It is hard to remain peaceful or hopeful when your mind starts to wander, recalling all of the times you have been disappointed and let down. Let down by life, by the people in it, or even by yourself. We tend to turn to anger when things do not go our way and we will even lash out at the people we actually care about the most when the anger starts to emerge. When it comes to anger, we, as a general society, seem to feel the need to “release” it, and even promote ways to do so. But why can’t anger just be felt, contained for a positive purpose and then let go? Do we need to yell, kick, scream, punch or blame someone for what has happened, for what “made” us feel angry or for the feeling of anger itself?
Come to think of it, while we are here, why do we even “let” people “make us angry?” It’s a common expression, so and so, made me so …, but have you ever stopped to think how ridiculous and disempowering this is? Perhaps, we as a society, don’t have an anger or frustration problem, but a problem with impermanence, human connection and the capacity to self regulate.
Perhaps what we need is not anger management or punching bags, but “self management” and the willingness to feel upset without the thought of a punch or kick.
Even if someone's actions, or your own, have caused suffering, blame will only continue the cycle of pain and not bring any relief. We can choose to let go of the blame and turn instead to something much more meaningful, to the power of forgiveness.
To accept is to forgive. We should first accept that something bad or wrong has happened to us and realize that we cannot change the current situation or outcome. We can change, however, how we move forward from it and how we react. A negative retaliation will not help solve the problem or ease suffering. It is difficult to accept what has happened and choose to forgive especially when it comes to yourself. We tend to be harder on ourselves than anyone else, berating and taking ourselves down, when what we actually need is to realize that we are first and foremost: human.
We need to be gentle with ourselves because we are doing the best that we can. The same goes for others. If a loved one, or close friend, or even a stranger causes harm or makes a mistake we cannot turn to unkindness. Unkindness will not only burn the other person, it will burn you as well. We must remind ourselves that the people we encounter, loved ones or strangers, are simply people at the very basic level. We are all doing the best that we can.
The pain we are feeling is the hardest part to overcome. We become narrow focused on the “I can’t believe this has happened” or the “How could they have done this to me?” which is where the anger first comes to life. We then think “I would have never done this to them” or “I am so stupid for letting this happen” when in reality, this is not the case.
Instead of remaining in this anger circle, we can refocus our energy on thinking about what this person might have been thinking or doing that led them to this action or what similar situation we previously might have been in that can bring clearer wisdom to the present moment. By doing this, we may be able to piece together how things happened the way they did and even how we can start to accept and forgive.
This is not to say, however, that we shouldn’t have boundaries, because we can forgive someone and ourselves and still let them know that this behaviour was hurtful and unacceptable.
It’s why I don’t believe in compromises. Compromises are passive. Compromises construct no boundaries.
What we need instead are resolutions. Resolutions to not make a similar mistake again, to engage in a more positive behaviour, to be more willing to accept and forgive, to become more gentle, but in the same moment, more resilient.
You see, we don’t need a country full of violent, angry compromisers needing to escape acceptance or the feeling of anger in the first place.
We need a country of gentle, but angry resolvers who are willing to acknowledge and accept hurt and anger, yet transform it into something transcending the circumstances in which it was created.
Anger and hurt is not an opportunity to maim or blame, it’s an opportunity to accept and forgive, knowing that yes, indeed, through this we shall live.