A Third Way To Deal With Anger


It is a common belief that when anger arises, there are only two choices for what to do with it.

  1. Project it outwardly at the one who triggered it (or at innocent bystanders) or
  2. Suppress it by intellectualizing or meditating it away.

In other words, we typically either feel justified in blowing our tops, or we believe it’s bad to feel angry therefore use one method or another to avoid it.

There’s another way.

3. Face it, admit it, own it, feel it, experience it, let it pass through and leave you. Without projecting it at anybody. Without judging yourself. Just taking responsibility for it. Not letting angers stack-up in your soul, causing disharmony, chaos and ill-will.

Anger, fear and grief can soil and bestrew your soul just as an uncleaned house gets dusty and cluttered the longer it is neglected.

How do you deal with a dirty, cluttered home? Does it get clean by yelling, blaming, hating, throwing a tantrum or complaining to your friends, relatives and co-workers? What about if you just avert your eyes and pretend the dirt and mess are not there? Or keep telling yourself and others that it’s perfectly natural and normal for it to be there? Or sit down in meditation everyday and breathe deeply while allowing your dirty-house-thoughts to float by in your mind and drift off into nothingness?

If you take those approaches, obviously your house is just going to keep piling up with more dirt and clutter and continue to create more problems.

What’s the alternative?

In the case of the house, it’s obvious. You open your closet doors, you look at the clutter and do something with it. You have an experience with it. Piece by piece, you pick it up, look at it, consider it, feel it, then you carry it off to a donation place or a garbage bin and let it go.

You go back to the closet for the next thing, and the next. You also see the cobwebs and the dust bunnies and you sweep them out, you wipe everything down with soap and water. How does it feel when everything is decluttered and clean? It feels like a bright, sun-shiny new day where everything is possible! We now have motivation, desire and faith that if we do the same thing in the rest of the house, the good feelings will continue to grow and spread.

It’s the same with the soul.

We can choose to throw tantrums about how we feel or ignore or explain away our feelings, but in reality, the soul will continue to accumulate dirt and mess the longer we avoid facing it and actually doing something about it.

When there is anger, don’t beat up up the people around you. Go into another room and beat a pillow. Take ownership of how you feel. Say to yourself and to God…”I’m angry!” Grrrrrrrr! Beat up your bed or a punching bag, or the ground. Really feel that anger. Let it pass through you.

Just as you have to carry your closet clutter through your house in order to get it out the door and away…you also have to allow your emotional clutter to pass through you before it can leave you.

Go ahead and feel it. Don’t push it down and hold onto it, and don’t blame others for it. Just acknowledge it, feel it, and let it go.

Featured Image: My husband Jeff at the end of the boardwalk looking out over the marsh on Lake Ponchartrain during our bicycle ride at Fountainebleu State Park. Photo by Brenda Kay Forest (Hoffman).

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