“Explain your anger, don’t express it and you will immediately open the door to solutions instead of arguments” – Buddha
Have you ever wondered what might happen if we stopped looking at anger negatively?
Have you ever thought about just flipping it? Turning it on its head?
Most of us tend to think of anger as unnatural. We repress it. We berate ourselves for it.But in all honesty, it’s just raising its little head up to be heard.
Anger is natural, intelligent and necessary for surviving and flourishing. The only time it trips us up is when we hang on to it. But when we allow the anger to flow through us, we can expand our mindset and be the ‘observer of the anger’ with no judgement.
You see … we are the ones that get in the way of our anger and all that does is block the flow … then the anger builds and turns into a massive hurricane.
Let’s take a lesson from nature …. Sometimes there are some massive winds, sometimes it is raining the Antarctica on us and sometimes some countries experience natural disasters, like tornadoes, tsunamis and floods. It’s impossible to stop them, we take cover, we allow them to take their course and once nature has completed its cycle, we rebuild again.
Anger is a feeling that makes your mouth work faster than your mind…
We are all emotional human beings and when we feel anger come up, sometimes it’s not the right place nor time to allow it to flow through us.
As they say, “there is a time and place to express your true self”. I have a little trick that I would like to share with you. This is how I deal with my emotions. I am the driver of my bus and I have a bus full of emotions. When anger pops its little head up and decides to sit in my passenger seat, I acknowledge it. I say ‘Hello’. And if it’s not the appropriate time to deal with my anger, I park my bus and let my anger know that I will give it my full attention once I am done with my meeting.
I know what you’re thinking. Catherine has lost the plot!
Well … it really does work for me, and also many clients I have worked with.
Put it on hold until the time is right, and then ask these three questions.
- What am I angry about today?
- Why am I feeling this anger?
- How can I learn from this anger?
Once you can put it into words and unpack the reason ‘why’ – it loosens the boundaries of your anger. And we all know that if you don’t deal with your anger it can get stuck and then it causes you great personal suffering.
Anger is naturally triggered when we feel an obstacle to meeting our needs…
“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die” – Buddha
Anger is nothing more than an outward expression of hurt, fear and frustration.
Sometimes it’s a pattern that we see play out around certain individuals or environments.
The beauty of being able to acknowledge it when it is expressing itself, is when the real, positive work for you, can begin.
We can transform our mindset by being more mindful and compassionate to our needs so not to trigger the anger. When we can learn to pause and connect honestly with our inner experience, we are then able to respond to others from our full intelligence and heart.
As a human race we tend to be conditioned to react to aggression with more aggression – that’s like adding fuel to the fire. However, we can flip that on its head and do the complete opposite, we all have the capacity to pause, be more attentative to oneself and connect to our natural wisdom and empathy.
All we need to do is set very clear boundaries without guilt. Setting boundaries is a way of caring for yourself. It doesn’t mean you are selfish … quite the opposite, it is seen as you have respect and honour for yourself. It draws out a straight line because when you are very clear about your boundaries, as soon as someone oversteps your boundaries, you can respond in a more heart to heart way rather than lash out with anger.
Is it nature or nurture?
Let’s take a look at how our brain is wired to ‘nature’ where the idea that traits or abilities are coded into our human brain at birth versus ‘nurture’ where the idea that intelligence is obtained, not through birth, but experience.
Nature is to be able to do something while consistently using minimal energy. It just feels right. It comes natural to us, we don’t have to put too much time, thought nor energy. Intuitively, you feel energised and motivated, enjoying every moment of what you are doing. It derives an intrinsic satisfaction as a whole.
However, nurture doesn’t come naturally … don’t get me wrong you can do it and do it well but it takes effort to learn and maintain. It can be draining over time because you have to put out a lot of your time and energy. If we primarily keep operating in this mode, we will end up trying to avoid that task all together. It’s like going against the grain.
You are probably wondering, why does this matter? Well, learning about your nature and your nurture, contributes to your self-awareness which leads to self-actualization.
Two wrongs don’t make a right…
A story from one of my beautiful teachers.
A young man named Andrew received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.
Andrew tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to ‘clean up’ the bird’s vocabulary. Finally, Andrew was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. Andrew shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even more rude. Andrew, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer.
For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, Andrew quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto Andrew’s outstretched arms and said “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behaviour.”
Andrew was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behaviour, the bird spoke-up, very softly, “May I ask what the turkey did?”
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned” – Buddha