A Fresh Way to Dealing with Anger
Whenever we’re angry (or frustrated, resentful, etc.), we can go into our old patterns of anger and telling the story … or we can start to try something new.
Here’s what I recommend practicing:
- Notice when you’re feeling this emotion. You might be telling yourself a story as well.
- Meditate for a second by turning your attention to the physical feeling in your body of anger/hurt.
- Be curious about it: what does it feel like, physically? Where is it located? What texture does it have? What energy does it have? Does it change?
- Stay with it: instead of instantly going back to your story (or a new story about this meditation), see if you can stay with the feeling longer. We’re training ourselves to stay longer.
- See if you can welcome this feeling. It’s not something that’s necessarily “bad,” nor is it something you need to reject. Just be OK with it in your body, even friendly towards it. Smile at it.
- See the pain you’re feeling as a sign of your good heart that’s been hurt, that is vulnerable and loves. See it as a sign of your basic goodness. You don’t need to do anything right now, just stay in touch with this tender heart.
With this fresh response, we’re opening up to the wide open nature of this moment, not needing to harden into our old stories.
We interrupt our conditioned, habitual response, and choose a new path, one that is less harmful.
And in this moment of openness, we can now try this:
- Give ourselves some kindness and compassion with the wish, “May I find an end to my pain; may I find peace; may I find happiness and joy.”
- Turn to the other person and see that they are struggling, they are in pain too.
- With this realization that they are in pain, reacting out of their habitual responses, spinning around their own stories … let this realization make us feel connected to them, as we know what that’s like. It’s not fun.
- Send them some loving kindness as well, with the same wish,” May they find an end to their pain; may they find peace; may they find happiness and joy.” Repeat it several times.
- From this place of compassion, you can now take a more appropriate action: give them a hug, talk to them with understanding and kindness, listen to their difficulty with compassion (and see that it’s about their pain, not about you), or at least refrain from lashing out.
We normally respond anger, out of proportion to the actual situation. But now we might be able to take a more appropriate, compassionate action (or non-action, as the case might require).
We will mess up on this practice, by the way. As with anything, we get better with continued practice. When we find that we can’t open up to the feeling, that we can’t stop from spinning around our stories, we can practice with that. We can see the feeling of helplessness, of despair, of frustration with ourselves, of giving up … and practice the method above on that feeling itself.
With each screw up, with each time we’re not able to open up, we have a new opportunity to practice. Another chance opens up, again and again, to heal ourselves and to get better at dealing with anger.