Anger: The Path to Enlightenment
Anger as a path to enlightenment. How is this even possible, you may be wondering? Anger is a bad thing, you say. Something that must be suppressed at all costs. If I let go of my anger, I will be out of control. But what if anger is the psyche’s way of reminding you that something needs to be tended? That if you sit down with anger and talk to it and find out what it has to say, it may be a path to healing. Now that’s a completely different story isn’t it?
The Danger of Secrets:
First of all I want to say that anger can sometimes be connected to the keeping of secrets that I wrote about in last week’s post called: The Danger of Secrets. Sometimes, the anger we feel is connected to the secrets we had to keep, or were forced to keep, in order to protect ourselves or the ones we love. Keeping the secret can be overwhelming. Your psyche wants to deal with it and move on to bigger and better things. That is why it keeps tap-tap-tapping on the inside of your brain, trying to get you to pay attention. The more you ignore its insistence to be heard, the more it demands a voice. Holding on to anger can make you a victim – doomed to keep making the same choices over and over again. An illusion is something that we believe to be true, but isn’t. For example when there are clouds covering the sun, we may believe that the sun has disappeared. But the sun is still there spreading light over the earth. An illusion can also mean that we have forgotten who we are. If someone has told us we are not good enough and we believe it. In reality, we all have worth. Somehow we have to look past the illusion of anger and discover the truth behind the illusion. But how to do that?
What I do know about anger is I have some responsibility for holding on to it. Someone else may have helped to create my anger, but I have chosen to keep it close. Because I do have some responsibility is a good thing. It means that I now have something to work with to get past it. The way past anger is to sit down with it and have a conversation. Find out what message it has for you. The insistent tapping I mentioned earlier is often the catalyst toward the journey of healing. Some incident in your life may bring your anger to the forefront of your thinking. Mine was my parent’s separation. For some reason, their separation brought up old business that needed tending. I knew it was time to face my demons, and I’d like to say, “once and for all”, but in reality, healing is not a one shot deal, it happens over time. I am still dealing with the aftershocks of my journey to healing.
You may think that your anger makes you strong. Perhaps you use anger to create something for yourself. But what you are doing is creating the same thing over and over again. Until you let go of your anger, you will not be able to create something new. Maybe you think that to let go of your anger will change you. You’ve held on to your anger for so long, it has become a part of you and you don’t know who you will be without it. Well, that’s true, letting go of your anger will change you. It takes courage be able to sit down with your anger and find out what it has to teach you in order for you to heal. Letting go of anger will not make you weak. It will make you strong because you have stopped running from it and have turned around to face it. Much like a bully in the school yard; once you face your tormentor, you discover that your illusions about the bully were false.
It takes patience to deal with anger. As I said, healing is not a one shot deal. You need patience in order to do what is necessary to get past it. In the story of The Crescent Moon Bear in The Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarrisa Pinkola Estes, it talks about how when the woman goes to the mountaintop to face her anger, in the form of a bear, the branches of the trees lift as she passes. This indicates to me that once you make a decision to face your anger, or any other life changing event, things tend to open up to show you the way towards your objective. Then once the woman makes it to the top, it takes many nights of feeding the bear (her anger) in order to bring her closer into his presence, before she is able to convince him to give her one of the hairs from the crescent moon on his throat. She believes the hair is her talisman against anger, but she soon finds out that it is the patience she took to achieve her objective. It is this kind of patience that will be needed, not only with yourself, but with your anger.
At this point, I’d like to say that if you feel that your own anger is too much for you to handle alone, I highly recommend a counselor of some kind. Someone who can guide you through your anger in stages. That’s what I did when I worked through my own anger regarding an unjust episode in my own life. It took a year of working with one, but it was worth it in order to understand why I not only fear certain aspects of life, but also believe I’m not up to the task of dealing with its vagaries. I am learning to face my fears by breaking them down into manageable steps so I can move forward. For I believe that this is the only way to break the pattern of illusion I have created for myself after years of practice.
I hope my thoughts on anger are helpful to you. And that is all they are – my thoughts. They are not meant as a substitute for professional help. They are based on my own experience and the teachings of spiritual books I have read over the years like Clarrisa Pinkola Estes and Marianne Williamson. There are many other books out there that may also be helpful to you and I encourage you explore the bookshelves for the one that will work best for you.