Reducing Anger with two simple, but not easy, steps Continued
Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath. Eckhart Tolle
How many times have I said, “You make me so angry?” The truth is no one makes me angry! Anger arises out of the story I am telling myself about what other people, life or a particular situation did to me. Anger allows me to be right and therefore to feel superior to others. Why do I feel the need to be angry? Out of the almost universal human belief that I am not good enough. Thus, a story has to be created by the mind to continuously prove to myself I am good enough or even superior. I set up the storyline, for example, by demanding that life, and other people “have to” play by my rules, and give me the positive sense of self I need to feel good about myself. When you don’t give me the reaction, I want pain arises because when you disagree with me, I feel inferior and invalidated. I then have little choice but to use anger in an attempt to control you into giving me what I crave – a positive sense of self.
What kind of person “causes my pain?” This is where blaming comes into play. A no good person, a …fill in the blank… kind of person. My boss is such a jerk, he has no respect for me, and the story goes on and on keeping the anger alive.
I am unaware that I am creating my own pain and anger because I am so invested in being right and feeling superior. I am trapped into believing the very story I created in my mind so I have no choice or freedom to do something different. Blaming allowed me to dehumanize another being, making it easier to inflict emotional pain and even violence upon them.
It wasn’t until I brought awareness to the process that I began to see that I don’t have to obey what it is I am telling myself. I don’t have to follow every thought that arises out of the anger. Awareness means being the observer or the witness of the story I am telling myself without judging the story as either good or bad – it just is. The story is just thoughts that fears inferiority and seeks superiority in order to strengthen my ego. With this simple recognition, over time, I began to have freedom from the thoughts and therefore choices on what I wanted to do next.
Awareness, presence, or consciousness takes time to develop. Anger provides the perfect opportunity to begin your personal and spiritual development. Become conscious of being conscious. Close your eyes and feel your hands without touching them. Can you feel their aliveness? If so, you are the conscious observer. Can you do this with your anger? While at first it was difficult and fleeting, but with practice I became more and more aware of the mental thoughts created by my story. This awareness allowed me not to identify with the story, but to be separate from it. Once I became separate from the story, it no longer created the pain that then drove my behavior. I was free to choose something different including having no reaction at all.
Jim Runnels is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor and advocate of evidence-based education and supporter of the health benefits of a whole food plant-based, active lifestyle, to achieve optimal health. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.