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Tag: grounding

How to deal with anger

Anger

Buddhism also teaches helpful meditation techniques so we are not swept away by the force of conflicting emotions like anger. These techniques allow us to take advantage of the brief gap in the mind between impulse and action. Through the practice of mindfulness, we become aware of impulses arising and allow a space in which we can consider whether and how we want to act. We, not our emotions, are in control. –Melvin McLeod

For me, anger and a sense of injustice are a motivating force. –Chelsea Clinton, the Clinton Foundation

I believe that anger can be sacred. Anger is meant to lead us to protect ourselves by saying a clear and decisive No to those who would otherwise use or abuse us. Anger is meant to help us create clear and helpful boundaries. Anger is meant to lead us to defend the weak and helpless, and to seek justice and truth-telling. These are all very good things.

I want to mention the upside of anger right up front, because anger is often perceived and talked about negatively–no doubt due to its profane side, which is itself abusive. Learning the difference between sacred and profane anger can be quite difficult for anyone who, like me, has had extensive exposure to inappropriate anger.

I’ve written before about the moment I decided I was tired of being as angry as I was, and that something needed to change. With the work I’ve been doing on grounding over the past month or so, all these many years later I feel like I have finally gathered a complete set of tools to transform my relationship with anger, and so I wanted to write about the topic again.

This past week I read the Readers Write section of the July issue of The Sun magazine. The theme is Never Again. Many of the entries are heartbreaking–particularly one written by a mother who is the child of an angry parent, has now become one herself, and doesn’t know how to change. This, for me, has been the path to that change I decided absolutely had to happen. For me it has been the work of many years, but I don’t see any reason why the process couldn’t move along a bit faster! If you experience anger as a force that seems like it’s controlling you rather than the other way around, I recommend the following …

  1. Cultivate a sense of humor. I wouldn’t say I’ve had every advantage in life, but I have had some important ones. I consider having a strong sense of humor to be at least one of my top five, if not higher. There are definitely things worth getting angry about, but there are a lot more that are well worth laughing about. There’s nothing like a sense of the ridiculous to help you keep your perspective, and appreciate life here on Earth.
  2. Let go of the past. If you’re getting disproportionately angry about little things all the time, in my experience it’s because you’re actually angry about something quite large that you haven’t dealt with. First you have to deal with the elephant in the room. For me, this step was about releasing bitterness about the big things that were bothering me. Once I did this, it became unusual for me to blow up over nothing.
  3. Years later, I started to meditate. If you don’t already meditate, I hope you’ll begin today. People have given me lots of “reasons” why they don’t meditate–but they sounded an awful lot like excuses. If you’ve been making excuses–I can’t meditate because my apartment complex is too noisy; my dog won’t let me meditate; I have no talent for meditation (all actual “reasons” I’ve heard)–I hope you’ll recognize them for what they are, take a page out of the Nike handbook, and Just do it. What’s so important about meditation, you may be asking? Why do people talk about what is, after all, doing nothing like it’s the second coming? I’ve always known I became calmer as a result of meditating, but I’m not sure I could have explained why as well the quote above from the Shambhala Sun, which really illuminated for me the value of meditation as it relates to anger. The much-talked-about “gap” really does make a huge difference in everyday life.
  4. Recognize the ego for what it is. When you recognize your own ego–as well as others’, they’re all pretty much alike, after all–and you no longer have to be right all the time, you suddenly have a lot less to be angry about. You really get it that there’s so much that happens that you no longer “need” to respond to.
  5. The last step (so far!) has been the work I’ve recently been doing on grounding. My (Donna Eden) energy medicine practitioner realized that a) relatively slight stress, like recalling an unpleasant meeting, could cause me to become ungrounded, and b) even when I was grounded, it wasn’t a stable state. When I asked what could cause these issues, she mentioned trauma, and reminded me, “You didn’t have the best childhood, you know.” Well yes–there was that. Using the same meridians as Traditional Chinese Medicine, she determined where my trigger points were, and devised an exercise for me to do three times a day. (It took a bit more than 10 minutes at first, and now it takes a bit less.) As I understand it, this exercise allowed me to ground myself, break up unhelpful patterns, challenge my grounding, and then immediately re-ground myself. She suggested doing it for two weeks, and ideally 21 days. I scheduled an appointment after about a month, doing the exercise faithfully during the past month. My colleagues were so good as to challenge my grounding quite thoroughly just before my appointment. Whereas before I’d likely have responded appropriately, but felt (and probably also looked and sounded) rattled, after doing this work I was able to be calm both inside and out. My breathing changed, I was definitely irritated, but I stayed grounded throughout. I was able to express my viewpoint calmly and logically, and when I came in the next day, I found the person who’d been trying to weasel out of work in the meeting was actually doing some of it. I considered it a victory all the way around.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage card I started making in January and finished today called, So you think I have an anger problem. In January, my mood shifted before I could figure out how to make the card successful, and I ended up making a card for Courage instead.

If you’re interested in seeing a Donna Eden energy medicine practitioner yourself, here’s a directory.

How to get unstuck

winnie-the-pooh-stuck-in-rabbits-house

By chance are you feeling stuck today? Perhaps you know what you need to do, but you’re unsure of the next step. Or perhaps you know the next step, but can’t seem to take it. Maybe you just have an aimless feeling, like your sense of purpose has gone AWOL. Maybe you feel like you’ve been in a rut forever, and don’t know how to get out. Perhaps you find yourself in a liminal stage between an ending and a new beginning, and things aren’t flowing as you’d like. Whatever your level of stuckness, here are some ideas to get you moving in the right direction …

  1. Write down some intentions about what you want your life to look like. Get out your journal–or, if you don’t have one, take a quick trip to the bookstore and treat yourself to a lovely new one in a favorite color. Then open your journal to a blank page, and let your intuition guide you as you write a title. It could be “My intentions for …” or “What I want my life to look like.” Your title could relate to how you feel stuck, or it could relate to something seemingly different. Thoughts about your list may come to you over a few days. Fine-tune it until it really expresses what you want (you may want to copy it out again once you’re done), and then read through it every so often. I like to read through mine before I meditate.
  2. Check your energy flow, and correct it if necessary.
  3. If you’re feeling stuck, you might not be grounded.
  4. Fix something that’s bugging you. WD-40 the creaky door. Pull the weeds you’ve been eyeing. Is a tree seedling or some noxious weed (devil vine is the bane of my existence) sprouting from a seam in your driveway or sidewalk? Boil the teakettle and put a stop to that. (Sometimes it takes more than once, but boiling water always wins.) Kick something ugly to the curb. Say no to something you’ve been asked to do that doesn’t feel right for you. (Don’t you feel better already?)
  5. Clear some clutter. This is a fantastic way to power through a barrier. You’ll get the biggest bang from clearing old and/or negative clutter (i.e., clutter with negative associations for you). Bonus points for clearing clutter directly related to an area where you feel stuck. You may want to identify an area where you can make a significant impact in a reasonable amount of time–an area where you’ve already made a decision about what needs to happen, or where you can make that decision right now.
  6. Try something new today–and if you don’t try new things regularly, begin to make it a habit. (This one step can easily change your whole outlook on life.) Have lunch or dinner at a new restaurant that’s getting good reviews. Try a food or cuisine you’ve never tried before, or a new recipe. Call a friend and have an impromptu picnic, or take a walk, in a park or public garden that’s new to you. Stop in a store that’s caught your eye. Go see that museum exhibit that looks so interesting. Take a weekend road trip to someplace you’ve never been. Take a workshop and learn how to do something you’ve never done before. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, take that first step today. Always wanted to play the piano? Find a teacher and book a lesson. If you’re deciding whether or not to do something, and the no feels like unjustified fear–say yes.
  7. Look around your home for things that belong to someone you used to be. Are there textbooks from the student you used to be? (You’ll never need to know more about the accounting methods of 20 years ago.) Shelves of novels when you’ve stopped reading fiction? Magazines about hobbies you don’t do anymore? A whole wardrobe? Love letters (or hate letters)? What baggage could you release today in order to create space for the you you’re becoming?
  8. Look around your office at work. What’s out of date? What project is every bit as extinct as the dinosaur, but you still have all the paperwork? (Maybe you can let go of all the files for Project Dinosaur, if there’s no company policy that mandates keeping them.) Do you see any paper that’s actually yellowed? This may be a clue.
  9. Add something to your life that will guarantee change, like a new friend, or a new pet.
  10. Slough off your old skin quite literally. Go shopping for a body scrub that smells wonderful, and use it. (Fresh has some lovely products.) Get a pedicure, facial, or massage. Get a haircut. Get your teeth cleaned (it’s good feng shui!).
  11. What do you have that’s expired, past its use-by date? Check the cupboards and medicine cabinet. Find a prescription take-back program (your city or pharmacy may have one), and take advantage of it.
  12. If you’re still not sure what your next step is, ask yourself the question, and go to sleep. See if you don’t wake up with new insight.

 

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