Sunday, 1 May 2011

Letting go of anger

The other day a good friend of mine came out and said some things that really blew me away... Not only were the things he said deeply hurtful but many were also untrue. You know how it goes. We've all had this type of experience with friends. In fact if they weren't friends it's unlikely that what they say would hurt us at the level that it does.

Of course I found myself absolutely seething at this person. I wrote him letters in my head in which I named him as the most self-righteous, demanding, selfish and judgmental person I had ever met. But unfortunately my emotions were so strong that I found it impossible to actually communicate with him about any of this. I just fumed inside while he was left wondering what I was so upset about.

This anger invaded every area of my life. Even my daily meditations were affected; I just couldn't take my focus away from the stream of hateful and condemning thoughts. I felt trapped and controlled by my emotions even as I could see that they were counter-productive.

In order to escape from the anger I thought that I would simply stop being friends with this person and I rationalised in my mind that really we had very little in common, that our ideas of what a good friendship should be differed radically. But this was just my way of avoiding having to come to terms with the fact that my anger, not my friend, was the cause of my unhappiness and that what I really needed to do to regain my peace of mind was not to let go of my friend but to let go of my angst.

What brought me to the point of realisation was when I acknowledged that I felt controlled by my emotions, rather than being in control of them. But the silly thing is that I was actually giving this control away, by clinging so firmly to the story I was telling myself, the story that justified my anger. The story went something like this: 'I can't believe that after all these years he can have so little understanding of me, that he is so self-absorbed that he thinks only of his own needs and demands that I meet them, while having no interest in what is going on in my life.'

When I was able to acknowledge that this story was just one way of looking at the situation, and that it was in fact a distorted view, I was able to take responsibility for my anger. I could then see that it was an emotion chosen by me and not caused by someone else, that I did in fact have a choice in the emotions that I experienced. I was then able to recognise that anger was not a pleasant or productive emotion for me at this time and was able to let it go. 

No comments: