“Denying negative emotions leads to experiencing deeper and more prolonged negative emotions and to emotional dysfunction. Constant positivity is a form of avoidance, not a valid solution to life’s problems—problems which, by the way, if you’re choosing the right values and metrics, should be invigorating you and motivating you.” ~ Mark Mason, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Learning how to handle anger is a crucial skill not only for managing relationships with others, but for managing the relationship you have with yourself as well.
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Anger is an unpleasant feeling. It is like a blazing flame that burns up our self-control and causes us to say and do things that we regret later. When someone is angry, we can see clearly that he or she is abiding in hell. Anger and hatred are the materials from which hell is made. A mind without anger is cool, fresh, and sane. The absence of anger is the basis of real happiness, the basis of love and compassion.
When our anger is placed under the lamp of mindfulness, it immediately begins to lose some of its destructive nature. We can say to ourselves, “Breathing in, I know that anger is in me. Breathing out, I know that I am my anger.” If we follow our breathing closely while we identify and mindfully observe our anger, it can no longer monopolize our consciousness.
Awareness can be called upon to be a companion for our anger. Our awareness of our anger does not suppress it or drive it out. It just looks after it. This is a very important principle. Mindfulness is not a judge. It is more like an older sister looking after and comforting her younger sister in an affectionate and caring way. We can concentrate on our breathing in order to maintain this mindfulness and know ourselves fully.
“The desire for a more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.” ~ Mark Mason, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Emotional poison is created by our reaction to what we consider injustice. Some wounds will heal, others will become infected with more and more poison. Once we are full of emotional poison, we have the need to release it, and we practice releasing the poison by sending it to someone else. How do we do this? By hooking that person’s attention.
Let’s take an example of an ordinary couple. For whatever reason, the wife is mad. She has a lot of emotional poison from an injustice that comes from her husband. The husband is not home, but she remembers that injustice and the poison is growing inside. When the husband comes home, the first thing she wants to do is hook his attention because once she hooks his attention, all the poison can go to her husband and she can feel the relief. As soon as she tells him how bad he is, how stupid or unfair he is, that poison she has inside her is transferred to the husband.
The following meditation is an excerpt from the book, The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama:
Let us imagine a scenario in which someone who you know very well, someone who is close or dear to you, is in a situation in which he or she loses his or her temper. You can imagine this occurring either in a very acrimonious relationship or in a situation in which something personally upsetting is happening. The person is so angry that he or she has lost all his or her mental composure, creating very negative vibrations, even going to the extent of beating himself or herself up or breaking things.
Then, reflect upon the immediate effects of the person’s rage. You’ll see a physical transformation happening to that person. This person who you feel close to, who you like, the very sight of whom gave you pleasure in the past, now turns into this ugly person, even physically speaking. The reason why I think you should visualize this happening to someone else is because it is easier to see the faults of others than to see your own faults. So, using your imagination, do this meditation and visualization for a few minutes.
At the end of that visualization, analyze the situation and relate the circumstances to your own experience. See that you yourself have been in this state many times. Resolve that ‘I shall never let myself fall under the sway of such intense anger and hatred, because if I do that, I will be in the same position. I will also suffer all these consequences, lose my peace of mind, lose my composure, assume this ugly physical appearance,’ and so on. So once you make that decision, then for the last few minutes of the meditation focus your mind on that conclusion; without further analysis, simply let your mind remain on your resolution not to fall under the influence of anger and hatred.
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This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
~ Rumi, via Solitude
“Anxiety is part of our human condition, and we need to learn to treat it as an old friend, or least a familiar acquaintance. Many therapists say to do something to avoid anxiety, but in such endless activity much of our experience – joyful and painful – is lost. Seems like a hard bargain.” ~ Robert Kull, Solitude
“When sadness comes, be really sad. Don’t try to escape from it – allow it, cooperate with it. Let it dissolve in you and you be dissolved in it. Become one with it. Be really sad: no resistance, no conflict and no struggle. When happiness comes, be happy: dance and be ecstatic. When happiness comes, don’t try to cling to it. Don’t say that it should remain always and always; that is the way to miss it. When sadness comes, don’t say, ‘Don’t come to me,’ or, ‘If you have come, please go soon.’ That is the way to miss it. Don’t reject sadness and don’t cling to happiness.” ~ Osho, The Art of Living and Dying
“Sadness has a song… a very deep phenomenon is sadness. Accept it. Enjoy it. Taste it without any rejection, and you will see that it brings many gifts to you which no happiness can ever bring. If you can accept sadness it is no longer sadness; you have brought a new quality to it. You will grow through it. Now it will not be a stone, a rock on the path blocking the way; it will become a step.” ~ Osho, The Art of Living and Dying
“Sadness is sad because you dislike it. The sadness is sad because you would not like to be in it. The sadness is sad because you reject it. Even sadness becomes a flowering of tremendous beauty, of silence and of depth, if you like it. Happiness is always shallow; sadness, always deep. Happiness is like a wave; sadness is like the innermost depth of an ocean. In sadness you remain with yourself, left alone. In happiness you start moving with people and you start sharing. In sadness you close your eyes and you delve deep within yourself.” ~ Osho, The Art of Living and Dying
“Closing down in the midst of pain is a denial of a man’s true nature. A superior man is free in feeling and action, even amidst great pain and hurt. If necessary, a man should live with a hurting heart rather than a closed one. He should learn to stay in the wound of pain and act with spontaneous skill and love even from that place.” ~ David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man