I’ve written a lot on this blog about my struggles with anger. Anger is such a negative and destructive emotion that I don’t want to keep talking about it. I would much rather talk about joy and positivity and light and love. However, as this is something I have been struggling with so much, I feel that I need to write this post for the sake of completion and closure. I also hope that this might help someone else out there who might also be struggling with these dark thoughts.
At the end of last year, 2014, I wrote a post saying that I wanted to leave the anger behind me in 2014 and press on into more positive thoughts. To be honest, that did not actually happen! In the event I actually carried the anger with me into 2015 as surely as ever.
And yet, by the grace of God, I believe that I now sincerely do know how to deal with all my feelings to promote joy and positivity in my heart, as well as gracious feelings towards people who have acted badly.
A big deal?
I guess this has been such a big deal for me because dealing with these difficult peole has not just been a one-off thing. Rather I have encountered so many instances of negativity in so many different situations that I needed to work out for myself once and for all just how to deal with all these issues, to protect myself as far as possible from encountering these kinds of situations again.
The big difficulty
At the risk of flogging a very dead donkey, this following has been the big difficulty in all of this. This following combination of factors has been what has exposed me to the risk of embracing anger:
1. Firstly I’ve been a little clueless about all these issues and I simply did not understand that there was a risk of getting very angry from thinking endlessly on all these subjects
2. I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking about how to avoid these situations again. However, each time I would think on this subject, I would not be able to help remembering just what these people did, I would think on it at length, and remember how angry each situation left me, and a further deposit of anger would be left in my mind.
So that is how I managed to get myself very angry about these issues, even though I did not deliberately go out of my way to get angry. Now I believe that I understand what I need to do to cultivate grace towards these people who have already acted in these ways. I also believe that I now know what I need to do to prevent myself from falling into further anger. In this I have learned as much as I can from someone who seems to aggressively cultivate positivity. I am also so aware that someone might be praying for me. If it is indeed true that someone is praying for me regarding this I am so grateful. It has been such a big battle in my life, and I can scarcely believe that I am finally free of these shackles.
So at any rate this is what I am now doing, or at least this is what I know I should be doing! The final challenge will be to actually cultivate the discipline to do this every single day!
So the big challenge with the anger is that so much of it has been deposited in my mind, and I have thought on it so often, that I have now unconsciously developed the habit of meditating upon angry thoughts in my mind. As with other negative habits, I have to apply almost zero effort to think on these things, and to fill my mind with further anger. So to overcome this habit of anger, I have to cultivate a stronger habit of love in my heart towards these people. These are the ways I am going about cultivating this new habit of love in my heart towards these people.
1. This is the most important part of the solution. It is also the part that requires the most discipline, and the part that I am currently struggling with most. Every day, I have to pray for these people. I have to pour out prayers of love, grace, and kindness from the deepest sincerity of my heart. [As I am writing this, I am chuckling to myself as I am thinking that this then might be the reason why a certain someone has been praying for me. It might not be a tender expression of love, but rather it might be a determined attempt to forgive me. This is not by any means the first time this thought has occurred to me! If that is indeed the reason why you started praying for me, I am so sorry that I hurt you. I honestly could not possibly imagine that my actions could possibly cause you pain. But anyway, that is probably a matter for my other blog!] The point of praying is that by doing this I am retraining my mind in how to think about these people. My mind is currently oriented to think in terms of hatred towards these people. By actively praying the deepest, purest prayers of love for them, then I will be forced to start thinking in positive terms towards them.
2. This is what I have been finding easier to do over the last few weeks: to just refuse to think on thoughts of anger etc. Whenever I find myself heading by default into those angry thoughts I catch myself and ask myself: “Why am I thinking this?” And then I refuse to think on that anger any further.
What I have described above I have known for ages, possibly years. The challenge has been to actually do it, and to recognise that I have to aggressively stop meditating on these angry thoughts.
However, this following is a new understanding that has only occurred to me recently: when thinking about what people have done, I can also mentally separate why I am angry, from the actual people themselves. So then I can cultivate positivity towards the people themselves while praying for whatever it is within me that has been hurt, trying to identify just why I feel hurt. This involves being extremely honest with myself: why am I angry? Why do I feel justified in my anger? And then I can also remind myself that these people are precious human beings.
A very big part of all this has been knowing how to avoid putting myself back into these situations. I think that the answer to that is to be very very careful, watchful and deliberate about people whom I embrace in close friendship. They will not be perfect either, of course, as I am not perfect. However, being with people who are sincerely investing their best to demonstrate outsanding character would be… amazing!