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Is Anger Holy?
There's a rule of thumb working it's way around the zeitgeist nowadays that says "he who angers you, controls you", and I never really got what that meant until a few years ago. I was in the middle of a pretty intense situation involving a few friends of mine, and one in particular was intent on twisting every attempt I made to help, in to an attack. As a result, I carried resentment against her, backed away, and begin talking to the second party in an effort to solve the situation (or so I thought). Slowly but surely, we began to form an alliance, to which the first friend replied "I knew you we're both working against me". Then it hit me, I was a little pawn in her self-fulfilling prophecy, and anger was the perfect catalyst to get me moving. In the heat of all this drama, another friend chimed in, advising me not to let her "push my buttons", but I was in no mood to listen to advice. I was manipulated beyond belief. I tried to blame my actions on self-preservation, and justify myself as being a "peace maker", but the truth is, I was pissed, and I wanted someone to tell me I was right. Anger can make us thick in the head, but is it always wrong? Well the short answer is "no". But, there's a lot more to it than that.
Most of us don't get in to trouble from feeling anger, the trouble comes with how we choose to express it. While there's nothing spiritual about denying yourself the opportunity to stand up for yourself, there is still, what Marianne Williamson calls, a "spiritual tyranny" surrounding the expression of anger as it relates to conscious minded people. How many times have you acted or spoken out of anger and had someone tell you, "well, looks like that meditation isn't working?" On the contrary, you have just been shown a place in yourself where you still hold fear, because that's all that anger is. Someone or something is not the way you think they should be, and it scares the crap out of you. If you're involved in any kind of spiritual process, it means that you are being asked to be shown your weak spots so that they can be healed, so if it can anger you, chances are, it's on the way. Any in depth study of spiritual leaders like Ghandi, Jesus or Buddha will reveal that these were not one note masters. Ghandi expressed his intense dislike of being photographed, Buddha expressed his anger at the mistreatment of Sariputra, his main disciple, and Jesus had his rampage through the temple in Jerusalem. But, as individuals with free will, we do have control over our actions, and constructively making yourself be heard and understood is step one in harnessing your emotions and not becoming a victim of them.
So how do we give our anger a voice? Well, the first thing we have to do is give ourselves permission to speak and forget the image of the "spiritual seeker". A Course In Miracles makes it clear that the problem is not having impure thoughts, the problem is keeping them and allowing them to grow. So understanding how spiritually damaging it is to "hold it in" can help you get rid of those hang ups about keeping up appearances. Anger brings out what your real desires are, and denying another person a chance to hear that not only stunts their growth, but pretty much gaurantees that your needs will never be dealt with, and met. Even though you may be ready to have the conversation, wait, meditate and pray over the situation. The ego speaks first and the ego speaks loudest, and it's not the one you want leading the show. When you're ready to address the issue, stick with "I" statements ("I feel", "I want", "I need") and don't assume that you know what the other party is thinking. When you feel the time is right, suggest a solution to the situation and be open to the reponse. Above all, listen. Chances are, all they wanted was an open line of communication, and while you may not agree with what they have to say, or the delivery, make sure they're heard. You just might learn something.
Let anger be a catalyst for a little self-examination, and ask yourself how many times you plan to get upset over the same old thing. If you're sick of repeating the same scene over and over, and you're really ready to be done with that lesson and move on to the next one, you'll find it easier to give yourself permission to admit your role in the situation. Once you've done that, start making some changes and let it go. For good.