Thursday, May 10, 2012

What's the Opposite of Anger? - The Journey Part 3

Part 1 and Part 2.

Sometimes the opposite of anger is just anger in disguise. I see this pattern all around me. Some people want so bad not to be angry that they go to the opposite--either apathy, or love and compassion. They want to pray for them they hate.

It get it. But really, is it getting the results you want? Why open that door every morning and use your energy trying to feel love when you are really just angry. It's just the opposite side of the same coin and it takes just as much energy. Hate has a smell as love does....

My wise teacher told me this: He said, "Forget compassion. If I get pulled over by a cop on my way home am I going to have compassion for him? No. I am going to use all my energy to try to get out of the ticket."

Basically, it's not important for me to forgive or have compassion right now. I have a finite amount of energy and I need to use it to get my needs and my daughter's needs met. (The greatest need is to get out of this cycle of abuse we are both still caught in). My goal thus should not be to be in the positive mind or the negative mind, but in the neutral mind.  

That doesn't mean I shouldn't feel what I feel--even Christ felt angry. But trying to turn it to the opposite is not going to be authentic at this point. It's just a way of tricking ourselves into thinking we are not angry. But the energy is still the same. What right now is about is using my anger to clarity and get myself off the karmic rat wheel. Change the cycle. I still wasn't sure how I was going to do that yet, but in my pondering and study here are some other lessons I realized. They were mind blowing and a little uncomfortable to share here, but I think that they might have universal value. 

#1 - Anger Reduces Worry
If there is one thing I know it is that every behavior always has a positive (unconscious) intention behind it. so I looked for mine. I realized that being angry at my ex and his wife is actually serving as a little bit of an anxiety reduction behavior for me, because it keeps me from worrying as much about my daughter. I see this everywhere now. A lot of couples fight with each other about the child, so they don't worry as much about the child.

#2 Less Energy = Less Worry or Sadness
 When I don't use my anger in a focused way, it just disburses my energy and I have less for my daughter. Here's the totally messed up part. This is also an anxiety or sadness reducing behavior--because, when I am totally in the moment with her, it's so sweet I can barely handle it! Really. I might cry about how sweet it is.

It takes an enormous amount of courage to be in the present moment for long, because you have to face the fact that your life is slipping by, that your children are growing up. That's why billions and billions of people are checked out most of the time. They are afraid of the joy of the present moment because it will remind them that they don't feel that joy all that time or that life is finite.

 #3 The Over-functioning /Under-functioning Dynamic
Basically, when one person in a relationship over functions, the other starts to under function. For example, as I feel lots of anger about what is happening to Phoebe, Phoebe seems to be more fine, because I'm doing all the expressing for her. When I breathe into it a little and show her that I'm doing that, she has more space to feel and is beginning to do that. There has been lots of expression of emotion around here. But that has been a good thing because it has given me the opportunity to show her that it's okay. (Which is the problem with most of us over age 1--we always got the message it wasn't okay to express anger.) I practice stay-listening and emotion coaching and help her figure out what she is angry about and what she can do to help herself.

This over/under functioning dynamic also plays out with the other parties in this situation, but I am not sure what to do with it yet. I just keep breathing.

 #4 I Can't Change Other People
I can't change other people and wanting them to behave differently is part of my frustration. It will NEVER HAPPEN. The harder you try, the more frustrated you will become.

#5 I Can Change Me

Even if they are 97% of the problem, I am still 3% and I can change that.

How I was going to DO that was the question, which hopefully I have figured out and will answer tomorrow. But in a way, every deep breath of this journey was already changing me.


  1. #3 is totally me. I overfunction like crazy and being aware is the first step! :)

  2. #2... WOW!

    So, I'm sure you already know all about fractals and the Mandlebrot Set. I mention them because they show so perfectly the truth of what you said in #5! Which truth is stated in a wonderfully simply way: "Be the change you want to see in the world." I know you know it. Just felt the need to write it. Probably more for me than you. ;)

  3. Tori,

    I know, right. #2 Knocked me over when I realized it, too.