Are you in the habit of saying things like “he made me angry” or “she annoyed me”? If you are, then you will be giving your personal power away for free to that person. By making a few small adjustments you can own your own feelings, take responsibility for them and regain that power.
Whenever we have an emotional reaction like anger, it highlights something within us that needs expression and shines a light on something within which needs to be heard. If we say that someone else has “made us angry” we are effectively saying that he or she is responsible for how we feel and that they have the power to change how we feel.
The downside of this habit is that we miss the opportunity to see how it is our own way of thinking which makes us feel either good or bad. We forget that it is we who have the power to feel however we want to feel. In blaming others for how we feel, we fall into the trap of believing that happiness is a consequence instead of a choice.
When we say things like “you’re annoying me” we are not owning our own emotions or taking responsibility for them. In so doing we inadvertently reinforce the belief that other people need to change before we can feel good.
We could say that anger arises because of an unhealed emotional wound, an unmet need, or a limiting / false belief. However we describe it, whenever we feel angry, it is always a sign that our thoughts are out of alignment with our deeper truth. For that reason, these thoughts need to be brought to the surface so we can see what purpose they are serving and how we might need to change them.
Anger is not bad
Many of us grew up believing that anger was bad and that it was not acceptable to get angry. This led us to suppress our anger, to deny it and keep it hidden. But in so doing we cut ourselves off from the great source of power that anger is. There is little in life which is more important than learning to be true to ourselves and speak our own truth. Everyone’s inner truth is unique and whatever is true for you right now might not be true for someone else. But it is important to learn to live in such a way that we respect other people’s needs and wishes without sacrificing our own. If we deny our own truth and fail to meet our own needs, resentment builds within, it saps our energy, leads to ill-health and eventually leads to uncontrollable outbursts of anger. The presence of anger is a sign that something within you needs attention. It’s like having a hole in your roof – ideally you’d rather it wasn’t there and it doesn’t feel good when you become aware of it, but it’s better to know about it so you can take whatever steps are required to repair it. Anger comes to tell us that there is a hole within us and that it needs to be repaired. When we view anger in this way we can see that it is something to be cherished and appreciated rather than judged or vilified.
Anger is always associated with a judgement, either about ourselves or others. Again we learn that judgement is “bad”, perhaps without realising that to label anything as “bad” is a judgement in itself. I would certainly advocate the cultivation of non-judgement but that does not mean suppressing or denying judgements. If you hold a judgement about someone it is healthy to be honest about it and say “yes, I have a judgement about this. I’d like to be non-judgemental about it but that’s not how I currently feel and so I need to understand the source of that judgement.” Sometimes we need to allow anger to arise and to immerse ourselves in the emotion before the judgement within it can be revealed.
Own your anger instead of projecting it
The key to handling the anger is to own it without projecting it. This means to acknowledge that YOU are getting angry and not that someone else is making you angry. It is your truth which is crying out for attention, not someone else’s. In practical terms this can often mean we need to disconnect from a situation which is triggering our angry, perhaps by letting others know that we need time out, and either being on our own or seeking the company of a trusted friend who can “hold the space” for us to express how we feel, in a safe environment.
It is worth remembering that it is not what happens in the world which makes us angry, it is how we interpret it. It is not what other people do or say that annoys us, but what we say to ourselves about it that gives rise to anger.
The secret of personal power
When we blame others for making us angry we give them power. Conversely, when we own our anger and allow the voice within it to be heard, we release a huge amount of energy. We then have a golden opportunity to harness that energy and use it to feed the expression of our inner truth.
Did he make you angry? No. Anger arose within you in response to his behaviour. Is it a bad thing that anger arose? Quite the opposite because it shines a light on something that is really important for you. In this way we can see the gift of anger and appreciate the opportunity that arose when he behaved the way he did. In many cases it is not appropriate to outwardly thank that person for bringing up your anger because he most likely will not have done it consciously or with any great awareness. Instead of thanking the person I would advocate thanking the spirit within them. At the level of ego we are separate individuals, each on our own path of awakening, but at a deeper level of spirit, energy or awareness, we are all connected and all One. The spirit within another is the same as the spirit within you. So in honouring that spirit, we not only honour the spirit of the person who triggered our anger, we also honour the spirit within us.
The outer world of human expression is a mirror for our inner world of thoughts and feelings. How we perceive and interpret what is happening “out there” shines a light on what we are thinking and feeling “in here”. The cause of what we see is always something we don’t see. It may seem that there is nothing but darkness manifesting in the outer world, but if you look closely enough you will always be able to see the light within which is seeking expression. As we learn to enquire within as to the source of our own anger, we become better able to recognise the source of other people’s anger and this greater awareness brings increased compassion and an improved ability to forgive – both ourselves and others.