Thoughts on working with anger

Oct 9, 2018

Last week I wrote about how I don’t know how to be angry.

A week later – no surprise – I still don’t.

But I am more ready to learn now because my anger is leaking out (sorry TSA person I snapped at and young man I glowered at when you got into our shared Lyft) but also because I want to learn. I want anger to grow me.

To help me take wise action to make the world safer for others with less privilege and choice and to help me not end up twisted, bitter, and mean.

I’m a reader, so I always start learning by reading. First up are these two books I found through recommendations. I have not read them yet.

Rage Becomes Her by Soraya Chemaly

From Amazon, “Contrary to the rhetoric of popular “self-help” and an entire lifetime of being told otherwise, our rage is one of the most important resources we have, our sharpest tool against both personal and political oppression. We’ve been told for so long to bottle up our anger, letting it corrode our bodies and minds in ways we don’t even realize. Yet our anger is a vital instrument…”

Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister

From Amazon, “With eloquence and fervor, Rebecca tracks the history of female anger as political fuel—from suffragettes marching on the White House to office workers vacating their buildings after Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court.”

I’m a meditator so I will seek to learn from anger this way.

First I will be working with an approach from the beloved THICH NHAT HANH … “Mindfulness does not fight anger or despair. Mindfulness is there in order to recognize. To be mindful of something is to recognize that something is there in the present moment. Mindfulness is the capacity of being aware of what is going on in the present moment. “Breathing in, I know that anger has manifested in me; breathing out, I smile towards my anger.” Read his article here.

I may only be able to do this for a few moments at a time right now, but I will aim for open curiosity.

I will also be reflecting on this from Dr. John Makransky…”We need to go beyond the brittle self-centeredness of anger and take the power and energy that are driving anger and direct it at its truer objects. Instead of hating other persons as objects to be defeated or destroyed, we can let our wrathful energy target all patterns of greed, prejudice, hatred, fear, and self-protectiveness that have been operative in every one of us, starting with ourselves. To do this is to be given over to the underlying energy of impartial compassion in the nature of our minds. This energy can become ferocious in upholding everyone in their essential dignity and potential.

…Ordinary anger is motivated by fear and aversion; wrathful compassion is motivated by love that has the courage to confront people for their own sake. Anger seeks to protect the self, or one’s own self-righteousness. Wrathful compassion seeks to protect all others, by challenging what harms them. The difference is quite clear.” Read the full interview and try the meditation practice he offers here.

I’m a listener, so I invite you to comment here on how you’re learning or have learned to work with, be with, and bear anger, especially anger at injustice, racism, sexism, and all else that chafes and rankles your heart.

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