Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ask Parvati 16: Anger As An Ally, Part 4: Anger, What A Pain!



(Continued from The Irony Of Anger)

I have a particular soft spot for the short little green guy, the master Jedi knight known as Yoda. (Ok, now you know I am a big time Star Wars and sci-fi fan.) The enlightened teacher skillfully sums up the role anger plays in our demise. He says, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”


If we are to learn to meet anger as an ally, we must learn to touch its gems by undoing the painful grip of anger. Anger hurts us when we feel it. Withheld anger causes headaches, ulcers and cancers. Unbridled anger puts ourselves, others and those we love in harm’s way. We have only one healthy option when we feel anger: understand that it is caused by not seeing reality clearly, and committing to seeing a bigger, more accurate picture of what is. In so doing we let go of its seductive grip and we learn to embody the courage of love through compassionate understanding.


I love the Longfellow quote: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”


As we learn to undo the pain of anger, we see that when we are angry, we are in judgment, we are blaming, and we are afraid. When we unravel the judgment we feel of others, we learn to see their frailties, their need for love and their ignorance with understanding, love and acceptance. We can do this because we know that all of those painful emotions are also emotions we too can feel.


Feeling anger is a natural, human thing. It is a teacher, showing us the power of the mind’s projections and the innate power of consciousness. We have the ability to either destroy or create. The choice is ours.


Just as we learn that our tendency to become angry is born out of a judgmental, divisive mind, we learn to not be angry or judgmental of ourselves for being angry. We need to be kind to ourselves when we feel the heat of anger rise. We need to learn healthy ways to self-soothe and remain rooted in the reality that all is perfect in this moment, that we are love, that we are loved. In that safety, we can find the courage to relax, look deeper within and get to the source of what we are really feeling. When we express our true heart, everybody wins.


(Continues tomorrow: Anger Is Natural, But Never Justified)



  1. This week's topic is another one for my "je ne comprends pas" file. Not that I don't understand anger per se, having experienced more than my share of it, but I am only able to read other people's anger if it is expressed verbally (i.e. raging voice, string of f-words), not by facial expressions, body language or anything else non-verbal except perhaps the middle-finger salute. That's the way it is with autism spectrum. There are so many emotions and human interactions that I just don't grasp naturally and have to learn like irregular verbs in a foreign language. Aspergers is sometimes nicknamed "wrong planet syndrome", for obvious reasons.

  2. But this blog is first and foremost about the anger WE feel, not the anger others feel. So please let go of any idea of being on some unequal ground. For a moment, allow yourself not to get sucked into worrying that you don't read the cues of others. This is an opportunity to learn to read your OWN cues and to honour yourself.

  3. Well said Pranada! Thanks also for posting keval. I think that most men feel stumped when it comes to understanding the emotional landscape. Autism or not, if it were easy to master emotions we would all be living free of pain.

  4. In the words of John Lyden ex sex pistol lead singer and front man for PIL "Anger is an energy. May the road rise with you. May the road rise with you. May the road rise with you. Anger is an energy. Anger is an energy"..Humm I think I will blip this now. Thanks for the reminder Parvati.

    Anger can be a catalyst for great change....However its power is a great seductress just look at the Vancouver Canuck fans last night. And more aptly to your blog Parvati, even the great Jedi Anarkin skywalker could not harness the powers of anger for the betterment of himself. It lead to his demise and the suffering of many.

    Great blog post!


  6. Rishi, I was also thinking about the Canuck fans. On the one hand, in the evening, those who had become attached to the idea that "it should go this way" became enraged when their expectations were not met. In a feeling of disconnect and separation and victimhood, they lashed out against anything and everything in order to express the emotions they were not willing to actually just process. We see the harm this did.

    There were those who saw this great harm and became similarly upset and angry and sought to lash out at the rioters they could track down by defaming them on Facebook and inciting others to act hateful towards them. This is the perpetuation of suffering through the feeling of justified anger.

    Then there were those who saw all the harm and said, "This hurts. I do not agree with these actions and I feel sorrow and upset for those who have been harmed. I feel called to play my part." And they showed up first thing in the morning to help with the cleanup effort. They wrote notes of concern, peace and love on the boards that covered windows of vandalized stores. It is through this willingness to let go of the idea of separation that the cycle of anger is extinguished. These people did not say "it's not my store, why should I care?" or "I didn't make this mess, why should I clean it up?" They saw that they were part of a great interconnection, and that there was something they could do.