Maybe you get a thrill from it? I know I do sometimes.
When I’m angry about something, it makes me feel powerful. It feels good when I’m judging something or someone – making them wrong and making ME right.
Especially when I’m afraid of the world, anger provides a moment where I feel like I have some control.
It’s survival, right?
But the problem is that most of the time, my anger is completely out of control. In other words, I don’t even know it’s happening until it’s too late. Someone says something to me and it sets me off. I read something on social media and I’m compelled to write back instantly. Even when I don’t react right away, I bottle it up thinking that I’ve done the right thing, but really I’m just a ticking time bomb waiting for someone (who is usually not the intended target) to trigger me so I can unleash. Then I’m angry at myself because I can’t control my anger. It’s unconscious anger that’s the real problem.
If only I could create some space, so I can see it coming at me from farther down the road, giving me time to formulate a response.
Of course, nothing changes until we hit a bottom. I had to come to the realization that the anger payoff wasn’t worth all the problems it caused. For me, it became clear that anger was putting up walls and causing me to miss out on opportunities, because I was too busy in my head, wasting time being angry. I also started noticing that my thoughts were sounding like a bunch of bullshit stories. Yes, things happened, but I was responsible for the story I told myself about the thing, and I was really good at making things worse.
It’s all about awareness. And now it’s important to me.
So, I started to question the thoughts that pop into my head. I became skeptical. Not everything I think is true. It’s a lot of old programming that doesn’t serve me, and I don’t always need to listen to it.
And I started practicing making space in between my thoughts by actively trying to not think for as long as possible, and as often as possible. Little by little, I started creating more of a gap in between each thought. Instead of it being one long stream – like a voice constantly talking to me, there are quiet moments. There’s space.
Now when something happens, there’s a gap between the time that I feel that emotion surge through my body and the words coming out of my mouth. I’ve bought myself time, so I can respond instead of react.
Being married, I get to practice this a lot! We can be out, having a great day, until my wife pushes one of my buttons. My first thought might be, “that bitch, who does she think she is!” But now (usually) I don’t react, I just remain present, and maybe say to myself, “well, I know that we love each other, so maybe I’m misunderstanding the situation.” What! Who the hell is this new person I’ve become? Where did that calm sanity come from? That’s the magic of awareness. Now I consider all the possibilities before I react. Did she mean to push my button? Did I say something to cause her to push my button in the first place? Or maybe the idea of a button is just a bullshit story altogether.
But this change didn’t happen overnight. It took practice. But, once I started putting consistent effort into creating more awareness and space, I noticed I was making better decisions in all areas of my life. I now have more peace and I connect with other people more easily. It seems that I attract more opportunities and feel more useful in the world. I feel like now, by being able to step back and notice situations, instead of reacting to them, I have real power.
Mindfulness, Music & Marketing. I’m obsessively curious about what makes people tick and what makes us all feel more connected.
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