“I’m not angry,” said my very well-controlled 16 year old during a disagreement.
Her body language, the mutinous purse of her lips, the flashing eyes all belied her words. In her youth, she thinks that quelling her raging emotions gives her the moral high ground ….. but oh, so many adults think so too, don’t we????
It is perfectly fine to be angry and to have moments when you absolutely hate someone or something. It is far better rather than denying it for the sake of sounding superior. Those feelings make us human beings and we were given a full complement of emotions to experience in this life.
It is how we REACT to those very natural feelings that make a difference. Denying its existence will serve no purpose. To say, “yes I fucking hate you but I am going to embrace it and think charitably about you, because I acknowledge that I too am not perfect” is our spiritual journey. So says thousands of years of yogi philosophy especially when it comes to meditation.
I know someone who had a psycho ex who treated him unkindly, stalking him even when he moved countries and continued the harassment for years, telling sick stories to get him back whenever he had enough. This person’s anger, resentment and fear surfaces years later at the most inopportune time, seeing innocent and unrelated people as possessing his ex’s quality, however irrational.
Ditto my own case. I went to University on full academic scholarship, but with young children, there wasn’t enough money. I used to skip lectures to tutor A level students at a local crammers college and I also worked at my friend’s company called Rembrandt’s Hat. I used to go to work at 10pm, after my children had gone to bed (I value our time together so much). I would stagger back to bed at 2 or 3am, and wake up again the next morning to have breakfast with them. I thought all these hardships would end when I graduated, but despite six years at University, I still struggled. I hated the Labour government with a vengeance. I attacked Tony Blair at every turn. It did not make me feel better, any more than my rants making a difference to my country. It still ran under the Blair government. It took me years to be honest enough to realise that I suffered financially because of two reasons: I chose not to compromise on my principles and I chose to live in Knightsbridge. It was convenient and comfortable to vent at Tony Blair (and telling myself and the world, justifiably so), but it did not help me until I accepted the real reasons.
Thus, understanding the key of our emotions paves the way for a better life. The Gottman Institute recently published this picture on their Facebook page (please click here to visit):
If we don’t learn what the reasons behind our anger, hatred, annoyance, etc, are, we end up being in the same wrong movie again and again. It just keeps coming back, when you least expect it. For example, my partner often got angry at me over a couple of things, and one day, after some deep soul-searching, he came to the realisation that it had nothing to do with me or the subject at all, but events that happened many years ago. He still gets annoyed about it, but understanding the source certainly makes it simpler and he is beginning to deal with it.
I live in hope that one day, I can interrupt him at work and tell him, “We are going to drive to High Street Kensington, wander around the aisles of Whole Foods for an hour whilst I figure out what new recipe to try, and then when we get home, you are going to help me in the kitchen, drink green smoothies and eat three different kinds of salad that took us two hours to prepare” without him exploding “You are so *&*(^%%(***% inconsequential sometimes despite your many degrees”, “Why are you wasting your life?”, “The world doesn’t have enough food, woman!” or fatally, “Find someone else.” The challenge for him is to look at the image below and face up to the real reasons why this annoys him so …. and it ain’t nothin’ to do with Whole Foods, salads, green smoothies or me.