I had a not-so-lovely dance with rage this morning. It doesn’t really matter what set me off, I’m telling you about it because each time it happens, I am freshly shocked as to where the anger comes from and how it can be so powerful as an emotion.
It’s horrible. It is absolute monkey brain in action. Now that I meditate regularly I notice that the anger usually rises and falls quickly. It doesn’t stay, because I can feel it in my body, I can pinpoint it almost as a separate thing to me. I’m not blindly angry about things anymore. I think meditation has made me take a huge step back from it. It makes me want to examine it. There are distinct levels of being you discover when you meditate every day and there is always, always a very distant layer at the top – one that observes. It looks at what you are doing and it doesn’t say, holy hell that is terrible, or well done chump you’ve lost it again. It’s just sort of sitting there, holding you. I suppose if it could speak it would be calm and neutral. Oh I don’t know what it would say! Anger is such a destructive emotion but I absolutely believe that it is better out than in.
You obviously can’t keep directing it at other people, but you can’t suppress it either. Someone did say to me years ago that my torpor of a depression was anger turned inwards. I thought it was a pretty lazy thing to say, like, how handy for you that you’ve compressed my decades-long depression into one sentence. But now, after some years of looking within myself in order to try to correct my less useful tendencies, I see that they were right.
Anger is not really going to go anywhere, I guess, once you have those tendencies. I think this is brilliant from Maria Popova’s website Brain Pickings. She draws the reader’s attention to the poet May Sarton, who says: ‘Sometimes I think the fits of anger are like a huge creative urge gone into reverse, something dammed up that spills over…’ The creative urge gone into reverse is a great way to put it – it’s some kind of life force; tangible, gone in to reverse, yes. It is something dammed up, for sure. It works with triggers, of course it does – the thing that you are getting angry about now might be small, but it is certainly triggered from something that happened to you in your past.
If you want to grow, really grow as a human being, and become the best one you can be, then you have to spend some time figuring out what these triggers are, and then you have to disable them. They must be unpicked, taken apart and made harmless in their dissection – that’s if you want to stop suffering. And don’t we all?