Fist fight

Meditation, Mental health

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?

I will scream and shout


How do you deal with toddler tantrums? Actually, are they really toddler tantrums? My baby has them and my five year old has them. In fact, I have them too.

I *almost* had one this morning when the google maps app thing on my iPhone 1) went mysteriously silent so I couldn’t hear the directions but had to assimilate them into my being while driving and 2) Took me on a weird, ill-thought out goose chase to a house which was less than 10 minutes’ drive away but nestled, camouflaged, in a maze of tiny streets.

It’s the small things that derail you when you are trying to hold your shit together as a parent. God, kids are really cute and all – I mean, they are ridiculously cute with their baby bellies and their lispy half-baked sentences – but there’s nothing adorable about tantrums. This morning, I was treading on eggshells, terrified of upsetting the three-year-old because I have a cold and therefore my coping strategies are down. It didn’t work, he pulled a record of one tantrum every few minutes or so for the whole first shaky hour of the day.

I’ve learned that if I lose it after he loses it, he will lose it even more and we will be upping each other on our losing it into infinity. It’s no good. Meanwhile, endless patience sometimes feels like giving in. He’s being unreasonable, and bossing me around. I could be raising a brat. Both of my older boys do this ‘Uggggggh’ guttural sound when they are angry, which they ape directly from me. I mean, these children just copy us a lot of the time. Yes, they have those absurd and explosive tantrums unique to toddlers, but they are still little carbon copies of us.

It shocks me that many of the reactions I have to my own children are precisely the ones my mother had with me. We imprint our ways of being on our children every moment we are with them and once knotted in, they are hard to unravel.

It’s a lot of pressure isn’t it?

I hang on to meditation like a life buoy in an ocean of dodgy learned behaviours, automatic reactions, and those adult-y tantrums which are so much more restrained – and so much more dangerous. I hang on to it for dear life in the belief that I will have a hope in hell of changing my brain, and therefore teaching my children a better way to be in the world.