Ok, this is it on the anger subject, but during my ruminations this past month I came across several truths that it seems are important for me to remember.
1.Whenever a brother/sister attacks you, hear it as a cry for more love. (A Course in Miracles…paraphrased). In other words, “don’t take it personally.”
2.When someone is angry or defensive toward you, recognize it as the parts of themselves that they haven’t loved enough. (Matt Kahn, Whatever Arises, Love That) In other words, “don’t take it personally”
3.Right before a walk last week I had just read from Tosha Silver’s book, Outrageous Openness, this story:
A person in an airport line got frustrated with her and lashed out. This was her response,
“As she attacked, a sense arose within me, ‘Wow, this poor disturbed lady. She can barely get through the day. This has nothing to do with me.’ I grinned into her steely eyes. I could feel the poignancy of her explosion. I had an overwhelming sense of someone who had never been listened to, whose own voice had never been heard. No wonder she was so pissed. All I could feel was, ‘This is how she talks to herself. This is how she was treated.’ I remembered some of that from my own childhood. ‘She just never knew she could change inside.’ Waves of compassion arose as I mentally sent her good thoughts.”
So the learning for me is this: Instead of constricting in hurt, or defensiveness when someone is upset with me, I can open my heart wider. I can allow the feeling and then choose to expand so that I see with clarity the other’s pain and acknowledge their suffering. I can remember to not take it personally, which helps my heart to open. This doesn’t preclude expressing what my needs are or sharing how the outburst affected me, but it does mean that when I do take action it will come from a more compassionate place. It also doesn’t hurt to take a few moments to gently examine my part in the interaction. Not taking it personally doesn’t mean I don’t own whatever part I played.
Iyanla Vanzant is a well known author and teacher who hosts a reality show on the Own network called Iyanla, Fix my Life. When asked in an interview how she dealt with attacks from others she explained that she felt we should always speak up, but to do it with a loving and compassionate heart. Here are two ways that she herself responds to an attack:
“Beloved, I did not give you permission to speak to me in that way.”
“Please forgive me for anything I’ve done that made you think you had permission to speak to me in that way. Please tell me what it was.”
I think one would need to be careful in saying these phrases to not put a sarcastic spin on the words. But the idea is still valid…..we can speak our truth while our heart remains open and compassionate.
One of the tools that I have used for many years when I’m dealing with any personal conflict with someone is to sit in silence, open my heart, and send them a lovingkindness blessing. “May they be at peace. May they be free from suffering. May they remember the beauty of their own true nature. May they live their life with ease.” It’s very hard to hold onto any angst toward someone when you are blessing them.
Tosha Silver in her book, Outrageous Openness, says this, “Sometimes the people with the most anger need the most help. You never know what sending them blessings can do. You might be the only one on the planet winging good their way.”
Amen to that.