Using Your Anger to Illuminate the Fundamental Truth of Your Self-nature

Most people – “the good vibes only” people in particular – tend to shy away from and may even passive-aggresively shame people who come to the party of life angry.  No drama here. No conflict. No, no, no. . .they will have none of it.  Confrontation just freaks them out.

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I’ve come to know anger on a very intimate level. We’re like BFF’s and believe me you, more recently in my life, my anger has served me well.  It has acted like a guiding light, helping free myself from the pain, guilt and shame I’ve been lugging around for years.

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One of my first really angry memories involved being bitten bloody on the arm by my raging cousin Ralph. Oh what a misfit he was. A terror. It hurt like hell. A big imprint of his huge buck teeth piercing the broken skin on my upper arm. It was a typical Sunday dinner at nanny’s house. Steaming plates of pasta and a big loud Italian family, all talking on top of one another, no one listening, ignoring the children, the women complaining and the men, oh the bravado and machismo. A scene out of . . .

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I was so enraged that I ran up to the dining room table and decided to let all of the adults at the table about what happened. I yelled at the top of my lungs, “YOUR SON JUST TOOK A BITE OUT OF MY ARM, HE IS AN ANIMAL.”  And in less than a split second everyone at the table began to laugh out loud at me. The table was rolling with laughter. I was astonished.

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Ignoring anger, any type of anger, whether it is yours or someone else’s, is not a strategy, period.

Pretending your not angry, “working out” your rage at the gym, downward dogging that dreaded pain and/or massaging your mind with positive affirmations will only create a deeper harbor for anger to anchor itself in your subconscious, and those are some deep and dark waters my friend.

I have been accused of being angry most of my life. I have damaged friendships, relationships and have gotten shunned by almost every member of my family for being angry. We are all good now, but it took a lot of deep digging to find out why I was a rage-full mad woman.

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I have come to learn that anger needs some proper investigation on a regular basis because it is a sure sign that something in your life is out of alignment with what you value and an indication that you are in need of some loving care.

Fear

 

It’s a red flag that your needs are not being met. And damn we have to meet those needs. Anger actually is a powerful emotion that protects us from feeling hurt and hopeless. Maybe even powerless. Feeling powerless is about as low as  you can go.

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Anger can be a very necessary emotion which will let you know without a doubt when you are feeling threatened and vulnerable.  When we approach anger with curiosity, when we ask ourselves “why the hell is this making me so angry?” when we take a peak at what is behind the anger curtain, the root of the problem, we find that we may be feeling hurt, betrayed, disappointed and disillusioned.

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It is to this place we must go, to the pain behind anger, with open arms, where we feel ourselves turned inside out, where we feel raw, bloody and wounded- that is what is underneath the anger. If you really want to become less angry, this is the bleeding wound that must be healed.  And you can’t rely on others to rub in the ointment and wrap the bandages. Oh no, this is an inside job.

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So if you struggle with a low tolerance for frustration or someone tells you that you need anger management therapy, try a bit of self-care.  Investigate that anger. Get up close and personal with the pain.

From Uprooting the Seeds of Anger

We might explore this possibility by asking ourselves about where our anger really comes from. What is the other side of anger? Fear. We can’t free ourselves until we work through both our anger and our fear. And what is the cause of fear? Ultimately, it is the fear of nonexistence, death, the fear of losing ourselves and being forgotten. But a fear of death translates into a fear of living, because impermanence is itself a fundamental condition of our lives. In this fear lie the seeds of anger.

So now, how do I deal with angry people? I realize that hurt people hurt. I approach them with curiosity. What is behind that big, bad bark? 

For myself, now when I get angry, I know how to soothe myself (a very good thing to learn how to do by the way). I take to the waters and I meditate.

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Now I know. . .

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How Honest Do We Really Want to Be with Ourselves?

I am 1,000 % absofuckinglutely certain that I should be recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the biggest idiot on the planet for repeating the same damn mistakes over and over again for most of my adult life. Life on repeat can be brutal.

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Why am I so susceptible to making the same mistakes over and over again?  Whether it’s ruining a diet with three glasses of wine, running credit card debt on a bunch of useless stuff I never needed in the first place, trusting a friend who was way less than honest or sacking up with an ex.  What possesses me/us to continue to do things that get in the way of what we truly want? Is it fear of the unknown? Fear of what life would be if we didn’t do the things we did on repeat? Maybe. Perhaps it’s a matter of finding the holes. The holes we keep falling into. The mind-numbing, soothing and relaxing way our brain feels after a glass or two or three of wine. Or the familiar, comfortable and easy way it feels to slip right back into the arms of the one you once loved.  I need to look at the benefits of my biggest mistakes.

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Read: How to be honest with yourself and get more done, for some decent advice on how to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Harmful Habits & Slipping into Default Mode

When we do something right, a pathway is created in our brain. Unfortunately, a pathway is also created when we something wrong. We basically build habits this way, both good and bad. So the reason we keep making the same mistakes is that we slip by default back into existing neural pathways.

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Achieving Ego Free States

Sometimes I feel like I need a complete rewiring of the brain.

Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results.

It seems that individuals under “treatment” transcend their primary identification with their bodies and experience ego-free states . . . and return with a new perspective and profound acceptance. Read more in The New Yorker: The Trip Treatment

Natural Reactions

If you have ever been accused of “overreacting” and you think something is wrong with you because someone told you so, then this 10-minute watch is critical for your growth. Bottom line: Reactions are NATURAL. Overreacting is a warning sign that you have been hurt badly. You have to HEAL that, not shame it away.

 

When Our Minds Run in Circles

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Reading, learning and practicing how to meditate to calm my mind, I am focusing on what Buddhists call “maitri”

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Maitri – practicing loving kindness and awareness to all your thoughts. Read: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron. The purpose of meditation is not to find your bliss, but to befriend and let go of all thoughts – the good, the bad and the ugly. To accept them all with loving-kindness, with maitri.

The Benefits of Being Socially Selective

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I just don’t have the bandwidth, headspace or patience for anyone right now. That is quite alright in my book. Sometimes we need a little solitude to sort things out. I just wish more people were fluid in silence.

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Comment  below if you agree and have a great Monday.

 

Blind to the Beauty of This Moment

Distraction is the main problem for us all – what the Buddha called the monkey mind. We need to tame this little monkey mind. Tenzin Palmo

As entertaining as it can be, please don’t feed the monkey mind.

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When we are unaware that we are unaware.
Then we rush and ramble through the day, doing the “important” and the urgent, going after the goals, just killing it, aren’t we though?
Both numb and dumb to the fierce and wild beauty of the present moment.
Asleep at the wheel.
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Not taking notice of our surroundings, the people we are with and even our own presence. Too busy snapping instead of savoring.
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Oh to be mindless,  as we let the monkeys swing from vine to vine through our head. Pulling us from thought-to-thought with our every emotion.  The seedlings for anxiety and panic.
So disconnected with life smack in front of us – to notice the simple and ordinary joy of the day or the pain and suffering of our brother nearby.
And those seemingly little blessings that are happening every moment for our benefit? Wait for it.
Your mind just can’t be here, there and everywhere, yet this is how we go.
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To be painfully and gratefully aware and awake with appreciation.  This is how we grow.
Inspired by my mother’s doctor who removed her cataracts today. Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 and is the principal cause of blindness in the world.
Overtime, like many people, mom got use to seeing the world in a blurry, shadow-like haze. In faded color instead of technicolor. It happened gradually over time. Let us not get use to going blind to the beauty of this moment.
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Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

Repeating this mantra softly to myself has helped me sail through the hours of overwhelming tasks in a day. It has stopped me from rushing and I hate rushing. Rushing just sucks. It makes life feel hasty.  I want to savor life. Even the boring parts.

This idiom also applies to anything you do. It has helped me improve my days.

When properly learning something new

quote-the-only-skill-that-will-be-important-in-the-21st-century-is-the-skill-of-learning-new-peter-drucker-81-53-26Any new skill that you are trying to learn should first be practiced slowly.

Performing any action too fast will have you sacrificing technique which will in turn slow your development. It will also limit the greatness you could have achieved.

 

Real but not True – a Mindset for Success

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If you suffer from even just an occasional attack of anxiety, worry or ruminating thoughts, this post has some very useful tips on how to stop the spin cycle of subcortical looping, ie. excessive, repeating thoughts of worry and fear. These are therapies and tips that I have been researching and trying on myself. They are not to replace professional medical guidance.

First, a few book quotes from  Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness

Worrying as a Way of Controlling the Future

The thoughts spinning around and around in our minds can be very convincing. We build elaborate scenarios of failure and chaos and believe them to be true. This may be very creative, but not conducive to happiness! Worry is a very real kind of mental suffering. I know because I come from a lineage of worriers myself. My mother used to joke that when she couldn’t think of anything to worry about, she’d really get worried. “It was my way of making sure I was taking care of things,” she says.

These are the thoughts that hold us back from doing the things that will bring us success. 

Phantom Problems

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Our minds can get stuck in worrying about phantom problems that we convince ourselves are real. As Mark Twain put it, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

Reasonable planning for the future can give us direction, but obsessing about what might go wrong puts us in a perpetual state of stress and rarely brings about positive results. 

The Problem with Chronic Worry is that it Solves Nothing and Causes Stress

“New solutions and fresh ways of seeing a problem do not typically come from worrying, especially chronic worry. Instead of coming up with solutions to these potential problems, worriers typically simply ruminate on the danger itself, immersing themselves in a low-key way in the dread associated with it while staying in the same rut of thought.” – Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence.

Read more Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

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Health Problems Associated with Obsessive Worry

Not only does worrying drain your energy, chronic worrying will eventually manifest into insomnia, sleep disorders, stomach problems, heart issues, binge eating, headaches, anxiety and depression. I personally have suffered through IBS and severe panic attacks and have been seeking guidance and help my whole life. However, I no longer want to feel this way.

Your Worry and Thoughts are Real, but Not True

So how do we wake ourselves up from the suffering of obsessive worry and anxiety?  Tara Brach, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of The Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC (IMCW) suggests you shine some light on the worry by asking yourself a series of questions that begin with – What am I believing right now? Are you believing you will fail at something in the future? That something is wrong with you? That doom and gloom is right around the corner?

While the beliefs you have and those ruminating thoughts running your mind may feel very real they not necessarily true and they may be causing a very real physical effect on your body – like tightness, anxiety and fear.

Illusion exists because it’s not investigated.

As soon as you start questioning these thoughts and beliefs and shine a light of investigation on your fear-based loops you can begin to wake up out of their grip.

Question Your Beliefs

Shining the light of awareness on our worry really helps.  Byron Katie the founder of Byron Katie International (BKI), an organization that includes The School for the Work and Turnaround House in Ojai, California recommends we ask ourselves some powerful questions as we investigate the validity of our worry.

Take a moment to answer these questions. (Note, this is not a one time quick fix, in order to really do the work, these questions should be asked over and over again, it’s a practice.)

What am I believing right now?

Is it true? Do I really know that this is true?

What is it like to be living with this belief?  What does it feel like? Do I feel small? Contracted? Sad? Defeated?

How has this affected my life to be believing this?

How would I be if I didn’t believe this to be true?

These questions and post was inspired today by this amazing talk by Tara Brach. Click here to listen to more Releasing Limiting Beliefs   

Suggested Reading: True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

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Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

I am researching and studying the benefits of a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Here are a few tips I have picked up a long the way. They have certainly helped me lighten up from the weighted suffering of worry.

Pause and Breathe

Mindfulness interrupts the tape loop by bringing us back to the moment so we can respond to what is actually happening right now. Mindfulness meditation shifts the mode adopted in response to thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness meditation involves a particular kind of attention and mental stance: deliberately, intentionally and non-judgementally paying attention to the present moment. Just one minute of mindful awareness can break the sub-cortical looping and rumination. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out. Just focus on that breath moving in and out of your body.

Look for Triggers

Triggers are warning signs and triggers for rumination include tiredness, inactivity and irritability. It is important to watch your mind and become aware of any of these emotions, which can lead to bouts of anxiety and obsessive worry. These can be counteracted by taking better care of yourself ie. plenty of rest, exercise and nutrition.

Get up and Move and maybe Join a Team

Cognitive behavior therapy has found that exercise and sports that are action focused and have us directly engaged in an experience can help release worry and rumination. Think yoga, tabata, tennis, skiing and team sports. Participating in sports that require your attention and engagement may really help you immerse in a sensory experience which will help you break the pattern of fear and worry.

Start a New Project

Shifting your activities from routine chores and obligations towards more self-fulfilling and absorbing activities will help you refocus your mind on something new. So will taking a more mindful approach to cleaning the house, running errands and folding the laundry.

Slow Down and Reduce the Rush

CBT therapists will encourage patients to slow things down while only focusing on one thing at a time. They will ask their patients to pace their activities without taking on too much which also may help  reduces the sense of “rushing around” and “being under pressure”.

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When we lighten up and let go of real but not true thoughts, we make room for more in our lives.

What have you tried that has helped? I’d love to learn more.

 

Freedom from the Fear of the Unknown

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Working Against the Tide
Every day felt like a meaningless and grueling grind. The 90 minute commute, the two hour calls, the craziness and directionless confusion. The frustration was becoming intolerable and unbearable. The harder she tried to accomplish her tasks the more difficult and challenging they became. She was working against the tide. She knew that it was very wrong to stay, she was so very unhappy, just miserable really, but she was entrapped by the sense of security of steady pay.
Soul Scraping and Mind Twisting
Days turned into weeks and weeks into long and tiresome months as they drowned her in mindless heaps of senseless work. She came with grand ideas and an astonishingly powerful vision but she stayed with her soul scraping the ground behind her, disempowered and disenchanted.
A Crazy Crew of Misfits
She realized they’d never change and their demise inevitable. The crazy crew of misfits, the bureau of imaginary problems, manufacturing crap that nobody needed. Oh and the office clan, you know the annoying cast of pervasive personalities, they playing starring roles in failing and crumbling companies around the world.
Weird Office Culture
Mad Mary, the desolate bookkeeper who bullies and snarls as she writes the checks. Sorry ass Sam, Operations “Director”, who squirms at the thought of having to deal with the world, always repeating but never contributing. The first one to whine during the long conference meetings in a stale, windowless room. And then there was timid Lucy, whose command of the English language was limited at best, making training a painful and arduous process. But oh how they loved her, because she yes’d them to death. Even as the ship went down.
Freedom from the Fear of the Unknown
She had enough with it all, it was time to leave. It was either security or her soul.  To take the leap, the dive, the jump. The fear of falling without a net, without a job, without the false sense of security scared her beyond her wildest belief.
 Saving Her Soul & Sparking Joy
But she did. And when she did, it felt wonderful, liberating and free. All was well with the world. Security could not buy the sense of splendor in her heart for having the courage to save her soul.
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Onwards and upwards, she had a plan, a plan to build her own empire of inspiration. This next chapter entitled “Sparking Joy“.
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No Cliffhangers

The Art of Not Panicking, Keeping Your Composure and How to Re-Write the Rules of Life

John Glenn“When America raced to send the first men into space, they trained the astronauts in one skill more than in any other: the art of not panicking.

When people panic, they make mistakes. They override systems. They disregard procedures, ignore rules. They deviate from the plan. They become unresponsive and stop thinking clearly. At 150 miles above Earth in a spaceship smaller than a VW, this is death. Panic is suicide.”

A quote from Ryan Holiday’s fascinating book

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

ObstacleDuring his orbit around earth, American astronaut John Glenn’s heart rate never went above 100 beats per minute. Consider that for a moment, he was in a tiny space ship miles and miles above our planet and he never lost his cool.

Every Day Work Day Panic and Anxiety

Flash to the average work week. Think about how some of us react to what happens throughout our day. Even some of the smallest challenges become ridiculously big obstacles (in our minds).

  • Our hearts begin to race while mind-ruminates and body tenses as we frustratingly fret over how to respond to a mean-spirited and snarky email from a co-worker.
  • Our stomach churning as we hold our breath before an important sales pitch presentation.
  • We run for the bar before we work the room at yet another after-hour “networking” event. Our minds not in the game and just going through the motions.

We become stuck, paralyzed by obstacles of and not of our own making. The daily struggle lies in turning trials into triumphs and the awful into opportunity. Want to dive deeper? Read more about the secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai here.

Pause, Breathe and Take a Moment to Compose Yourself

xanaxIf you have read this far, I would imagine that you are not rummaging through your bag for another .5 mg dose of Xanax, but looking for a healthier and more mindful way to deal with every day panic and anxiety.

Research shows meditation-style breathing can make you courageous,increase your attention span, and even boost happiness.

Take just five minutes each day to watch your breath go in and out. While you do so, try to remain patient. If you find your mind drifting, just slowly bring it back to focus. Meditation takes practice, but it’s one of the most powerful happiness interventions. Studies show that in the minutes right after meditating, we experience feelings of calm and contentment, as well as heightened awareness and empathy. And, research even shows that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness, lower stress, even improve immune function.

What matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure.

Ambition with Meaning

Lately I have been listening to many a friend and family member share their concern and desire to change they way they are living now, moving away from the driving demands of a 14 hour work day to a more purposeful, peaceful and calmer life. Yes ambition is necessary and can even be wonderful but ambition with meaning, well that shit is sacred.

Navigating your life with Poise, Grace and Power

Some of these more mindful millennials that I refer to have the resources to enjoy a ten day getaway to discover meditation and mindfulness on solitude retreats. A ten-day stint in a tree house in the jungles of Tulum, Mexico on Airbnb with water cleansing massages and sun basked mud masks.

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I have noticed a huge movement of those waking up earlier in life to realize, “not my rules, not my purpose.”  The intention: Re-write the rules, make more room for meaning in their lives. Make money, but with pleasure.

Truth be told, you don’t need to go away and remove yourself from your environment to make a change. You don’t need to quit your job right way either. What you can do, is change your perception to what is happening around you right now and focus on designing a life filled with daily habits that are more conducive to a meaningful life.

Ground Control

It all starts with controlling our perception. When something is happening to us we need to ask, How am I perceiving this? What meaning am I giving it? It is really a horrific experience or is it an opportunity for growth?

I have a big secret to share. A vulnerable moment for me. I  use to suffer from severe anxiety, panic disorder and fear. Movement, meditation and mindfulness have become my daily dose of medication.

Curious, how are you managing your panic, your anxiety? How are you adding more meaning to your life? How are you re-writing the rules?

The Perils of an Easy Existence

photographers-gallery111-1024x682We all wish for a simple, peaceful, calm and enjoyable life, but challenges and problems are inevitable. Awesome advice from Demetrius the cynic on how to rise to life’s daily frustrations and annoyances.

“If you have nothing to stir up and rouse you into action, nothing which will test your resolution by its threats and hostilities; if you recline in unshaken comfort, it is not tranquility; it is merely a flat calm.”

Bear as bravely as possible the things one cannot avoid. Clothe yourself with a hero’s courage. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca . . .Read more stoicism philosophy  – 

Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)