Normally, I think of myself as a pretty upbeat person. Oh, I’ve had some bouts of depression and my internal dialogue can be harsh – sometimes even vicious – but more often than not, you’ll see me dancing around the house and being fairly light-hearted and enthusiastic about life.
And then there are those days that I feel just plain angry. Boiling over angry. Yelling at God angry. Yesterday was one of those days. There wasn’t a reason that I could identify, I was just mad. Lean-on-the-horn-when-some-guy-snakes-in-front-of-me-angry. (Okay, I didn’t actually
do that, but I thought about it!)
In my family of origin, only my father was “allowed” to express his anger. The few times I remember acting out in anger resulted in shaming and/or punishment. Ladies didn’t get angry. In our family, they got sad and depressed and drank instead.
That didn’t seem like a good option to me.
What I’m learning, though, especially when there’s no “good” reason for my anger or frustration, is that the best thing for me to do is just ride the wave of anger. It will pass. I don’t need to worry about what it means that I’m angry or to shame myself or judge myself for being angry. I can take good care of myself – eat well, drink lots of water, exercise, get rest, and not engage with a whole lot of people if I don’t feel like it.
It’s no surprise that the less I resist the anger, the easier it seems to deal with. I come back frequently to the Rumi poem, The Guest House. Can I welcome these feelings in as though they were guests, rather than fight them and try to shove them in a corner or out the back door? And what treasures might be opened up as the feelings are treated honorably?
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
It doesn’t seem reasonable to welcome in the darker emotions, but it pays off far more than fighting the emotions. Power struggles with them, you only prolong the pain and frustration.
photo: ID 39084156 © Johan Larson | Dreamstime