expressing myself on anger

Usually when we get upset , or emotional, by one thing or the other, triggered as it were, we want to express ourselves so urgently that our emotions take over.

Many of us have never learned to express themselves well, if at all. I’m still learning today. The next step is to learn to express yourself in a polite way. And there I still have to learn a lot.

And the last step is to tune your expression in such a way that the listener doesn’t get upset, neither by the news, neither by the messenger, which is often not possible due to impolite listening.

the emotional discharge - often the expression of anger

the emotional discharge – often the expression of anger

Seems all humans share that old friend …, anger.
if you love him, he’ll become powerless,
if you harness his energy, if you dare,
he will change character and become your servant

It is often fear that leads to anger,
the fear that we would lose some object of desire
desire itself being neutral, but fear is not.
Loss of an object of desire is neutral, Reacting is not.

Fear leads to anger, and anger leads sometimes to survival
being scared to death, leads to death .. it immobilizes.


31 thoughts on “expressing myself on anger

    • I like that yoda quote, but why do we fear losing things? Why do we get so attached to even stupid things like coming home on time? And when we hear the car making strange noises we already start getting nervous … ?

  1. Well, I am still in a muddle… but listened to Pema Chodron today. I know some parts by heart but how come I can’t access them at the appropriate time??? First of all, you were right, Shantideva is the one she was analyzing, not Pantajali as I thought. He talks about the importance of patience in dealing with one’s own anger. And she elaborated on this, saying we have to sit still with the pain after the offending stimulus and not go to fear. When we go to fear and react to the pain, we lash out with aggression. She says one way of sowing the seeds of non-aggression, is to note the good things that happen each day, however small. To note them and feel the joy of them. And we can find good things in every day– from the pleasure of seeing the sky, or feeling warm when it is cold, or cool water on the face when it is hot, etc. etc. This creates a more positive outlook, more conducive to non-aggression and to sitting still with the pain and having compassion for the other. I suppose you would call this “mindfulness.” Hard for me to totally grasp all this and I still have two more CDs to this set to listen to. But she is really good.

    You are right, self-criticism just makes things worse. My social worker says to have compassion for the self.

    And I wondered about the ethnic stereotypes when Yogananda says that being very emotional is not the best approach. This part confuses me. Passion is good. Can one have passion without being very emotional? Also I wondered if this condemned poeple from my ethnicity to being lower level on the path. Again this points to the middle path which is what my Sicilian-peasant-turned-lawyer Grandfather always preached. I think calm is most important but I find it nearly impossible, being a very anxious and easily stimulated person. Calm allows for patience to prevail.

    That’s all I’ve got.

    • I remember this passage of noting the good things. I’ve been doing that ever since. The beauty of snow, a river, a cloud, the silence of the night, the sound of an owl, a smile …
      If passion goes through all levels as a drive in life, just like love or compassion and even fear or hope go through all levels, then I think that passion is not good and not bad. It is just a characteristic of wanting to do.
      I think indeed that if we can avoid feeling a loss of things, that the anger will not be strong, and the expression of fear of losing will be diminished.
      So not being attached too much to our system of being, properties and creations will lead to less feelings of losing them, and less fear, and hence less anger …
      I think i read this somewhere, not once, but a couple of times, but this time through reasoning, and with your help, I could point my own finger on this chain of events.

      • Interesting… I think I get it. Fear of loss stemming from attachment causes the anger. Thanks so much for your thoughtful replies. Helped me and were appreciated. A very thought-provoking interchange!
        P.S. I had thought of you and Asperger’s.

    • I have to keep that advise, although I feel very far from reaching the truth about who I am, so this challenge might lead me into a never ending labyrinth of circles and mirrors. The least I can say is that mind is not capable of doing this.

  2. I think Pema Chodron says that the pause becomes easier to access through meditation. It has been awhile. I should listen to the CD again– “Don’t Bite the Hook” is the one I think. God knows I need it. She also says how destructive anger is for everyone involved. And the impact it has on relationships. She analyzes the works of Patanjali on the CD. Having grown up with a second generation peasant Sicilian mother I can say not getting angry is a challenge. It is so hard to have that pause when one is not calm, or frazzled or when a loved one pushes the most powerful buttons. So I guess we get the silence as a carry-over from meditating. I think Self-Realization talks about this, too, in a more general way, about all emotions.
    Have to thank you for stimulating me to reread “Divine Romance” and now to listen to Pema Chodron again. My social worker recommended her but I had found her books long ago. She’s great and very funny and has a wonderful voice.

    • But you have said “i fail constantly” to enlarge the moment between anger and expression. So do I. I think this is not going to be corrected by meditation alone. Meditation, being listening to mind will certainly give some insights in the workings of anger, but the insight alone is apparently, at least in my own case, not enough. The mindfulness approach doesn’t work all the time.
      My great great grand mother came also from the south of Italy, in the 19th century. This thing ‘passionate behaviour’ is indeed part of my blood in one way, part of my upbringing in another. The unlearning I have done in the past 5 years must have reduced the anger for 20% or so, but not visible for the outside world. What really works is completely different. Apparently, now and then there is a sudden realization that anger is ‘going on’. That realization takes most power away from the anger. Is that the Silence taking over?
      I also really enjoyed ‘when things fall apart’ from Pema Chodron.
      Shantideva is also a great specialist on anger, but does not talk about how to cure it.
      Does it need to be cured?
      Are we not looking at it from the wrong perspective?
      There is also this:

      • Right now my head is muddled about the anger issue. It seems to me there are a few things we are talking about here. Justifiable and controlled anger channeled into making things better or clarifying things like boundaries that have been crossed and what I and other Aspies call meltdowns– inappropriate and uncontrolled anger. The latter is what I want to get rid of. It occurs when I have been overstimulated beyond my breaking point and that does not take much since I have Asperger’s. These moments shame me even though they may have causes outside myself. Many are my own fault for not setting limits but some are circumstances beyond my control. Being Aspie is no excuse– I must learn control and avoid all overstimulation if possible. Justifiable and controlled anger can be good. Christ got angry in the Temple. But I want to think all this over again and listen to my Pema Chodron CD again to see what she says.
        Certainly meltdowns are not the way to go. And I feel horribly guilty during and after them, plus they have been directed at another. I am hating myself as they occur but cannot stop. Meditation can help this.

        The link you sent makes a good point. We don’t want to stifle all passion. Passion can be used to do good things. And I don’t want to take away the good sides of passion– being loving and giving and dedicated to good causes, good people, etc. etc. But held up as an ideal is the person who has his emotions under control. I think Yogananda’s disciples teach that being ruled by emotion is not good and meditation helps with that. Part of having a Sicilian mother was not all negative, to avoid her temper but also being shown how to be affectionate and loving and think of others. This is the good side of emotional.

        Anyhow that is as far as I have gotten so far.

        • So when we react as a non-acceptance to ‘what is at the moment’, we react triggered by our fear of losing what we thought as a steady state of ‘what was and should remain’ – a belief that we own control.
          But if we can remove that sometimes horrible fear (as you said can be more extreme in aspergers – making me sometimes think whether I also have the label), have we then not touched the heart of the matter?
          But if you or i learn to control the loss of control, aren’t we running around in circles?
          Guilt is also to be avoided, because it adds to the problem. It makes us crawl back into our shell, where everything is under control.
          So there might be nothing wrong with passion, I really think there is nothing wrong with it, since passion is neutral. It can be a great motivator to create marvellous things. If passion can be the difference between Sicilian or Norwegian then I prefer to experience both. But I don’t believe it is as simple as that. Ingmar Bergman was a great and passionate film director from Sweden. So passion itself is probably not a regional thing.

          The problem is the fear of losing control, which contrary to our beliefs makes us indeed losing control emotionally and react to protect what we thought was our steady state.

          does this make sense?
          or is it the Catalonian wine I just drank making me reason in circles myself?

          To me this is a great conversation. You have taught me a lot .. although the image is not yet clear.

  3. Yes, the expression is the key. I fail constantly. That pause between the emotion and the expression is crucial. And one must channel it carefully because suppressed, it festers, and as Pema Chodron says, we make a case for our anger, stoking the fires. And unexpressed and turned inward it leads to depression.

      • I have only listened to a few of Pema Chodron’s CDs and read 2 of her books. Find her very helpful but Yogananda is my true teacher. But Pema Chodron is so good on anger. It seems it is that one moment after the stimulus that we have to pause.

        • But how can you do that if there is no silence?
          There is the emotion, provoking a thunderstorm of thoughts … awareness is watching this, bit when the head is racing, how to intervene – one moment of silence is enough, but how do you ‘get’ that moment?
          Let’s turn it around. Leave the emotion, it is there, why does it provoke thoughts that want to be expressed so suddenly? I should attack the thoughts, not the emotion, but the useless thoughts evoked by the emotion.
          These thoughts after emotion have been learned through being raised as a child by parents expressing their anger, by brothers and sisters expressing their anger, by children in the playground expressing their anger … all that has to be unlearned.

  4. Eperiencing and expressing emotions appropriately is certainly a fine balancing act. Something I’ve spent a lot of time working on but still finding it difficult at times. One thing I have learned from emotions is that they aren’t inflicted on us from external circumstances. They are already inside us, the external circumstances we find ourselves in simple shine a light on them. With that attitude, I find, emotions are expressed in a very clear way. So If I get angry because someone says something to offend me, I realise that the person and their words aren’t the source of my anger, and so I allow myself to become the emotion of anger, but it becomes an internal thing rather than an explosive outburst towards another person. This way the anger passes after a few moments. At least that’s how I allow emotions to flow.

    • Sometimes it works like that, and what works inside me too is the insight that it happens, and then, poof … it goes by itself. But there is also the ramsay-meter and the accompanying level of awareness: if the meter reads red, the awareness is often lower and often has not enough energy to look at it from a different perspective …

      • This is a very good point to make about awareness, often it’s in hindsight that I realise I was experiencing a certain emotion. Emotions can come so fast and with such intensity that we don’t even realise we’re expressing them.

        As you say, we live and learn. Eventually our awareness becomes sharper and those moments of intense emotions lessen in number. Hopefully!

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