Being Present With It: Centered Anger

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A while back, I wrote about being present with happiness. I reflected on how it can be as difficult to be present in happiness as in anger and that meditation and reflection offered ways to appreciate happiness without losing ourselves to it or letting it slip by unnoticed. The same principles apply to anger.

You’d probably just as soon let angry moments go by. Why would you want to stay present with anger?

Have you ever said something you regret in the heat of the moment? I have. Or what about that email SEND button? Have you ever pressed it too fast?

Staying present with anger is imperative if you want to take your next action on purpose. Taking a deep breath before responding restores balance and creates an important space between your reaction and your response to reflect on questions such as:

· What value is urging me forward?

· Why does this person have the power to unbalance me?

· Could I be more curious about what’s driving them to do what they do?

· Is there a principle I need to stand up for?

· What assumptions am I making that might not be accurate?

· Is this my own “stuff” or is there a conversation I want to step up to?

· What would be my purpose for holding the conversation?

In difficulty and conflict, I get triggered. Chemicals are released in my brain that cause me to react. I get angry. I flip back and forth between blaming myself for having the emotion and blaming something outside myself for causing it.

Yet, emotions aren’t bad, they just are. What I do next determines whether I learn from this moment or react in less purposeful ways. Do I act out of the anger and possibly harm myself and others? Or do I listen to myself and pay attention?

As Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, said: “Opponents confront us continually, but actually there is no opponent there.” He also said that “true victory is self victory.”

I think there’s something to this. What do you think?

Written by

Judy Ringer is the author of Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace and Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict.

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