Moving Through Anger
I remember standing up and arguing with my teacher in a 4th grade religion class because I felt she was passing unfair judgment on Judas Iscariot. I don't think she expected me LOL. It was an emotional class for me that day. I defend Judas because I see his struggle. And at the time, I saw him in myself. I identified with him. As I do with each of you. I did and do understand his pain. And I see it as something we all deal with if we are really honest about it. We all deal with doubt. We all deal with fear. We all deal with perceived scarcity. We all sometimes allow these emotions to dictate our behavior. And we all search to justify that behavior as the only choice to protect ourselves. It's a natural part of the human brain. Some of us judge ourselves harshly after seeing the repercussions of those behaviors and fall into a cycle of self-deprecation and sorrow; others just continue to insist it was the only way and do our best to ignore the aftermath. Either way, we often struggle internally with the choices we've made (whether or not we admit it). In addition, even our struggles, even our missteps, are an integral part (just as Judas's were) of a larger unfolding... allowing the lessons, the experiences, no matter how painful they may be, that each of us needs to evolve.
As an emotional empath, compassion is kind of my thing. I feel the shared experience and I easily relate it to my own. I see myself in others and I see others in me. I feel your hurt. I feel your struggle. And I empathize with that. I understand the unspoken feelings behind the words. I understand the emotions that others are actuated through. I feel them. I know that the behavior is not the person. Behavior is more like the person's best attempt to cope with (or escape) the struggle within themselves. I may not always understand those emotions, but I get where they are coming from, and I understand what it is like to be in them. I've bee there, too. I understand the limited perception that an intense emotional experience brings. When we are in that emotion, limits are created... boxes of what we should do or can't do or what little is available to get us through get placed. We do the only thing we feel we can to keep our head above water... and sometimes that thing is exactly what forces us further down. I get that. I do.
An ability to understand the common themes in all of our struggles and in all of our lives allows me to easily forgive. I don't stay angry. I do get angered on occasion, but I allow myself to consider the other person's perspective and I move into compassion with ease. I don't stay angry because I understand and I love without expectation. Instead of putting my energy into anger, I choose to be a part of the unfolding -- to look for what I can learn in it.
The past week has been a bit disruptive for me. Why? Because while I have clients say things to me all of the time like, "I feel like you SEE me," "How do you read people? ," or "There is finally someone who gets how I feel," I'm beginning to recognize that some of the people closest to me in my personal life, I do not have this innate ability to feel the emotions of. I wonder if this is some type of protection I built for myself. I know that I could when I was younger... feel the struggle of my mother, my brother, my friends, even the victims I saw on the news, and I often felt like I was drowning in all of it. Perhaps I have learned to separate myself over the years.
There are individuals in my life who I have built some kind of protective wall between. I do not understand what they are feeling. I do not know what actuates them. I cannot feel their experience as my own... so it is hard to make sense of it. I am willing to listen and develop empathy the old fashioned way, but when you have family members who are unwilling to talk about how they feel, this can make it difficult. Because I can't pick up on their emotions intuitively, when they can't openly express their feelings for me to understand, I find it hard to empathize.
I've never fully understood the inability to let go of anger that seems to be so widespread in this world... I get that a lot of people deal with it and I never judge anyone for it, but I didn't fully understand. Now I think I'm getting it. I am wondering if this is what non-empaths deal with on a regular basis. I am finding it very hard to move into compassion without having that understanding of the underlying emotions. I always considered my love to be without expectations, but perhaps there are some expectations there that I wasn't aware of. I think I expect that aspect of emotional humanness that I so readily identify with. I think I expect the recognition of that oneness... and depending on who we are dealing with... that might not always be available. (I mean it is there of course, but it might not be clear)
There is some anger that is very strange and unfamiliar to me. I've never felt it before. Never as more than a brief flicker that fades into deeper compassion and deeper love. I keep having moments where I just want to scream! It's not a fun place to be! I still consciously know that the behavior is separate from the person. I am not mad at this person, I am simply angered by this behavior I can't seem to understand. And I still consciously know that I love them no matter what. But I am finding it very hard not to question... I am finding it very hard to completely let go... The lack of a "struggle" behind the behavior (even though those emotional struggles usually do seem irrational) is really making this anger stick around. I keep thinking it has been released, and it continues to come up again, because I've nothing to identify with that allows me to let go. So, I am in this space of needing to release and re-release. Because my person is not ready to contemplate how they feel and share that with me, I must keep reminding myself that I do not need to understand them to love them. I keep doing my best to just be here and reinforce the idea that I am willing to listen whenever the talk is ready to be had. I also had to do some introspection and get a little clearer on what I need here. What boundaries do I need respected? What do I need from that person to feel better about this moving forward? How can the trust be repaired? What steps can be taken to rebuild this? These are things that can be talked about NOW.
Perhaps I needed this learning experience, to better understand the anger that people deal with in their lives. This may help me to better help some of you along the way. Right now it is telling me that I want to emphasize a few things. We need open channels of communication with our loved ones that allow us to express our emotional experience without question, even when we don't understand it. When we keep these channels open, it is easier to empathize with one another. That doesn't mean you have to agree with it! It simply means you can accept it -- acknowledge that these are feelings you could possibly feel within yourself at some time, and understand that they are simply doing the best they can to navigate it, even if that "best" doesn't seem so "right" to you. Through conversation we may arrive at ways to support one another in navigating that experience in a way that supports everyone involved. When someone doesn't know what to share and cannot express the feelings, it is important to give theme the time and space to get in touch with it for themselves. Rome wasn't built in a day, and relationships are much more intricate! Recognize that we are all human. We all make mistakes. Assume that they were actuated in some way, that they did the best they knew how at the time, even if you have no idea what brought them to that conclusion. You do not need to fully understand every line of thought to love the person as a whole. It is important to just do your best to love them anyway, (even if that takes some effort) and hope that you can come to a deeper understanding as you move through. Remember all of the things that you love about them and accept that whatever may be happening right now does not change any of it. Make a list if it helps. It is also important to be clear and open about sharing your own feelings and your own experience, whether or not they are ready to share theirs. Let them know what can be done to help repair the situation. Let them know how they can assist you in moving back to trust. Reaffirm that you are available and willing to listen whenever they are ready to talk about what they may feel or need.
If I can empathize with Judas and the Nazis, see their humanness and understand that they are just lost people like so many of us have been from time to time, and if I can empathize with all of the strangers who come and share with me through my business in the day to day, I can certainly empathize with the people in my immediate life... whether or not I know the whole story. I can choose to surrender that need to know and trust in the larger love. I am willing to find that place in myself that believes in their goodness-- that believes in the goodness in every man (even the most incredibly lost ones). And I believe in the opportunity to learn from one another how to be more supportive as we allow ourselves to grow through this. If you have these beliefs, tap into them. If your beliefs are different, that's okay. Find the ones that best support you at this point in your journey, and even if you are resisting them on some level, stay committed. It is likely just subconscious hurts or fears of the past that are creating that divide. Keep reminding yourself of your love. You will find your way through.