Friday, June 21, 2013

Fear and Loathing (aka Anger Management) III

Certainly life is filled with bumpy rides, yet I don't think it is in The Plan to stay in a closet and not acknowledge the fears and thrills life has for us. Yet acknowledging that fear can really be scary, putting us in a very vulnerable place.

I had a friend who shared with me a time when his anger controlled him. He and his wife had been fighting. He got so mad, he picked up the front of his couch, ready to turn it upside down. He was facing his big living room picture window, and when he looked up, his reflection was that of an ugly mean man, and outside he saw images of monsters laughing and applauding him. He was stunned - he calls this his life-changing moment. He put down the couch and walked away. He said he knew he had a decision to make. Was he going to serve the monsters, the anger, or was he going to acknowledge the anger, work through that fear, and move forward in hope?

I think of this story often (I wish it was only occasional) when I feel anger, frustration, fear, anxiety taking over my body. Actually it's mostly when I'm frustrated, before I get angry - I find little these days that truly angers me. If I am smart, before the frustration blossoms, I think, "Whom am I serving with this feeling, and do I want 'them' to win?" My religious upbringing teaches me that anger, frustration, fear - are all emotions Satan wants us to have, that when I'm feeding these emotions - and particularly when I act on them - inflicting injury on myself and others, then I am following Satan, and he wins. And the more Satan wins, the more I become a member of his team, following Satan, not following Christ.

And you know what - fear, frustration, anger? They can steal time like nothing else. I cherish my time - I get angry when my time is abused by someone/thing else, but more often than not, I am the one who chooses to waste my time when I'm stuck with these emotions. I see it as time-vomit, all over me. Not only have I been puked on, but now I have to clean it up, and that takes time - and emotional energy - energy I could be using for hope, joy, happiness.

When my emotions take over, I try to march my rational thought into the picture, kick emotions out, and "think clearly." It's amazing how much emotional energy I give to things/people/circumstances that really do not warrant my time.

I can usually acknowledge my frustration or anger and work it backwards -  Why am I feeling this way? Where does this come from? Is this serving any legitimate value? I find the root of the issue, the "real" problem when I do this. Pema Chodron in his book, When Things Fall Apart, writes, "Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth."

Take cancer - anger, frustration, fear, anxiety are all part of the cancer package. Working it backwards - what am I afraid of? The unknown? Wasted time? Pain? Being disabled? Dying? What's the worst that can happen? Can I deal with that? Why? Why not? What can I do? Get the best doctors, gain knowledge, get support. Then move forward. BE. Trusting myself, trusting the process. Then surrender - and in surrendering, win. This too shall pass, this too shall pass.

This has gotten long, but for me it's important to put these thoughts down. I refuse to live in fear, in anger, in hatred. It steals my time, turns me into someone I don't like, and the monsters win.

So when I crashed on my bike - ahh, just minor. It's an accident, no anger lost here, in fact, I haven't smiled and laughed, with joy, like this in quite some time (except for my wild crazy post-cancer hair). I have wondered if perhaps I was taking my "get well soon," mindset a little too seriously, and this is my opportunity to lighten up. My honest sister told me, yesterday, that I was "pathetic." I am! Pathetically hilarious - worth every ounce of any shaking of my head I get, or give. Life goes on - it does.

"Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination." (Roy Goodman)

I CHOOSE HAPPINESS - how about you?

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