If you practice the kind of patience that leads to the de-escalation of aggression and the cessation of suffering you will be cultivating enormous courage. You will really get to know anger and how it breeds violent words and actions. You will see the whole thing without acting it out. When you practice patience, you’re not repressing anger, you’re just sitting there with it—going cold turkey with the aggression. As a result, you really get to know the energy of anger and you also get to know where it leads, even without going there.
In my various trainings I’ve seen anger dealt with in a variety of ways and I am increasingly drawn to this mindful approach. I connect it with what I wrote the other day about mindful learning – in particular noting how we can benefit from revisiting the automatic programmes we’ve created in our lives for responding to certain situations.
I think we humans often fail to notice the short cuts we create in our thinking. These can be incredibly useful at times and destructive at others. Sometimes we act so quickly on anger that we don’t create the reflective space that might offer a wiser path. In recent months I have been practicing the advice embodied in the Sedona Method, and I am often astonished at what happens when instead of acting on a feeling (either literally, or in my imagination) I instead choose to simply allow it (or even, as per Sedona, to welcome it). Though counter-intuitive, this approach can be powerful. What I often find is that uncomfortable feelings like anger and anxiety, if fully witnessed in this way, seem to change to a sense of energy without the angry or anxious edge. We often act (desperately) in response to anger and anxiety in the hope of regaining our power; I increasingly find that not acting, but instead fully experiencing can lead to a more satisfying sense of empowerment. I think that is the phenomenon that Chris is picking up on, though he describes it differently. And I really liked his comment:
If you think anger is wrong, you won’t be able to be a peacemaker. If you think anger is true, you can go there.