When shit happens and things go wrong, two characters often step into my brain, duking it out over how to respond.
“GD#*F!Soa%B,” the first one swears angrily. “The jar fell and broke and now there’s rice everywhere.” Grumble; stomp. In cartoon-land, this one is red and wearing devil-horns.
The other one—wearing a white, billowy gown with wings—instantly appears, chirping, “Yes! But, good news! No one got hurt! Be grateful for that! Let’s find the silver lining! There’s always a silver lining!”
Above these two characters sits The Judge, permanently installed, ready to opine on the “right” way to respond when life happens. And in this Judge’s courtroom—the courtroom of my mind, my inner landscape—the “devil response,” even in thoughts, is not permitted; that response is a clear violation of the code of human behavior.
Angel-wing response: that’s the goal.
“A good person doesn’t get angry,” the Judge pronounces.
I’ve listened to the Judge for years. And I’ve believed her; accepted her rulings: to feel anger is to be bad. Out of that belief, I’ve travelled a road that has tried to eradicate the “bad” response. I’ve read self-help books, gone to therapy, attended spiritual services. All with the idea of eliminating feelings of anger.
How am I doing with that? Hah! Feelings and thoughts are often out of my direct control.
Three years ago, I started meditating. Out of the meditation lessons a new idea emerged: acceptance. Acceptance of the feelings and thoughts, all of them—dark and light—without judgment.
Acceptance. Not elimination.
The invitation to accept anger is giving me an opportunity to stop resisting it. When I don’t resist it, I can try and simply experience it; as a feeling. A feeling I may note as unpleasant, but just a feeling. I feel anger. I get angry. I try and note it and use that awareness to not act upon it in a harmful way.
To be able to accept feeling anger without denouncing myself as bad is a lovely, gentle stance.
It’s an approach that’s helping to quiet The Judge. I like that silver lining.