I definitely grew up an angry young man. I think there is a lot to be said for discourse and the creative process. But, as I got older, it got to be too much. I decided I just didn’t want to fight so much. I also did not want to give the outside so much power over how I felt. That does not mean that I do not get angry, at even the most common things; rude drivers,a messy house, inconsiderate, people the 20 extra pounds I constantly take on walks!
One of my All Time Favorite Songs !
But, deep down inside, I know, these people and circumstances, do not make me angry. No, what makes me angry is giving them control and reacting poorly. Sometimes I catch myself quickly, but other times, it takes minutes, hours or even days to chill out. As I have gotten older, I have come to believe that people and circumstances cannot hurt me. That, it is only my reaction to outside forces that form my reality. Yeah, sounds pretty woo, woo, right?
But, it turns out, in 1997, psychologist, Dr. Michael Edelstein’s released a book called Three Minute Therapy. In it, he states that external events and people cannot make us feel any one certain way, even though it canfeelthat way. He goes on to say, that many of us believe that other people and events actually cause our feelings. In reality, it is out reaction to these experiences and situations that we allow ourselves to cause ourselves. Yep, I wish I heard about his book 20 years ago, instead of struggling to seemingly figure this out on my own over the years!
Good News Everyone!!!
I think this is great news! It means, if we put in the work, then the discomfort we feel from outside influences such as situations or words hurled our way, are actually under OUR control. This means that a boss, a partner, a stranger or even an inanimate pantry door, cannot make usfeelanything. The choice to feel bad, or angry about something is completely in our hands. If that is the case, then how we deal with it, and how we come up with a solution is under our control as well.
Is this complicated? Yes and no. It depends on where you are starting from. It gets easier, but it can be a struggle at first, not to let people and circumstances run our lives. But, I would rather be empowered to change my life, than to think I am the victim.
This is not to say, that I am not without anger, or that I do not occasionally act strongly about people and things around me. Not at all. It is just that now, I know where it is coming from and I can resolve it faster.
What gets me Angry today?
Today, what usually makes me angry, is negotiating with myself; letting my subconscious talk me into and out of things. For example, justifying skipping a workout because I have work to do. Eating unhealthy food or drinks with friends, because it is easier than acknowledging my own desire to be healthier, and I don’t want to feel socially stigmatized – even though I am pretty sure that hasn’t happened in years. Not taking a chance on something because that inner voice tells me I might not succeed. Quitting before I really start.
All of these dialogues, make me angry, because even though I know I can control them – sometimes I still let them win. Marianne Williamson, mentions something in her book, A Return to Love, that I can really relate to, the “Uh, I blew it”and “Ugh, I blew it again!” Each time it happens, it angers me, but it also shocks me into seeing that I have a choice. Even if I fall off of the proverbial wagon, deep down, I know I can get back up, dust myself off and try again. THAT is how I try to live my life and deal with anger. One situation at a time.