My hunch is you’re on social media. I’m also willing to bet that your news feed reads like mine, a scrolling list of angry political posts. Over the past few weeks, it’s been focused on children separated from their families. Over the past few years, while the specifics may change, the focus of angry judgment and pointing fingers from both sides of the political debate has been the same.
In the words of Ekhart Tolle, “Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath.”
That pain is often fear or sadness that wants somewhere, or someone, to place blame. As humans, we don’t like to feel scared or sad. So anger is the go-to cover emotion. Right now, all that built up emotion is either directed at Trump or directed at immigrants and has turned to hatred. (Tell me where I’m wrong?)
I’m not here to argue the political points. That’s happened ad nauseam and I’m watching both sides cling more and more firmly to their opinions. That’s what happens with anger and lashing out in hatred. It’s met with the same until it builds up to an explosion where everyone loses.
Using angry words and spitting hate at the opposition has never changed anyone’s mind, it’s only solidified it.
You may remember from your human anatomy class that our brainstem and cerebellum control our body’s vital functions like heart rate, breathing and body temperature. It’s also responsible for our most primitive survival instincts like aggression and fear (aka fight or flight response), which is why scientists refer to it as the Reptilian Brain.
In today’s society, it’s fairly overactive and constantly screaming that “I don’t have enough” or “I’m under attack!”
When we believe it, we’re spun-up, emotional balls of fury lashing out. When people with similar beliefs surround us, it can become a wildfire spreading out of control.
Wildfires burn everything down; they don’t build anything up. The only result is destruction and suffering.
However, if we can feel into our bodies and recognize where that anger is stemming from, we can harness that energy in a more productive way. We can look at the fear and notice the sadness. We can allow it to come up and flow throughout our bodies — in its raw and clean form — until it dissolves.
Then we can watch the thoughts that rise up and question their truth. We can become aware of where we may be reliving our past experiences and projecting them into the future. Yes, what happened to us happened…but it’s in the past. It’s over now. Reliving it only prolongs the suffering. It only exists in our minds now.
When we can come from a place of calm acceptance that reality is what it is, then we are able to be our most innovative, problem-solving selves. We don’t have to approve or condone of it, we merely have to accept that it’s the reality right now. Rather than struggling against it, we can see clearly and calmly the action that we can take to change what is in our control…and let go of what is not.
We can ask ourselves: How can I take action in an effective way? What can I personally do that doesn’t require someone else to change who they are? Where might I be projecting onto others what I’m not willing to see in myself?
When we can see what was once our opposition in their own light and find common ground — when we can empathize and have compassion for at least some component of them — that is the place where people come together to solve problems.
Brooks Gibbs creates videosto show how to shut down a bully. What it’s really portraying is shutting down anger with peace. He’s created dozens, if not hundreds, of these from his speaker tours and every time, the result is the same.
Anger met with anger escalates. Anger met with kindness diffuses.
If we want real, transformative change, we need to stop placing blame and work together to start problem solving.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.”