I’ve been doing a lot of work on my interior Life lately, and here’s what I discovered about Anger.
Anger is never the first emotion we experience as a reaction to any difficult or unpleasant situation. So, in order to get to the root of our anger, we must first identify the primary (negative) emotion, and its accompanying self-belief. This does not require a lot of effort, but it does require some quiet reflection, and possibly a little time, at first.
First, we must remember that our core beliefs about ourselves are formed in childhood – starting from birth to about 7 years of age. These beliefs are the results of the emotional impact of situations that the child experiences. These core beliefs become lodged in our subconscious.. Anything the child experiences after the age of 7 will merely appear as a confirmation of these self-beliefs.
As we progress through Life, these hidden beliefs will come to form our attitude towards Life and our place in it. Our attitudes will produce our behaviour, in our dealings with ourselves and our dealings with others.
Here is an example from my own Life. When I was 6 years old, my mother gave me a serious warning: “You are responsible for the younger ones. You have to keep them safe. And you must never give them scandal, or it would be better that you have a stone tied around your neck and be thrown into the ocean.” It was certainly not her intention to frighten me or to place a burden on me. She merely wanted me to be her second set of eyes as we played outside.
That warning left a deep impression on my subconscious. The primary emotion was fear. I only learned the meaning of “scandal” when I was 11 years old. I did not know, at the age of 7, what the word ‘scandal’ meant. I assumed it was something I had, and something I should never give them. I certainly took her words seriously. The self-belief formed when I was 7, translated into: “I am totally responsible for the welfare of my siblings, or there would be dire consequences”. So my sense of responsibility was always accompanied by a sense of fear. My parents produced many siblings, therefore many burdens on my psyche.
As a result of this core self-belief, whenever I had any dealings with my siblings (even as an adult in my sixties), I would have severe anxiety and fear if I felt that their actions would not benefit them, or if their behaviour could lead to their unhappiness in any way (attitude). This resulted in my becoming an ever-relentless ‘teacher’, and a self-proclaimed saviour/fixer of all their perceived problems. In other words, I was an obnoxious ‘big sister’, as well as a constantly stressed woman.
I certainly did not enjoy Life in general, always taking things too seriously and always in the ‘fixer’ mode – always stressed (because I really couldn’t fix anything for anyone but myself).
Some time in my sixties, I did realize that the only person I could control was ME! That’s when work on myself began to take shape. I happened upon a long-standing situation that began to take its toll on me. I felt frustrated and angry almost all the time. So I began to ask myself, “What is MY role in this situation?”
It took me a couple of months to work my way backwards in order to solve my dilemma. This is how I did it. First I began daily meditation in order to get the answers to the following question.
- Q: What feelings did I have in this situation (before the frustration/anger point)? A: fear
- Q: When was the first time I felt this way (pertaining to my siblings)? A:The answer took a few days before I could recall my mother’s words when I was 7.
- This realization actually made me laugh out loud to think that I was holding on to such an idea for decades without ever trying to investigate the source. Q: What was I afraid of? A: I was afraid of not living up to my mother’s expectations of me.
- Q: Was this fear reasonable? A: Absolutely not! My mother has been dead for decades. I have never given scandal (knowingly) to anyone. My siblings are all adults, capable of making the best decisions for themselves.
The results of this process – an immediate sense of relief and even joy! I also came to see that my anger and frustration did not stem from the situation with my siblings, but from my psyche trying to protect itself from the initial fear. I also came to realize that the psyche always tries to protect itself from the negative feelings in any situation. Feelings of being dismissed (non-importance), feelings of fear of rejection, of failure, of judgment, etc. I also gained a much deeper appreciation of what makes others ‘tick’.
Now, I am able to enjoy my siblings and relax into the next step of my journey, which is to share my experience with others, in the hopes that others can learn from it, and I hope it doesn’t take until you are in your sixties to figure out what ‘care of the self’ really means.