This post originally appeared November 2010, when I was exposed to some very raw, hostility directed straight at me. It startled me then. Left me uncertain and even frightened. Until I remembered who I was — again. Until I remembered how I choose to live in this world. Once I reconnected with that, I felt compassion and greater peace. Because, no matter how anyone else behaves, no matter how violating and heinous and painful, I get to decide how I will live. There are many times in life, when we must remember the choice we make. Reconnect with who we are. When we must stake it out, and consciously head that way no matter how hard it feels. In this post, I talk about one of those times. I’m thinking about it again this week and again, I will make the same choice. To come at it from kindness and compassion and love. It just makes me feel better, when not much else does right now.
A couple of weeks ago, I stood on the edge of someone else’s anger. Rage really. And for a second it threatened to pull me in, sucking me under until I matched the rage and responded with my own threats and lies and irrationality and immaturity and hurt.
Hostility can be like that. It can suck you in until your heart and guts and brains are churning and twisting on fire with anger that by that time seems totally appropriate and justified right then, but never, ever is.
And, while there might be a quickie adrenaline rush when you attempt to burn down the emotional houses of those around you, hostility will actually kill you. Long before your body dies, it destroys all but a tiny spark of who you really are. Instead, you become the anger itself.
Fortunately, I was able to counteract that anger around me, deflect it just in time. Right before I stepped in and lowered myself into hostility I stopped and sent love instead. It took a huge effort, and I mean HUGE because I wasn’t feeling very loving. I was feeling attacked, defensive, angry. I was feeling like I wanted to put my hands around his neck and shake. But, when I decided (and it was a decision) to consciously shift to a more positive emotion, compassion took over lightening fast. In other words, the strategies we talk about here, worked.
Don’t get me wrong. There was no blissful happiness. No angels singing in the background. Certainly no harp music. What there was, was a little more peace then there had been a moment earlier. And from that place I could observe and feel the anger I was experiencing without being sucked down by it.
I went from anger to compassion to sadness for the person who was so mad at me. After all, to live from a place of such hostility, one supported by irrational beliefs and a soul-level loneliness, must be tough. Rage hides that below mountains of pain and insecurity and hurt. Rage hides within the I’m-not-enough belief system. Truth is everyone at their core is worthy and lovable. If you can’t see it just now, it’s probably covered by your anger and hurt.
Pay attention to the anger you feel. Observe it. And then go deeper into what lies below. Just identifying what’s behind this big emotion will help you manage the rage and enter into a world of self understanding and growth.
So which direction will you go: to the illuminated world of peace and happiness and kindness and love – even when you’re exposed to the darkness? Or will you live in the darkness? Whichever you choose, you’ll find more of the same.
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