Emotions

Once I realized that my anger was a feeling of pain I could start to see it was the way that I called out for love, for connection, for validation.

Some people choose to explore their humanity through history, others through religion, and others through every other variation and aspect of life and being human. Many make a lifelong journey of it and call it a path, this has some spiritual connotation to it, but it could be psychology or philosophy or art or anything else too. I tended to hang out in spiritual groups, so I usually think of it as spiritual. But it does not matter what you call it; if you are an explorer, you know it.

One thing that is common in spiritual teachings is the idea of detachment, not actually detachment per se but more about a lack of attachment, this is an important distinction. The reason it is an important distinction is that detachment points to a lack of care and awareness whereas the ability to lack attachment points to something else. What that something else might be was a very frustrating part of my path, especially when it came to emotions.

For a long time, I thought it meant that I could achieve a state of mind void of anger and pain. But I never could reach that state, and I doubt anyone that chooses to keep an open and loving heart ever can. I tried out many different versions of what I believed, or thought should be my feelings, but that never seemed to work out very well. Like most things, practice is the key to success. Let me share how my learning progressed to illustrate this more clearly.

Anger is a big one for me, I was probably not born angry, but I developed into a person where anger was my go to emotion. Many schools of thought taught me many things about anger and the most important was to accept it and look at it, then to allow it to be released so that it did not fester or abscess in my body and soul. Release and acceptance helped a lot but did not void me of anger. However, through this work of release and acceptance, I eventually realized that underneath the anger was a deeper feeling of pain.

Mostly the pain was about not being loved in the way I wanted to be loved, or not feeling treated in the way I thought I should be, especially with those closest to me. Ultimately I could see this connected back to my childhood where I had not been treated and cared for according to my needs. And my needs are great. I happen to be a sensitive and needy person, so I require lots of attention and validation. Otherwise, I feel insecure and unsafe and unloved, then I get angry, this is a critical connection and knowing it allowed me to recognize my anger for what it was, a signal of my deeper pain.

Once I realized that my anger was a feeling of pain I could start to see it was the way that I called out for love, for connection, for validation. Anger is not a very effective way of getting that love and connection and realizing my anger pointed to a deeper pain did not allow me to get out of the way of the uncontrolled emotions or stem my anger. My anger was still in control.

Perseverance paid off, and eventually, I realized that I also felt that the person or thing that triggered my anger and pain had to pay for it! Retribution was owed to me. Letting go of this need for revenge required forgiveness and compassion. Significant progress but there was more work to be done.

Eventually, I found a deep feeling that my life was unfair, that I was a victim of the world, of God’s ways, of love and everything else. That God and love and life had caused me so much pain and I was angry at them and all they had created. I had a lot of work ahead of me.

As I continued to work through more feelings I became more able to adjust my ideas and judgments about how the world, love, and God should be, in other words, I acquired a greater acceptance of things as they were. By learning this type of acceptance, I could still get angry but had a new perspective that allowed me to make much better choices about how I expressed my anger. Through acceptance, I was more able to forgive and to have compassion for others.

I still get angry but now understand that it is pointing me to pain, which allows me to feel that pain. I still do not like feeling pain but now know that it is leading me to greater love and giving me the opportunity to expand love through greater acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness. I still want retribution from time to time but now understand that this is the deep pain of being human and that I can choose to feel that pain and express even more love.

The differences are subtle, but the outcome is extreme. All emotions are love and once you feel that way honestly, and can see how it is true; then all actions can be loving even while any emotion is present. Practice makes perfect, and the practice never ends.

One day after being mad at my wife and getting triggered by the annoying (at the time) phrase “Be Here Now,” I wrote this poem. Perhaps you will get a kick out of it.

Be Here Now

I feel bored.
I am still here; it is still now.

I am tired.
I am still here; it is still now.

My stomach hurts.
I am still here; it is still now.

I am in love.
I am still here; it is still now.

I am confused.
I am still here; it is still now.

A friend offers advice.
I am still here; it is still now.

My wife and I fight.
I am still here; it is still now.

I dream of making money, and then I do.
I am still here; it is still now.

I want a family and then it is there.
I am still here; it is still now.

My spiritual path flourishes. I begin to think of all things as I do myself.
I am still here; it is still now.

I meet God. I find connection. I am in ecstasy.
I am still here; it is still now.

I miss God. I find connection. I am in pain.
I am still here; it is still now.

I know it all. Soon I know nothing.
I am still here; it is still now.

I have no purpose. I am confused. I disappear.
I am still here; it is still now.

I am restless and distract with fantasies of love, and lust, and wealth.
I am still here; it is still now.

My spiritual path has ended, there is no more for me to do.
I am still here; it is still now.

I find my humility, become more loving.
I am still here; it is still now.

I am loving. That is all that is left, all I know.
I am still here; it is still now.

I come to peace that God cannot be known. Life is a mystery.
I am still here; it is still now.

I am bored. A friend sends me advice again. I listen. I go to connection.
I am still here; it is still now.

I realize the mind always beats, trust only my heart.
I am still here; it is still now.

I doze a little, dream a little, delight in emotions a little.
I am still here; it is still now.

I wake and realize emotions are not of the heart; they are of the mind.
I am still here; it is still now.

I see now that love has deeper meaning, deeper than the emotions. That connection is everything.
I am still here; it is still now.

I wake up more. I go to my connection.
I am still here; it is still now.
But there is peace; there is calm.