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, some through religion or spirituality. Many make a lifelong journey of it and call it a path, which has a 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, so I kept on trying and eventually got somewhere. Let me share how my learning progressed.

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 a lot about anger. The most important idea I adopted was to accept my anger, to face it and safely feel it fully, and then to release it. 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.

Safely feeling my anger gave me the awareness to realize my anger was a reaction to feeling pain. The pain I felt was caused by not feeling loved in the way I wanted to be loved or treated the way I wanted to be treated. Knowing my anger was a call for love pointed me in the right direction, but it did not keep me from losing my temper. My anger was still in control.

The next step was forgiveness. I felt that the person or thing that triggered my anger and pain had to pay for it. I wanted revenge. I wanted someone or something to pay for causing me to be angry. Letting go of the need for revenge requires forgiveness and compassion. It is hard to forgive, but very rewarding. But I still felt angry. There was more work to be done.

Deeper down I felt that my life was unfair, that I was a victim of the world and love and everything else. I felt life was unfair and the cause of my pain and suffering. The whole setup was wrong and cruel. I needed to find acceptance. Acceptance is different than forgiveness in that it requires humility. The humility to accept we are not in control and do not know why things are the way they are. The humility to allow things to be the way they are, as opposed to trying to change them. By adopting this type of acceptance, I became more compassionate, and it was easier for me to forgive others and make better choices about how I expressed my anger.

All emotions are love. Once you feel that way and can see how it is true, every action can be loving despite whatever emotion you are feeling. But all of this takes a conscious decision and some work. One day after being mad at my wife and getting triggered by the annoying phrase that kept running through my head “Be Here Now,” I wrote this poem. Perhaps you will get a kick out of it.

Be Here 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.

I want a family and then it is there.
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.

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

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

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

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

I meet God.
I am still here; it is still now.

I miss God. I no longer believe.
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 still here; it is still now.

I become a drug addict.
I am still here; it is still now.

I lose faith.
I am still here; it is still now.

I find humility.
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 delight in my emotions.
I am still here; it is still now.

I see love’s truth.
I am still here; it is still now.

I love. I connect.
I am still here; it is still now.
But there is peace; there is calm.