The other day I had spent several hours dealing with some very difficult people, and made the comment on Twitter: "I meditate. I do yoga. I study peaceful teachings. Sometimes, though, I just need to smack the stupid. #moremargaritathanzen"
Shortly after, I received a couple of comments and DM's that were pretty much some variation of "Turn the other cheek!", "Suffer fools gladly, for they know not what they do", etc.
Yeah, I subscribe to the philosophy of "Do no harm, but take no shit." Sometimes, I'm gonna be pissed off about something, and I'm not ashamed of it. Especially when, in this case, the something I'm ticked off about happened to be too many armchair warriors trying to tell me what REALLY happened here in the Boston area last week, from their safe vantage points in other states and vomiting their little dystopian conspiracy theories at me. At that point in time, it's like telling the kid being kicked in the playground to "Just ignore the bullies, they'll go away". Um, no. I refuse to be bullied and insulted, and no, I don't have to take it.
Yes. I meditate. Yes, I practice mindfulness. Yes, I am planning to teach classes on these two things in the very near future. Yes, I get angry. I get downright flaming bullshit. I can go from zero to bitch in the blink of an eye, and right back again. I can be also be happy/sad/glad/depressed/livid/ecstatic/blah/scared and any other emotion you care to name. Know what? This is okay. Why?
Here's the deal. Anger is not a bad thing.
Anger is only one of the many emotions that make us human. In and of itself, it is neither good nor bad*. It just is. Fire, for example, is not bad in and of itself. Used properly, it keeps us warm and dry. Out of control? It consumes and burns everything it touches. Like with anything, the problems come in how we treat it.
When it controls us or we use it to hurt others? Then it is bad. When it is a constant fixture in our lives, and we're only ever angry? Then it is bad. When we ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist, or use it as a weapon to beat ourselves up with because "you're not supposed to be angry ever", then it is bad.
Seriously, we need to get over this whole "Negativity/Positivity" bullshit, because we've got this warped idea that "Things What Make Us Happy Are Positive And Therefore Good" and "Things What We Don't Like Are Negative And Therefore Bad". It's so incredibly damaging, because we aren't perfect, and spend so much time beating ourselves and each other up over little things because we have decided they are Bad and therefore WE are Bad because we're not perfect. I'll be honest, that shit annoys me endlessly. What is important is how we relate and react to things.
Anger, when controlled, can drive us to do great things. Anger transformed into determination can help us climb mountains, run marathons, leave dead end jobs that destroy our spirits and build a life that make us happy. The little angers, annoyance and frustration, can be signs from ourselves that we need to take a moment and step away to regroup; Are we too tired? Are we hungry? Are we being pulled in too many directions? Are we doing something that is not right for us? Are we just cranky and need to remove ourselves from a situation and breathe for moment.
I do not allow my anger to rule me. I get angry, I acknowledge the anger, I determine if it is an anger I can use to fuel something good, if there's something underlying going on, or if it's an anger that I just need to let run it's course and move on. Then I take steps to deal with that anger in the appropriately constructive manner. Sometimes that manner is to make a snippy comment in a safe place or write a post about dealing with anger and why it's okay to get mad sometimes.
First thing's first, though. In order to identify the source, one must first stop and breathe. (Are we noticing a trend with this breathing thing?)
The next time you find yourself getting angry, take a moment to pause and take 3 deep breaths. This actually acts as a kind of mental reset button, and will allow you a critical moment to assess. The great thing about this is that the more you practice focusing on your breathing, the more you train your body's mental pathways to respond with the desired result: in this case, a calmer frame of mind.
Once you have paused, you can determine why you are angry and what you can do about it. From there, you can determine next steps.
Even if the next step is to realize you're not fit for human consumption that day, and hide in a cave until you can be civilized. If you do? That's okay. (If you can't hide in the Blanket Fort Of Solitude due to things like work or whatnot, even just taking a 5 minute walk can do wonders for your temper.)
I know, so simple, yet so bloody hard when you just want to smack someone with a bag of hammers. ;)
The important thing to remember is that getting angry? It's okay. You're not a terrible human who will never achieve enlightenment or whatever it is you're aiming for because you had a bad day or you've got a low blood sugar and need to go have a snack. What you'll be is 100% Human, and humans have lots of emotions. It's something we're exceptionally good at. As a matter of fact, by not beating yourself up for getting mad, you'll already be ahead of the curve.
Just remember, if you do slip and it gets out of your control and you burn someone else with it, apologize and use the subsequent embarrassment to fuel your determination to do better next time.
To the folks who tell others it's not okay to be angry? Seriously? Do you have ANY idea how condescending and irritating that is? Please, don't invalidate and belittle other people's feelings and emotions by telling them it's wrong to have them. It's a passive-aggressive form of bullying. Just... don't. Okay?
So there. Some days you are all Zen and chill, and some days you just need to know when it's time to give up and have a margarita. Both of these are perfectly acceptable, in moderation.
Now, where did I leave that margarita?
*Obligatory CYA Disclaimer: Obviously, it should go without saying that there can be medical conditions or psychological issues that need to be addressed by a trained health professional, of a variety that I am not. If this is the case, please seek out professional assistance.