Anger comes to show us what we're not willing to accept.
Why are we not willing to accept something? We don't want there to be pain in the world, either in ourselves or in others. And why do people suffer in the first place? Because they have been taught to resist pain.
This resistance to pain begins when we are infants. Our cries are soothed away at all costs from our caretaker's fear of not providing the loving support we need to feel safe and nurtured. Or perhaps our caretaker was unable to care for us and we did experience feelings of neglect and abandonment. Both scenarios contribute to us developing a limited capacity to feel pain and let it be nothing more than a momentary part of life.
The inescapable truth is that pain exists, no matter how much we resist or avoid it. And the only real solution is to learn to accept it.
I believe that if we didn't have anger, or discontent in its subtlest form, that we would have little reason to be alive. The key is to find a balance between anger being a motivating force in our lives and a destructive habit. This must start with us letting anger be okay. We don't need to run from our anger or fix it. If we place it in a category with all accepted emotions, we disarm it. Mindfulness helps us do this by cultivating an attitude of non-resistance to what we are feeling.
Actions have consequences, and the consequences of destructive anger can be painful. Accepting pain can be such an immense undertaking that it seems unreasonable. What alternative do we really have, though, that will not create more suffering? There is a wise adage that says, "What we resist, persists."
Practicing an acceptance of pain is like developing a new muscle for many of us. It is the opposite from what we have learned, and we might not even be able to wrap our heads around what this looks like in a way that supports our well-being.
If you are on a spiritual path in life, or committed to self-improvement, it was probably your anger that moved you there. So welcome your anger as a motivating force for change, and if you want to find peace, make this change be the practice of accepting pain.
Written by Kristin Stoddart, MLL Teacher