If you desire peace within yourself and your world, is it okay to feel anger? This past week, a former colleague was punched by a student. It was not the first time. In fact, it is becoming more common for an elementary public school teacher to be physically assaulted by a student. In the media, sadly, we often hear about guns and knives. Yet, what about the hands and what about the teachers? Hands are our very gateway in to everyday life. Hands can heal, help and love. Hands can also hurt.
Anger. I must confess that I have judged this emotion. How can anger be healthy? One could really be angry at an education system that is unable to support students and therefore puts teachers’ physical/mental health at risk; yet, doesn’t this mindset make my dear colleague a victim of the rhetoric of bureaucracy? Using another example, if I am angry at the truck driver who mindlessly plowed into my Honda Civic, doesn’t that make me a victim of my accident? Who wants to be a victim pointing fingers at the external world shouting “YOU did this to ME!!”? This is the language of victimhood. No matter the circumstance, I want the language of empowerment!
This past week, my desire for the language of empowerment was greatly challenged by an unexpected surge of anger running through my veins. What was going on with me? Not being an angry person in general, I did not know how to “handle” it. I needed to consult my psychologist for assistance.
Have you ever noticed that “life” has a great sense of humour and gives you exactly what you need at the exact time, even though, at the moment, you are thinking that this is not, not, not what you need? Feeling like you need a particular experience like you need a hole in your head? Well, last Tuesday, on the way to my psychologist appointment to specifically address my anger issues, I saw someone I hadn’t seen for a few years. Someone who I was still angry with. I depended upon this professional person to guide me through post-accident life; it turned out that she was not trustworthy. I realized that underneath all of the anger was a lot of hurt. My trust had been betrayed.
Now Toronto is such a big place to randomly run in to one person. While some people may label this as a coincidence, I call it synchronicity. For me, being forced to share the sidewalk with her was a “reinforcing nudge” to explore my own anger and even to cultivate forgiveness (not for her but for my own health and well-being). Or perhaps this experience was to remind me, through contrast, of all the spectacular trustworthy people who are steadfastly surrounding me, encouraging me and uplifting me.
The aftermath of my accident continues to be the greatest educational experience of my existence. I am learning many, many valuable life lessons. My psychologist is an important resource in my journey in recovering from trauma. In regards to anger, she reinforced that feelings are neither good or bad until we judge them. You know that you are judging your feelings if you say to yourself, ” I shouldn’t feel ____________”. Consciously “making space” for anger is psychologically healthier than the subconscious stuff lurking below the surface. So, dear friends, as always, it is the judgement that get us into trouble. It’s okay to be angry. Even more, it’s okay to be angry that you’re angry. As the beginning of EFT therapy goes, “Even though I feel angry about _________, I deeply love and accept myself.”
Where there is gentle acknowledgement of anger, there is peace. Conscious awareness of your diverse feelings is like the rainbow, the burst of colour that has been ushered in by the aftermath of a turbulent storm.
Just for the moment, I am well with the anger.
Picture & Artwork Credits: Thank you to Gordon B and Lisa Sharpe.