Spiritual Opportunities of Anger and Upset
“Anger is a signal, and one worth listening to.”
—Harriet Lerner, The Dance of Anger
Many of us believe that anger is a bad thing. We’re told various messages about the negative aspects of anger, such as:
“Let go of your anger. Just move on.”
“Your anger will only end up hurting you.”
“Anger is detrimental to your health.”
While these messages are generally true, it is not always so easy to simply “let it go.” If it were, we’d all be walking around, as enlightened and as happy as the Buddha!
However, by reframing anger and looking at it in a new way, we can see the hidden benefits of this powerful emotion and the events that trigger our own inner anger.
Let’s start with an example. Imagine you are waiting in line at the grocery store, and someone tries to cut in front of you. Immediately, you may feel that old, familiar feeling of anger rise up inside yourself. Maybe you want to yell at the person and tell him/her to go to the back of the line. Or maybe you want to push that person away. Whatever the reaction, it’s clear and simple: you feel TRIGGERED.
So what’s the benefit of being triggered, you might wonder? How can this possibly be a good thing???
Well, here it is—any time we feel triggered or upset by something that happens outside of ourselves, no matter how small the event may seem, it is simply a spiritual opportunity for us to heal an old wound that has yet to be healed.
What this means is that some time in our past, we developed some misbelief or misunderstanding about life (ex: “People always try to take advantage of me”). This belief has become so ingrained in our consciousness over the years that we actually re-create situations in our lives that reinforce this negative belief. Thus, if our misunderstanding is that people will try to take advantage of us, we will look for evidence of people doing this to us, and when it inevitably happens, we will likely feel angry and upset.
According to spiritual psychological principles, as taught by faculty at The University of Santa Monica, each time we feel triggered, we are actually being given an incredible opportunity to look inside ourselves and heal a part of ourselves that needs to be healed, once and for all. Keep in mind, we must be fully ready and willing to do the inner work necessary to heal the situation; however, once ready and willing to change, we can reframe our outdated belief system, forgive ourselves, and choose behaviors that allow for more love and joy in our lives.