Posts tagged ‘letting go’

June 4, 2012

Anger as an Entity

ImageEckart Tolle presented the very compelling metaphor of the “Pain body”. The way Eckart describes it, the “pain body” is an entity separate from us that subsists on our negative thoughts and energy.

I feel this analogy works very well in describing anger. When I get angry, I feel like there is a part of me that continues to seek justification for my anger. My anger may just start out as mild annoyance. When I am mindful of my thoughts, I realize that I can just let the issue go and move on. But, when I start to think about the cause of my annoyance, these thoughts begin to justify my annoyance. With this validated feeling of annoyance, I find myself beginning to observe more life events as potentially annoying. The more this feeling of annoyance is given sustenance; it can then grow into a feeling of general frustration. The more my frustration is fueled by my internal dialogue, that frustration can grow into anger.

For example, the other day I was biking home and a car absent mindedly pulled out from a driveway and almost hit me. The first thought I had was “okay, that person was just not paying attention”. This thought was drown out by another voice clamoring, “forget that, I was almost knocked off my bike. I could have been killed.” The rest of the way home, I focused on every event where a car was not considering bike safety. By the time I got home, I had a general feeling of “poopy-ness.”

Our tendency to become angry is greatly influenced by a thought and physiological response feedback loop.  When we experience a perceived threat, our body is flooded with stress hormones priming us for that edgy feeling. Since we feel the physiological response to stress / anger, we begin to composes a story of what is going on that is consistent with our stressful feeling. Since our stress chemistry typically lasts longer than the stress event, we have a moment where there is a potential inconsistency between our thoughts and our feelings. If we are mindful and are well practiced at observing our thoughts, we can more towards letting it go. However, there is a chance that we will continue to compose an internal story to explain the remaining stress chemistry. Since our thoughts have the power to trigger a stress response, we can be stuck in a stress/anger cycle.

If you find yourself repeatedly becoming annoyed, frustrated or angry, remember that you can take a moment and reflect on your thoughts. You have the power to thing of something different. Stop feeding the anger within.