Our negative emotions are not bull shit. They are our internal guidance, informing us where our consciousness is so we can understand the hurt, pain or sadness beneath them. If we shove them away instead of processing them, they will go deeper into the subconscious mind and become blind spots to haunt us at inopportune moments and we won’t even know why life feels so miserable despite all the positive thinking and bullying ourselves into the light! In short, they will become our shadows. Escaping, bypassing or avoiding any parts of ourselves is no short cut to self-realization! To understand this better read my article: understanding negativity & its purpose. You can’t just ignore the elephant in the room, can you?
There is a general belief that anger, fear and other negative emotions are somehow bad or wrong and everybody is trying to escape them. Especially people on the spiritual path who are into self-improvement go right into loving kindness, which is actually a spiritual bypass. Instead of feeling the anger, they go to love directly. One has to feel the anger first before loving the enemy; it is healthy anger. Because if we bypass that discomfort of anger, what our bodies will do is produce too much beta endorphin which is a natural morphine, a numbing like substance that increases the risk for diseases like diabetes. That is why according to Dr. Mario Martinez, renowned lecturer and author of the Mind-Body Code, many Tibetan monks have diabetes because they literally go right into “forgive everybody as they know not what they are doing” without processing or feeling their anger. Our immune systems cannot be tricked or fooled. Positive thinking or loving kindness may happen at an intellectual level, but unless we embody them, their good effects on our lives are minimal. And the embodiment can only happen after the anger and hurt has been processed by the body. If you are telling yourself, “okay he’s my enemy and I forgive him”, your body goes, yeah right! You can’t trick your immune system. You can’t just say, “I don’t want to feel anger anymore”, and expect it to go away without any repercussions. You end up repressing those feelings, and as you do, your body reacts by releasing endorphins. When that happens on a chronic basis i.e. your body is high on endorphins, it affects glucose metabolism. Your glucose levels go up and insulin goes down and you develop Type 2 Diabetes. Hence, repression or suppression is not the answer. People with diabetes are repressive of their anger usually, existing in a perpetual joyless state. To treat diabetes is to deal with the anger. It doesn’t have to be violent outbursts, which also increases the risk of heart attacks. It can be a gentle feeling and processing, and even sharing with a willing companion in order to liberate them consciously from the mind and the body. You have to embody the feelings, not just intellectualize them to reap their benefits.
Studies show that emotions affect our immune systems more powerfully than genetics, which Dr. Martinez affirms. And our emotions are largely defined by the culture we are in. Hence, culture is more powerful than genes. Our cultures dictate what is acceptable and what is not, what we are allowed to express and what we aren’t. And different cultures across the word have different ways of defining that. It is no different in the spiritual community. Spirituality is also based on culture. That is why spiritual principles and practises across the world vary so much. Western spirituality is very different from Eastern philosophies. While the Buddhist monks have a lot to teach the western world, they also have a lot to learn from the west. A marriage between these varying cultures and ways of life, could in fact reduce the inner and outer conflicts among people and the world at large. Cultural conditioning has huge influence on our behavior.
Usually people who are causing another hurt or pain know what they are doing, because it is working for them; that is why they do not want to change their ways. So forgiving them prematurely without processing the anger first is detrimental to you. This is especially true in case of abusive relationships; they don’t need your kindness. In fact, your kindness begets the abuse. Rather be kind to yourself and leave if possible. Because when you are not kind to yourself, nobody else will. Later you can forgive them in your heart and wish them well, when you are safe. But you need the anger to inspire action in the first place. Mostly people who take to the spiritual path are those in immense pain and suffering. They are constantly looking for a better way and in that state of powerlessness, tend to buy anything that promises nirvana! They join these spiritual organisations where most of the time instead of teaching people self-acceptance, they are taught self-rejection. They start these spiritual practises hoping for ways of self-improvement, but sometimes those methods are counterproductive as they are, in fact, forms of self-abandonment. That is the root of all problems. Because as much as positive thinking works, but when used positivity to escape our wounds or subconscious trauma, it is more detrimental than beneficial. Anger is a reaction. When you see someone being violated or getting abused, it makes you angry. It is like a self-protective instinct, as that virtuous anger will make you take action perhaps, which will eventually lead to a better feeling, like love, joy, peace, kindness and thereby good health. The immune system knows if we are really being loving, forgiving, caring or not! And before we can give those things to others, we must give them to ourselves.
Anger is a cover emotion for a lot of other layers of underlying emotions like disappointment, hurt, sadness and ultimately a feeling of powerlessness or not being good enough, worthlessness. Sometimes these emotions are deep rooted in our childhood experiences and traumatic encounters which don’t just go away with positive thinking. Because we are not even aware they exist, buried deep within the subconscious they impact our everyday life negatively. The subconscious mind is 30,000 times more powerful than the conscious mind. Therefore, a conscious positive thought can easily be outweighed by years of subconscious negative programming and dysfunctional beliefs we are holding within, unaware. And because it hurts to feel those uncomfortable emotions, it comes across as anger. Anger is higher up the echelon than those underlying emotions, meaning, it has a higher vibration than feelings of despondency, for example. Because anger somehow makes you feel in control, like you can change the unwanted circumstances. It is the first step toward action. As long as you are feeling powerless or helpless, you are operating from a victim mindset. From that space positive change or affirmations are impossible as any attempts of escaping the self comes across as resistance to the self. And what we resist, persists! Hence a feeling of despondency or desperation is a feeling of hopelessness, of victimhood and from that space action cannot be inspired. Until the vibration rises from that powerless state, which will probably be anger first before it moves on to higher vibrations of love, peace, forgiveness etc. In a way it is a form of self-acceptance where we feel the negative emotions first, bring them to our awareness, process them, understand what they are informing us about us, then gently release them before climbing the ladder to other emotions of higher vibrations. Sometimes we need to feel it to let it go; else it festers and can come out as passive-aggressive behavior.
We have to understand where the anger is coming from, which part of ourselves is hurting that we feel like we want to hurt back, then go in there, in our minds and cradle the self, be unconditionally present with ourselves. It is a form of self-soothing. Everything works according to the Law of Attraction which essentially states that like attracts like. Hence, if we abandon ourselves during our own most difficult times, then we will be abandoned by life.
The demons living within us are angels in disguise. We just have to recognize and release them, so they can spread wings and fly! ~Baisakhi Saha