Reflections on Healing Anger by Elsa Joy Bailey

There are moments in this life when we find ourselves just plain mad.

Something happens that seems unjust, or cruel, or unreasonable, and whatever it is has impacted us or someone we care about. The thing makes us angry, no question about it.

The question is, what do we do with that angry feeling? Is it possible to accept it in without causing damage?

It’s possible. Actually, it’s more than possible: it’s smart.

Just like all the other visitors that stop by our home to say hello, anger is a temporary caller. Most of us have no problem accepting visitors as they are; manners and affection have taught us to pay kind attention to them during their stay. We welcome them in, take their coat, show them to a chair.

What we don’t do, of course, is hand over our keys to them and tell them they can have the run of the place. We listen to them, feed them snacks, extend them hospitality. We spend our moments with them and then send them on their way.

So this is precisely the way to deal with any uncomfortable visitors that stop by our mind for a brief while. Irritation, anger, impatience, resentment — you know their names. They’ve all come to raise hell, and if we are smart, we will bring them in, sit them down and listen quietly to their story. We may even comfort them: “Sure, I can see why you’re feeling that.” Because we are generous hosts, we give them a chance to breathe and feel acknowledged. Then we send them on their way — because they don’t, after all, live in our home. They’re only visiting.

If, on the other hand, we haven’t yet learned that anger is merely a wave of energy — one that will pass– we may sometimes confuse our feelings for our identity. If we think the anger is who we are, it is inevitable that we will step into it full force. It is this kind of mis-identity which can do harm. If, after all, I have become the anger that is visiting me, there are all kinds of havoc I may cause — without noticing that I have handed over the contents of my mind to a distraught and temporary caller.

So the secret of dealing with anger is to receive it without judgment: to neither resist it, or give it ownership of my house. Anger, as all of us know, is a very powerful energy: very persuasive and very contagious.

What I do when heat catches hold of my consciousness is to step out of its noose as soon as I notice it, and invite it to sit down with me for a cup of tea. Deep breath, deep breath, and then I just listen. I let it know I understand why it is there. I even tell it to take its time; hang around as long as it needs to hang around. But in the process of this acceptance, I am becoming free. I am becoming the host, not the victim, of my visitor. And when I am safely out of its fiery clutch, I take steps to address its complaint in a neutral way.

Does this sound like it’s too much work?

Perhaps you think it is. Once upon a time, so did I. We all have. For now, I prefer to remain in charge of the house, and keep anger in the role of temporary guest. I honor it, I give it the gift of quiet attention, I may even surround it with Love. But I never, ever let it near the breakable dishes.