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I find it amusing that very often when I'm scheduled to do a radio show or present a lecture I'm speaking on a subject matter that reflects a lesson I need reminded of. Today's show is no exception. I'm one who is slow to anger and quick to forgive. However, occasionally I find myself trapped in a quicksand of ire that threatens my well-being. Such is my current state of affairs. For nearly two decades I've dealt with a very spiteful, jealous, and hurtful family member. Coming to terms with my initial pain (a root cause of anger) took some time but eventually I was able to reconcile within myself and allow the situation to be what it is. Among my early morning prayers is one for this individual's emotional and spiritual healing that is causing them to behave inappropriately.
In recent years, however, the situation has escalated,. Although it does not directly involve me, it is affecting another family member whom I care very deeply for. The issue is serious and I am without recourse to prevent further damage. The energy I've expended trying to accept this is beginning to wear thin and I find myself seriously agitated over this matter. Intellectually I know that on every level I must let go of my anger. I also know exactly what steps to take and yet I am reluctant to do so. I'll admit that a part of me feels that as long as I continue to verbalize my incense that somehow those with authority will facilitate the change I am seeking. (I do not posses that ability.) Still, things remain status quo and I find myself at a crossroad of choosing whether to relinquish my anger or not. Should I choose to move beyond the anger and restore my sense of well-being these are the steps I can:
1. Since my anger is generated by my thought process, I can distract myself by replacing anger-provoking thoughts with those that are positive or neutral. I can focus on planning an upcoming event, deciding what my next work-related project is going to be, or simply gazing out my window at the freshly fallen snow.
2. Understanding that no one can make me angry but myself, I take responsibility for my anger and how long I choose to entertain it, how I express it, and when I decide to let it go.
3. I can apply understanding and compassion to this party's deeply rooted issues. Rather than label or judge, I can be sympathetic to the challenges they're facing.
4. Self talk, my internal dialogue, determines my feelings. I can reflect back to a time when this person was at their best and consider their positive attributes. This enables me to restore affirmative emotions.
5. If I choose to be angry, I can channel it into something constructive - either making the changes I am seeking, creating good come from this situation, or finding a means to prevent it from occurring again or with another individual.
6. I can put the situation into perspective. Is it worth relinquishing my inner peace and serenity for? Is it wise to allocate precious time and energy to that could be utilized for something more productive? Consider alternative options.
7. Pray. Read Scripture. Repeat affirmations. They work.
8. Remind myself of a time when my behavior was less than stellar. Remember, everyone is on their own personal journey and poor choices are a natural part of the process of spiritual evolution.
There are many factors that determine if and when we choose to stop being angry: the other person's acknowledgement of their wrong-doing, the cessation of the infractions, our commitment and relationship to the party in mention are just a few. Regardless, the choice and power is ours. I need to remind myself that I have no right to interfere with the natural order of things nor the right of each individual to make their own personal choices in life regardless of my approval or disapproval of. Likewise, this situation presents a unique opportunity for me to examine my personal issues that cause this to be a problem for me (since problems only exist in the mind). Perhaps the Universe in all its wisdom is presenting me with a glorious gift of growth. I am free to choose appreciation over anger and do the work on myself that is so desperately needed. In the end, I emerge victorious as God intended. I must trust in my Heavenly Father that all is exactly as it is meant to be for the higher good. Only then will I find peace.
Ephesians 4:26 "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry."
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