So you’re furious, I mean you’re really pissed… Now what? Come with me to the dungeon of your mind where you find yourself absolutely livid, so full of rage you’re ready to explode and take everyone with you. Basically you’re Taliban, wearing an emotional suicide vest.
The Dawn of Madness
In this downward vortex you feel like you literally do not care about anything, like you want to annihilate everyone in your path, it’s as if tomorrow does not exist, nothing else matters, you just want to destroy your relationship, shatter things to pieces, you want it to be over with right now, right here. You feel violent madness rushing up your veins and it all feels super real, more real than ever, more real than anything else, it’s as if you’re in a trance, clenching to a profound sense of righteousness, burning to restore your honor. Like a spider you want to catch that elusive fly and suck its blood. And after you have drained every drop of it you’ll have your sense of easiness again, that revitalizing oceanfront breath of fresh air.
Tiny Moment with Immense Power to Direct Your Sails of Faith
Except, within that storm of delusion, there is a millisecond moment of lucidity. Someone is trying to spoil your plans of falling into the abyss of obliteration and remind you that you are about to make one of the biggest mistakes of your life… It’s that tiny, drowned out voice inside your heart, that is trying to say, “What you really need right now is for someone to snap their cold, dry fingers right in between your two bloodshot eyes and pour a cold bucket of reality, fast.”
Nothing is Better Than Something
We all know that the moment of aggression obscures any sense of objectivity, clarity, or lucidity of the situation. Aggression makes you want to attack first and ask questions later. As Americans say, “Kick ass and take no names.”
Train yourself to recognize this moment. Use the technique below to gain a second of clarity, acknowledge you’re raging and then do something extremely important – NOTHING. That’s right. Don’t talk, don’t act, don’t make any decisions because nothing is much better than something when you’re violent.
–Nothing– buys you time and gives you a chance to risk a small mistake instead of a huge one. – Nothing– flexes your patience muscle, but most importantly -Nothing- gives you a chance to surrender your aggression.
Once, a fascinating and flamboyant Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa, known for his “crazy wisdom,” was giving a talk when he was asked by his student, “Can you talk about a massive aggression currently prevalent in America.” To which he answered, “Let’s talk about massive aggression in this room.” Many were shocked to realize what he actually meant.
What Chogyam Trungpa was saying was – start from within. Give it up. Let it go. And don’t cheat yourself by giving only 50%, you have to go all the way. Slowly but surely give, and give, and give. He further explained:
And when you do that… when you give up that sense of raw anger for the sake of giving it up … opening, surrendering from that point of view, actually plays a very important part because finally you begin to actually let go of your aggression and you begin to hear much better and see much better . When you give up more and more of this tightness of holding back, clinging to your anger… When you give more and more of this up-tightness of holding back and resentment, you begin to open up and there is a wonderful sense of relief.
He further explained, “When we actually make an effort to give and open ourselves the process itself is not particularly painful. But the idea of giving is very painful. So when you are being asked to take a leap and give, it is a terrible feeling, you feel terrible that you don’t want to do it.” But it only feels so because your ego is trying to trick you that you’re giving up control or that you’re giving up your only honor you have.
However, when you do it, when you make an effort to deal with inner aggression, it doesn’t feel as bad as you thought it would. In fact, it feels good. And the more you give the more you gain. Don’t worry, you wont go bankrupt by giving. Have you heard of anyone going bankrupt by giving?
In fact, I Googled it and it seems no one has ever gone bankrupt as a result of giving everything away. People go bankrupt when they only focus on gaining things, not giving. No one has ever gone bankrupt for being too generous. It is same with anger. You give up aggression and you will not go emotionally bankrupt.
2 Simple Steps of Giving up Aggression
So your spouse did something extremely stupid. I mean so stupid that it cost you time, money, resources and your social standing. She made you both look like total fools and your are furious. Ooooh you’re damn angry now… Hormones raging, now you’re going to unload all of it on her… I mean you have your finger on a nuclear launch pad button and are a few seconds away from a total annihilation. Perhaps the first few words even leave your mouth, and both of you exchange fire. STOP!
1. Take a very deep breath into your abdomen. Then another, and at least once more. This is when you gain that tiny moment of clarity.
2. Now you can say to yourself “I’m getting the hell out of here…” Just jet out as quick as possible. Do whatever you can, stick your head into a sand like an ostrich, or perhaps the freezer section would do a better job. Coooool it. Give it 20-30 minutes. That is how long it will take for the hormones to settle and for you to regain balance. It is crucial you practice and you must give yourself a chance to let go of aggression, right now right here, at this very moment.
These two simple steps are a powerful practice of giving up your aggression. This is where you brake the habit of acting out impulsively. You can still say what you want to say and make your point but without aggression.
Remember to be Angry?
I noticed an interesting phenomenon: when I find myself in a situation as described above and I practice the two steps most of that initial aggression dissipates almost immediately. That is because I instantly shift my focus from an object of aggression to focus of letting go.
Interestingly, if I still feel anger a couple of hours later then it is no longer my raw emotions that are sailing this ship but my memory. It is a memory of the situation that is evoking anger. Basically we’re saying, “Hey, don’t forget, this was wrong, you should still be angry!” So even though our aggression has been neutralized we then remind ourselves to be angry and consciously work ourselves up to that state. How crazy is that?!
It’s not the appearances that bind you, but the grasping. Therefore abandon grasping, Naropa, my son.” – Indian Buddhist master Tilopa’s words to his disciple Naropa.
This is where we are in the second phase of letting go because now we must give up the need to be angry. But we know this is where it gets tricky because we will not want to. Why? We’re clinging to it. And the reason we cling to that feeling of anger is because we attach our dignity, our pride, ours sense of righteousness, and it can indeed feel that if you have to let go of anger you have to let go of the issue which made you angry. But nothing can be further from the truth. You CAN let go of anger and still pursue the issue because those are two separate things!
Be a Big Dog
If you feel you will not be able to handle a situation with a cool head then leave the house for a few hours if you can. Do something else to distract your mind from “remembering” to be angry.
You really will not be angry any more unless you remind yourself to. Key is to let go of anger itself, only the anger. You have to tell yourself “I’m still upset, all of this is still messed up, she was out of line but I’m letting go of anger, because it will only make everything much worse. It will turn a conflict into a war and that will be much harder to put out. I am big dog. Big dogs don’t bark because they don’t need to.” Yep, I actually say these things to myself.
No war – No Fires to Put Out
In summary, we must practice letting go of aggression. There is just no other way to “transform” it. What we must learn is to stop clinging to it and allow it to dissipate by itself. When we begin to let go we gain more than we ever could wish for. And we do it by recognizing the onset of it, stopping, retreating, and letting go. Then we go back and address the situation.
Letting go of aggression does not mean letting go of the issue, the injustice, the hurt, it simply means choosing a manageable conflict instead of an emotionally devastating war. That is all friends, it can be that simple. Now go fight like champs!