So many things made me angry. We moved every two years. I was bullied for being overweight. I had a big family, but often felt alone. I had a lot of responsibilities at a young age. My mother and I would lock horns a lot. I often felt misunderstood at home and in school. In high school, my mother became terminally ill. Personal accomplishments were expected, so they weren't celebrated. And I never felt I had a voice in any part of my life. I learned not to complain about anything.
So there was nowhere for all that anger to go. There were times as a child it would overwhelm me and I would have "breakdowns" that nobody ever knew about. I had plenty of alone time as a child to come unglued with nobody noticing. It scared me, but telling anyone would be fruitless. I was already known for being dramatic and, like I said, we really weren't allowed to complain about anything. My mother was either working and couldn't deal with it, being an Air Force "first lady" and couldn't deal with or dying of cancer and couldn't deal with it. It was never a good time to have a problem.
As I got older, a lot of things changed. First, I had a lot more control over my life and how many times I moved and how much my life would be disrupted. I got called names a lot less. I had a measure of professional success and felt noticed and appreciated. And, by the time I was 25, both of my parents were dead, so I created my own support network that would give me the affirmation or whatever it was that I needed. But more importantly, I found something bigger than myself to believe in and have faith in.
At one point I realized that a lot of my anger came from things I had zero control over. And that anger was fueled by the fear of all the things that would be out of my control due to all the stuff I had no control over. And that made me feel very vulnerable. And, feeling alone as I did back then, I couldn't afford to be vulnerable.
I reckon everyone reading this recognizes that last paragraph in some form or another.
As we move along our spiritual path, we learn that life will always throw us stuff we have no control over. We learn that there is no situation where we don't have a choice, even though our options may not be options we can abide. And we learn to cultivate a practice of letting go and having faith. We learn how to transcend much of our anger and fear. Which doesn't mean it's ever fully gone. I always make monks an exception...haha...people who don't have to live in reality and can devote 24/7 to their faith and trust. But for most of us, fear and anger are things that are going to suck us in from time to time.
I'm mentioning this because I'm seeing a lot of fear and anger these days. Ban Muslims! No refugees! Don't take my guns! You're threatening my rights! You're threatening my way of living! What they really mean is "I'm used to things the way they are—even though I'll concede it's not really working this way—and I am afraid of how things might change!" But they'll never say that because they're too busy being angry to see it. They're too afraid of change to even consider compromise. They feel vulnerable and don't feel like they can afford to be vulnerable.
In a previous blog, I wrote about how I believe our behaviors come from one of two places—love or fear. There is value in both. But I find my life is lot happier if I make the lion's share of my moves from a place of love. And love includes trusting in the universe. Embracing change. Letting go and letting God. And trusting that our prayers are being answered, even if it doesn't look that way. There's a difference between "letting go and letting God" and just laying down and letting the world walk all over you. But fearful people don't know that, no matter how much they say they have faith, because they're not Actually letting go. They're not actually trusting. Instead, they're holding on to fear.
Lately I've been feeling a lot of anger and, yes, fear over the way people have been talking in our country. I feel like I'm being pulled down into that vortex that so many in this country choose as their life. And I know this is about fear, because I'm angry. That's my clue. And I know I feel out of control, because what if this wonderful country I live in becomes overcome by fear and hate? There's nothing I can do to stop it. Because fearful people can't be reasoned with and they bring such darkness and alarm to any hint of change, that we can't ever seem to try anything that could make us happier.
You wouldn't know it by observing us, but we're #15 in the world in terms of happiness, which is measured by things like economy, life expectancy, freedoms, etc. Number 15 is pretty good. It puts us in about the top 5% of the countries and regions covered by the poll. But I think if you measured it in terms of a love/fear quotient, we'd land much lower.
And the thing is, we have so little to be afraid about. The last war that took place on our soil was 150 years ago and we fought ourselves. We've never been invaded by anyone. We've always been the invader. Historically, we've known no famine. Our economy is on the uptick. There's very little foreign terrorism or violence in our country—almost all of it is Americans killing Americans. At various times in history we were warned about what the Italians and Polish and Germans and Asians and Mexicans would do to our country if we let them in, and nothing ever happened. And yet so many in this country are terrified. In fact, we act like such assholes because of it that it's a wonder Canada and Mexico haven't joined forces to smack us down. We haven't gotten nearly our share of things to legitimately be afraid of based on the way we've treated others in this world. We are fortunate beyond our means.
I know what I need to do to get myself back on track. I need to disconnect from the sources of fear and move back towards sources of love. And if you're frustrated and pissed off, maybe you could do the same. It begins by asking yourself simple questions, like am I making this decision out of fear or love? Am I entering into this conversation out of fear or love? (hint: most debates come from fear) Am I doing what I'm doing out of fear or love? The more we move toward love...toward God or Jesus or the universe...the more blessed we become. I know this from personal experience. Living from a place of fear isn't freedom. It's not constructive to yourself or those around you. And it's really just barely living.
This isn't about people who have different opinions than me. It sounds like it to the defensive and fearful...haha...but it's not. We all have opinions and preferences. And we could all make up stories about where ours come from. I could say my obsession with sweets is about love. I love sweets. But if I'm honest with myself and look deeper, there's a lot of fear in my "love" of chocolate, because I usually crave it when I'm angry, stressed, bored or unhappy. So that's all I'll say. Ask yourself whether what you're doing, saying and thinking is coming from love or fear, and put your knee-jerk "I'm perfect and everyone else is imperfect" attitude to the side long enough to let the truth shine through.
We only get this one chance to live. Let's do what we need to do to live it from a place of love. There is no law that can be made, no president that can be elected, no circumstance that you could come across that could MAKE you live in fear and anger. It's an internal thing that only you have power over. You can choose love or not. You see it all over the globe in places where war, famine and poverty reign and there are still people choosing love. It is your mightiest power. It's your security in times of uncertainty, if you let it be. Know you have the power and choose love.