Sunday, June 24, 2018

6/25/18—Struggling With Anger

Sometimes doing the right thing, making the right choice or having the right opinion can be unpopular. It can certainly feel unpopular. Sometimes it can make you feel like a pariah. But when you walk the spiritual path, you have to keep growing. And those around you may not be ready to grow. Grow anyway.

Each time something like this happened to me, I was rejected and ridiculed by people who couldn't stretch themselves. Maybe I forgave someone too soon. Refused to lower myself to someone's level. Walked away from groups I no longer resonated with. Maybe I saw something others weren't ready to see. Maybe I thought or believed something others hadn't come around to think.

It's hard not to hate these days, especially if you're an American. It seems to be that way on all sides of the situation. I struggle with it myself. But I feel this situation is asking me to grow. And it's also asking me to risk becoming "unpopular" because I don't want to join in the hate anymore.

If you abandon your values and beliefs when times get tough, then the proper foundation hadn't been built, no matter how spiritual you think you are. (And, frankly, we regularly outgrow the foundations we build in life anyway.) It's easy to love and forgive everyone when your world is stable. It's easy to connect with your higher power and elevate your vibes. But when others challenge, offend, gall, anger or befuddle you, godliness can fly right out the window.

So how much do you really believe we're all one? How willing are you to forgive? How much do you really trust in your higher power to steer you safely through chaos? How much do you want to turn toward love instead of hate? How much do you want to seek what makes you feel larger? How badly do you want to be part of the solution instead of being distracted by the problem? And, most importantly, are your heart, mind and actions reflecting those ideals?

I ask myself these questions a lot. And some days I'm disappointed in the answers I have to give. It's a struggle. And there are times when you make decisions for your own growth that may not the serve the growth of others. We're all here on our own missions. My forgiveness may be what I need to stretch, and another's lack of forgiveness may be what they need to sit with. My decision to move on may be what's right for my soul's journey and another's decision to stay and love them anyway may be what they need.

Forgiveness and letting go of hate are very similar in that neither mean you have to continue surrounding yourself with the person. Neither mean you have to engage the person if you see them in the future. And neither mean you're OK with what they did. Both, however, DO mean you're shifting the energy in your heart. Neither are about the other person. Both are about you and the energy you carry in your heart. And neither is "complete" until you not only do and say forgiving or loving things, but also think loving and forgiving things. The thinking part can still be a challenge long after your outward facing self seems past it.

Interestingly enough, when you make that shift in your heart and mind, the other person often finds their way to growth, too, because the "you vs. me" energy has been broken. You could be half a world away and they can feel it. It shouldn't be your intention. Your intention should be to free yourself and move on. But it does demonstrate how the energy all of us hold shapes the energy of everyone else.

The Buddhists have a loving kindness meditation they do where you imagine you're walking down a road and and someone you love crosses your path. Your heart opens as you greet them. Then you continue on the path and come across an old acquaintance. Your heart opens as you greet them. Then you come across someone you had a beef with long ago, but have forgiven. Your heart opens. Then it's someone you don't even know, but disagree with. Then it's someone who has hurt you or you currently disagree with.

It gets harder and harder as you go down the path. But life is like that, too. You learn to forgive stupid stuff, then you encounter something new to find "unforgivable". And so it goes. It's like that with every lesson and every layer of the onion you peel away. But as you look around you and see others modeling principles you admire, know this: they are still on the same path as you. They haven't graduated, they're still struggling the same way you are, just maybe a lttle further down the road.

Sometimes growth can be painful. Sometimes it drops you off in the unknown all by yourself. And sometimes you wonder what the benefit is if you lose companionship because of it. But it's not about being popular or right. It's about living in the fullness of your ideals. It's about walking the talk. Cutting the strings that tether you to your smaller self. It's about integrity. With each step you come closer to your god and closer to the tribe that will take you again to the next level.