I have fielded many calls in the recent past from persons in the grip of strong emotions, primarily anger and fear.
Do you become angry and afraid? Have you ever wondered why?
Steve had a rough day at work. His boss asked him to do a report all over again even though he had scrupulously adhered to the guidelines he had been given. The boss had changed his mind about what he needed.
Instead of acknowledging this and apologizing he blamed Steve for not giving him what he now wanted. The HR clerk called to let him know that his expenses would not be reimbursed. True, he had stayed at a more expensive hotel than permitted but had assumed that he could cover the extra charges with personal funds. Not so. The clerk said there would be no reimbursement. He could probably get this reversed by going up the HR chain but it would take up time he did not have and use up relationship capital he wanted to conserve.
As he entered his house he felt something under his foot and heard an ominous crack. His son’s brand new Gameboy console had just broken. He had spoken to him many, many times about the inadvisability of leaving stuff around. Something snapped. He took the stairs two at a time with flames shooting from his eyes. He was going to have a word with his son.
Why did Steve get angry? Why do you get angry? Steve thought that he got angry because his boss was inconsiderate and senseless rules ate up his time and his
son was sloppy and heedless.
All true but these are surface explanations.
Steve got angry because there was anger in him. You get angry because there is anger in you.
There is an Indian sweet called rosogolla. It is about the size of a ping pong ball and white and very sweet.
If you drop a rosogolla on the ground and step on it, what comes out is sugary syrup.
You can beat it with a hammer or drop a suitcase on it or throw it against a wall.
No matter how you mistreat and ‘torture’ it, all that comes out is sugary syrup.
Why is this?
It is because that is what is in the rosogolla.
In exactly the same way anger flows out from you because it is inside you waiting for a time to erupt. Ditto fear. And ditto a whole host of nasty denizens like jealousy and insecurity.
Life is wonderful and presents you with manifold triggers for each of these to emerge.
But they can only emerge because they are inside you.
Recognize this. Don’t beat yourself up about it. That will simply add to the anger you are already carrying about.
Just begin the process of transmuting it. Here is a simple way of doing so. Think about something in your life that is a true blessing, something that you are grateful for.
It could be the peace you find when reading spiritual books. Or that you have a partner who genuinely cares for you. Or the smile on your infant son’s face when you look down on him in his crib.
Whatever it is, savor it and let that feeling of gratitude well up from within you and pour out of you in waves.
If you are a type A person who lives in your head – as many readers of this blog are – it may take a while to get from ‘thinking’ gratitude till you actually experience it.
Persist till this happens.
You will discover that it is impossible to be both grateful and angry at the same time.
And, no, you will not be able to be grateful that you are angry. Try it. It does not work.
When your default emotional domain becomes that of gratitude, you will be like the rosogolla I spoke about. No matter what happens in your life, you will respond with care, compassion and reasoned action.
Not with anger.
And you will find your life has been transformed for the better. Infinitely for the better.
If you would like more tips on how to affect such a transformation in your life, get a copy of my book Happiness at Work
I will be in India next week and will visit Kolkota where I will make it a point to consume many rosogollas!
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