Choose compassion in the face of anger
You know those moments when you are being supremely tested – something or someone is pushing and prodding at you. Bringing up all the feelings, reactions and negativity that you don’t want to experience.
Your frustration is at an all time high.
Perhaps someone is being out-right rude to you.
You might be having an irrational argument with someone who just won’t let up.
Your buttons are being pushed (over and over)
Or maybe (like I am of late) you are being tested by your spirited, seriously demanding and determined toddler with full-blown tantrums and resistance at every turn.
In those moments a version of me I prefer not to give too much attention to comes out (although I totally respect and appreciate that I have a shadow side and that I have to face up to all sides of my coin).
I’m quick to lose my cool. I want to stamp my feet. Roar loudly.
My ego wants to take control of the situation or the person. It wants to dominate and command attention with it’s angry words. It wants to put-out the circumstance with its fire.
I feel compelled to REACT instead of respond. I switch into a mode of being that is not constructive nor is it conscious.
At times this response can start to boil up within me – it threatens to erupt. Gratefully it doesn’t happen often, but it happens just enough for me to see it.
This especially happens when Soleil has a meltdown. Her frustration at being removed from something dangerous, her inability to communicate what she wants to do, or her annoyance that I’ve stopped the flow of a particularly interesting adventure she is on can all lead to an all out struggle.
However, it’s not just these moments with Soleil that really test me with an uncontrollable urge to (over) react, lash out and snap back. The desire to SHUT down those testing moments with anger, fear-based tactics, raised voices and force has showed up in arguments with my husband and family members. This might come as a surprise to you as I know many of you have emailed and commented that I am ‘so calm and gentle’ or that ‘I have my shit together’…
But let me just say this;
I am a beautifully flawed human. I am so in love with self-reflection and inner work BECAUSE I’m flawed. There is nothing perfect about this humble little human. Thank god for that – otherwise what growth and expansion is left to do?
It’s not that I am a walking, raging ball of anger… quite the opposite, but I am being truthful that there are ugly moments when I am seriously tested.
What I can say is this…
I make a conscious effort to get up close and personal with my shadow. I want to know my flaws – which I see as signposts guiding me towards a more wise, light-filled, conscious being. Without peering under and pulling apart too many layers I like to ‘understand’ where that little wound was first inflicted. And with this case – reacting in the heat of the moment – I know I’ve simply appropriated the unnecessary, narrow-minded, flash anger that runs through my family. Coming from a Middle-Eastern family, it shouldn’t be a surprise that ‘passion’ is threaded in my DNA.
So, why am I sharing all of this with you?
Since becoming a mama I now cannot look away from this any longer. I have spent years fine-tuning my ability to stay present, to respond instead of react and to manage my frustration and anger so I can move through challenges. So much so that my family calls me the ‘peace maker’. But life is about continual growth and up-leveling. We never find perfection, just a chance to refine the way we be, do, think.
Motherhood has shown where the cracks live – haphazardly sealed with spiritual glue. Motherhood has tested my peaceful, calm and present attitude and asked me to up-level again. To refine…
The frustration strikes when I’m trying to push a heavy pram, with an 11kg baby up a steep hill who is screaming, whinging, trying to climb out and throwing everything out of the pram at the same time.
Or the sheer exhaustion muddled with a sense of futility when she flat out refuses to get into her car seat, after 20 minutes of negotiation. My only option left is to yell to get her attention.
Or the exasperation and irritation in those moments when she’s desperately trying to communicate something and I’m just not getting it. She hits me. I feel anger. Meltdown of epic proportions.
This is where compassion comes into play
I know that the first step in healing my shadows is AWARENESS. To notice where my ego flares up.
To pause and breathe.
To take a moment to come back into presence.
To breathe again. And to remember that the energy I put out will be reflected back to me.
I choose to soften.
And then I choose compassion.
Instead of reacting from frustration and raising my voice. Or snapping, lashing out and breathing fire through my nostrils. I choose compassion. I choose to go gently, softly.
Why? Why in those moments when I’m being pushed, and tested do I choose compassion. Why do I go the complete opposite route to what my human (ego) instincts push me to do?
I choose compassion because it is in this moment that the very person that is pushing my buttons needs MORE love than they may seem to deserve.
I choose compassion because I do not own or control this person.
I choose compassion because anger and fear breeds more anger and fear.
I choose compassion because I don’t have the right to bully anyone into submission, into ‘my way’.
I choose compassion because I need love to hold me and guide me the right way.
It’s in these moments that we must look beneath the tantrums, the anger, the nit-picking, the persistent arguing and see that there is something else underneath that needs attention.
In the case of my little Soleil, when she seems to be ‘naughty’ or ‘bad’ on the outside, what I can see is a little baby trying to find her way. Feeling unheard. Or disappointed. Maybe even sad by what she cannot do, say and experience. To her, what she feels IS huge and valid. And all consuming.
She isn’t bad, or naughty. She is a soul that is going through its steepest learning curve not just as a human but also as a BABY rapidly developing and growing. I cannot begin to know what she is experiencing. The same goes with your family, your partner, with every other adult in your life. They ARE still learning, growing, developing, experimenting, changing. They are also on a steep learning curve, processing big emotions and often lost in their own shadows and ego.
So I choose compassion. I choose to give MORE love. More understanding. More respect. More awareness.
I can always choose love. I can always choose a different way through.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t still use a firm and direct attitude and voice (after all, when it’s time to go Soleil, it’s time to go!) but the undercurrent that carries it is love. Or that I don’t diminish my power or self-esteem to accommodate and simple ‘people-please’ the other. No… I’m still valid and important in those moments.
I explain to her that I understand how she feels.
I acknowledge those feelings.
I share how I feel and what I am doing.
When I feel heard, understood and acknowledged through the cloud and haze of my ego reactions (anger, frustration, aggression etc) it works to clear that haze and invite the light of my consciousness in.
It offers a chance to quieten, to ease back from the front line. To pull out of the trenches and back into a space where I’m allowed to feel what I feel without having to fight and react. This is why I choose compassion, because I want to invite Soleil back into consciousness, back into the present to feel what she feels. I want her (and whomever I am interacting with really) to feel heard and to know that together we can choose a different way through.
This has become a really powerful and important journey for me. As an individual I’ve been presented an incredible opportunity to become even more conscious and to reject the grip of ego reactions. I’m invited, daily, to find presence in the most challenging situations and to choose differently.
I don’t have to behave in the way I’ve been sub consciously programmed to. I don’t have to switch into automatic pilot. I do not need to let fear and anger run rampant. But instead I choose compassion.
And in doing so I hope that I’m sharing this powerful lesson to my child, and perhaps helping others in my life feel that consciousness and compassion seep into their being too.
In choosing compassion I’m believe that the message that sinks in is this…
You matter. What you feel matters. what you are going through matters. I see you, I feel you. I love you.
With more compassion brings less judgment
The more that I opt for compassion as my way forward the less judgment I feel towards the other. The less I feel ‘high and mighty’ about what I want or what I believe. In doing so, we come onto an equal playing field – able to respect each other, communicate better and in doing so acknowledge that there is no wrong, or right. It takes me out of the ‘me’ mindset and into the ‘we’… so we can work through it together.
When you least want to. When you feel it’s least deserving. When it’s the last thing you think of. When anger colours the moment… Choose compassion.
love + light,