Taming the tiger

This week, I had another opportunity to reflect on my mind’s reactivity, another repeat lesson.

It was a day that began sleepless, thanks to the neighbour’s alarm being activated continually. With them away, their alarm had been going on and off all night long. There was a mess at work requiring tedious amounts of fixing. Every car seemed to be purposely blocking my way, hogging the fast lane. I’d wanted to see a friend before she left Cape Town, but the day’s events ended that. During the afternoon, the neighbour’s alarm again started triggering every five minutes. And, later that night at around 2am a car drove up and down the road, hooting loudly.

I chose to react angrily. The outside influences were just carrying on as they were, but my mind chose again to be angry in the circumstances.

It can be funny looking back. I haven’t reread the email I sent to my neighbour, but it couldn’t be as bad as the tirade I stuffed in another neighbour’s letterbox once before when their alarm was misbehaving. The cars I nearly rammed off the road were just driving, mindlessly perhaps, but undeserving of being terrified by a demon in a GTI.

The hooting was the final straw. I was ready to rush outside and confront (putting it mildly) the driver. Luckily the looming violent confrontation turned Chaplinesque, as I realised I had no clothes on. Racing inside, whipping on some pants, I charged out the front door. Only to see my pants falling down as my slightly large pants had no belt. Back inside, putting on a belt, then raging outside, even more furious by now, ready to baseball bat the car with my fist alone. By this time, luckily for all involved, the car had gone, and I stood glaring at the empty street, willing them to return.

Anger is my mind poison – I’ve smashed countless tennis and squash rackets, and done much worse in the heat of anger. There are times in my life when I’ve been consumed by it, other times where it seemed a distant memory. I suppressed it for a long time, but it eventually came back.

On the whole, these days I’m usually able to watch it arise, and let it go. Anger always seems ludicrous from the outside, only to the person caught up in it does it seem all-consuming. Anger isn’t best dealt with by suppressing it, in which case it’ll just come back with renewed strength, nor empowering and expressing it while caught up. Simply watch, see the cause in the mind, and, without judgement, let go.

Simple, really, but sometimes the simplest things need to be rehearsed again and again.

Looking for related posts, I was reminded of a quote I’d used in an earlier post, but had forgotten.

Anger clouds your vision. Anger is like a skin irritation. Anger is a bitter taste in your mouth that makes all the food you eat taste bad. Anger wears you out.

Don’t be fooled. Anger makes you feel less, not more, alive. Anger restricts your ability to take in and appreciate new things, changes, and growth.

Anger is a beast that can be tamed. This is your task. How can you tame anger? Give it no energy. Don’t feed it. Walk away when it runs up to you. Walk, don’t run — if you run, it will chase you.

Start now.

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