One thing that is common in spiritual teachings is the idea of detachment, not actually detachment per se but more about a lack of attachment, this is an important distinction. The reason it is an important distinction is that detachment points to a lack of care and awareness whereas the ability to lack attachment points to something else. What that something else might be was a very frustrating part of my path, especially when it came to emotions. For a long time, I thought it meant that I could achieve a state of mind void of anger and pain. But I never could reach that state, and I doubt anyone that chooses to keep an open and loving heart ever can. I tried out many different versions of what I believed, or thought should be my feelings, but that never seemed to work out very well. Like most things, practice is the key to success, so I kept on trying and eventually got somewhere.
Anger is a big one for me, I was probably not born angry, but I developed into a person where anger was my go-to emotion. Many schools of thought taught me a lot about anger. The most important idea I adopted was to accept my anger, to face it and safely feel it, and then to release it. This process did not void me of my anger, but it did give me the awareness to realize my anger was a reaction to feeling pain. The pain I felt was caused by not feeling loved in the way I wanted to be loved or treated the way I wanted to be treated. Knowing my anger was a call for love pointed me in the right direction, but it did not keep me from losing my temper. My anger was still in control.
The next step was forgiveness. I felt that the person or thing that triggered my anger and pain had to pay for it. I wanted revenge. I wanted someone or something to pay for causing me to be angry. Letting go of the need for revenge requires forgiveness and compassion. It is hard to forgive, but very rewarding. But I still felt angry.
Deeper down I felt that life was unfair, that I was a victim of the world and love and everything else. The whole setup was wrong and cruel. I needed to find acceptance. Acceptance is different than forgiveness and requires humility. The humility to accept we are not in control and do not know why things are the way they are. The humility to allow things to be, as opposed to trying to change them. By adopting humility and acceptance I became more compassionate, and it was easier for me to forgive others and make better choices about how I expressed my anger. I still get angry, but far less often and now I am in control as opposed to my anger controlling me.
Originally published at quietclarity.com