A conversation that seems to be cropping up more and more between my husband and I centers around some version of how to hold the “irritation,” the “frustration,” the “impatience,” dare I say it, the “rage,” that we are both experiencing when we look out at the world and see what is happening.
I put all of those hot button words in quotes to draw our attention to something I believe is crucial here. That being, the so-called “negative” emotions, the very ones we are most afraid of, and have been the most conditioned to suppress, are often sacred inner guidance coming to reveal something to us about what is happening. Like when a firm stand needs to be taken because the behavior or the circumstances are so off-base and out of alignment. Or because something is in violation of what should be inviolate; like when it comes to what supports Life, and what does not.
To work with such intensity is to say Yes to claiming enormous personal responsibility for how you understand and let these emotions inform you. For at their highest use, they are incredibly powerful and life-changing. But it is like learning to work with fire. Things can get burnt. Things can get out of control. Which is why so many of us are afraid to recognize and honor the message that is being conveyed to us by the fiery ones.
To be clear, this is not an excuse to go off on others, or to give you a pass because you are over tired and don’t have the bandwidth to be more patient or tolerant. Instead, it is an exercise in getting to know yourself so well that you can distinguish between a holy message and an out of balance response on your part.
To work with such charged emotions means opening up to the possibility that these seemingly troublesome feelings have a place; without indulging them or defending harm done. This requires developing a lot of self-awareness because god knows we don’t need one more of us justifying our rage as something useful and deserving in the world.
At their best, these fiery emotions can be a kind of holy rage that wells up from within. A kind of wild and transformative fire that is born of a steadfast commitment to a better way; offering up renewal and rejuvenation in its wake. But here is where practice and self-reflection comes in. For to wield fire is to know its power and its limitations. It is to get clear that this is never personal to another person, only to the behavior. And it is never about the reckless, self-indulgent “raging” driven by social media, party politics, victim mentality or a need to be right.
So, if you’re up for it, the next time you’re experiencing one of the so-called fiery, and even to many of us, dangerous emotions, wonder to yourself, “What’s this all about?” You will need to be relentlessly honest with yourself. You will need to be clear about where the emotion is coming from. And you will need to hold that however it’s used, it’s being done for the highest and best good of all.
P.S. If you catch a whiff of “they deserved it,” you’re in the wrong place. At its most balanced there is a clear and steady flame to holy rage that never feels out of control and never carries an intention to harm.