I want to share with you an awakening that I had this week. I found it profound and life-changing and hope that you might appreciate it. It began like this.
For months now I have disliked driving. I’ve slowly been becoming a menace on the road. I’m aggressive, impatient and downright inconsiderate. I would not let people merge in front of me, I’d beep them if I saw they were using their mobile phone and I would yell and curse at them if they happened to cut me off. Now this is so far from the usually calm and patient person that I am. I am usually so timid and polite that this aggressive behaviour seemed so incredibly out of character. And it was out of control.
My psychologist suggested that the reason that I had become aggressive on the road was because I was squishing down feelings of anger in other parts of my life. Oh how interesting I thought!! I love seeing the unconscious part of ourselves in play and this was going to be a doozy. So I began my soul searching. What on earth was making me angry? The funny thing is, when you go looking for emotional issues you might have, you generally find them and then some. And so I did!
I was angry alright. Furious to be honest. I was white hot seething. And I had squishied this white hot anger so far down that on the surface I appeared to be just fine and dandy (although severely depressed) but underneath was a cesspool of disgusting murkiness. So my driving was just one example of how my anger was seeping into my every day life.
You see, a few years ago I fell into a severe depressive episode. Because I had become so very unwell, I had been in and out of hospital repeatedly. I had hit rock bottom. Subconsciously I blamed others for making me sick. It was someone else’s fault that I had suffered. And it was someone’s else’s actions that lead me to be at rock bottom. With each passing day as I focused on what others had done to me I became angrier and angrier. And with each bit of anger, I squishied it down nice and tight.
Once I had realised that I was angry, and I had taken time to reflect on what has made me angry I realised a thing or two. I wasn’t really angry; I was hurt. It felt like I didn’t matter to people who love me. I thought that I had lost people who are so very precious to me. Far from being angry, I was so very sad. Heartbroken. And I was angry with myself for putting myself through a difficult time. You see we all make choices in life and we’re all responsible for those choices. I chose to put myself in harm’s way and I chose not to speak up when I was not coping. It was my choice to stay in the storm. And I was angry with myself for putting me through that. Perhaps I should have known better.
And you know what, in science they say that any situation observed is a situation changed and that couldn’t be more true of my anger. As soon as I realised that I was hurt and angry with myself, I began the path to forgiveness. The heat went out of my anger. The energy went out of my rage. The tears began and washed away the remaining tension. And I was starting to heal.
I can’t say that I have overcome my anger entirely yet. It’s a process that I’m still working on. But at least now I know exactly what it is I’m feeling and who I hold responsible. You see anger is never about the other person. It’s about you and your expectation, because you are the one that holds the key to your emotions and no one else can take that away from you. Holding onto anger doesn’t hurt the other person. It only hurts you. Forgiveness is not about saying that what happened was ok. It’s about relieving you of your pain, embracing your responsibility and not allowing another human being to have control over you.
My driving has improved significantly. I’m much more patient and understanding of other drivers. I don’t hurry now and I don’t yell at people through my windscreen. I still feel tension sometimes but I’m working on it. I’ll get there. I truly believe that those things that we don’t talk about, the things that we bottle up and stew on, have a way of coming out in other areas of our lives. I choose to take control of my anger and hurt. I do my best to feel it and let go.