Working with Anger

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-What People Say Or Do Is Never The Cause-

by Paul Shippee

I feel grateful for NVC (Nonviolent Communication) training because it shows “how to” deal with our suffering and stuck places. It is a useful tool for dealing with depression and even more so with anger. And in our modern times it is a welcome and effective partner to meditation.

NVC is a path of healing from emotional pain by guiding us to work directly with our inner life, our heart and with our feelings and needs specifically. Marshall clarifies this nonviolent application of skillful means when he says, “NVC is built on the premise that anger is the result of life-alienated ways of evaluating what is happening to us.” In essence, he means that anger is never caused by others.

Further, he says that our self-alienated ways are “based on ways of thinking that imply wrongness or badness on the part of others for what they have done.” In this way, our blame is a dark cloud that distorts and captures our thinking, directs our energy outward and is responsible for the suffering of ourselves and others.

In other words, what someone has said or done is never the cause of our anger; it is only the stimulus or trigger. So, “we don’t want to mix up what people do – the trigger – with the cause of anger.”

When we are able to take in and practice this inner life revolution we can reliably touch peace and harmony that is natural to our being. Again, the cause of our anger is always our own thinking and our judgments. This is a fortunate situation because with proper training we can free ourselves from unnecessary pain by reflecting on and changing our thinking and judgments. In this way we can direct our energy inward instead of outward, and our anger can be transformed into the healing we need.

How to do this is simple but not easy. It means that we identify the unmet needs that are driving our judgment and anger. When we do that a shift happens in our body that may feel like the hot, painful and compressed quality of anger is now released into a more cool and open way of thinking. This is a healing shift of consciousness. Learning to identify our unmet needs, and the needs of others, is simply a new way of thinking and being that allows our natural compassion to arise.

The magic of NVC and the beauty of healing happens when we fully internalize and integrate a new NVC consciousness and way of living. It connects with our inner life and is more natural than our conditioned and habitual way of thinking – a kind of automated, unconsciousness reaction to pain by judging and blaming and making others wrong, thus blocking our pain and hurt by transferring it to others.

“Blame is a way of unloading our emotional pain onto others.”

-Brene Brown

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