Are You a Saint?

Posted by on Apr 12, 2013 in Blog, Coaching, Relationships, Spirituality | 0 comments

Today’s post is from my recent newsletter.  I hope you enjoy!

ARE YOU A SAINT?

If so, you can stop reading.  This message isn’t for you.

If you’re not, what’s the problem? 

Oh, you’re human.  Got it.  Me too!

There are people and organizations who make you angry, aren’t there?  Yeah, me too.  They’re hard to like, much less love.  It’s hard to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Your first inclination is to want to bury the low life #@!%$#*!.

 I understand.  And there are two basic problems with holding anger toward others. 

Problem number oneIt’s damaging to you.  You tear yourself up inside.  I don’t think I really need to elaborate.  You know what I’m talking about.  You’re stressed out to one degree or another anytime you’re not at peace with the world or any particular part of it.  And it’s hard to be really happy and healthy and full of possibility when you’re a stressed out mess.

 There’s an old saying … “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” 

 Amen.  How crazy is that?  Let it go.

Problem number two:  Things just don’t work in families and communities and countries … and the world … if everybody is mad at everybody else all the time.  We have to be able to see past the irritation, the hurt, and the anger if we’re going to share the blue planet in peace and relative harmony. 

Not much is possible in terms of interpersonal relations if we’re constantly glowering at each other, now is it?

If you want to see what it takes to break the ice when it’s pretty thoroughly frozen, watch the excellent film from 1979, Kramer vs. Kramer.  The story features two parents, as alienated as they could be from each other, who face off in a custody battle over a sweet, innocent little boy.  The story could have easily ended in mutual hatred and intransigence, as so many similar stories do … but it doesn’t. 

It ends with understanding and giving.  They make peace … and one would like to believe not just for the sake of the boy, but because nobody can live like that.  Hate is draining.  Anger is debilitating and soul-destroying.

Can you stop yourself from experiencing flashes of anger?  No, you’re not a saint, remember?  

Can you stop yourself from giving it tons of energy?  Of course.  But will you?  Well, that’s really the question, isn’t it? 

Will you indulge the worst aspects of your nature by choosing to linger in that dark, stressful, combative, and hopeless place?  Say it ain’t so.  You’re too precious to lose to the dark side.

But what about the bad actors in the world?  You can’t just sit back and let them get away with murder, can you?  No, and I’m not saying you have to. 

I’m not saying it’s inappropriate to take action to address the many serious problems that exist in our personal domain and the larger world.  You just can’t internalize the conflict and eat yourself alive in the process. 

Don’t think you have to adopt a warm and fuzzy attitude toward wrongdoing and bad behavior.  You can be a stand for what’s right.  You just can’t hate those you have issues with.  You can’t afford to.  The price is too high. 

If you choose to go into battle, so to speak, be a happy warrior, attacking the problem not the people.

Rise above.  Seek the higher ground … for your sake … for everyone’s sake.  But how? 

  • Detach yourself mentally as much as possible.  Do your best to look at things as an objective observer might.

 

  • Look at things from the other person’s perspective or the other side’s point of view.  As Scottish raconteur, Billy Connolly, says … “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that, who cares?  He’s a mile away and you’ve got his shoes!”

 

  • See if there’s something you can agree on … something you have in common.  Do you have a shared desire or some common goal, like the welfare of a child?

 

  • Accept that what’s done is done and move on.

 

  • And maybe most importantly, allow yourself to soften and be vulnerable.  Let them in.  Open your heart.  Sometimes things change for the better.  Ask the Kramers.

It’s hard to let someone in who has hurt you. Yet, by not opening our hearts, we’re actually hurting ourselves, holding ourselves back from being fully alive. And, that’s tragic.

For me, the more I hold onto the anger, the more my power is taken away.

Don’t let anyone take away your power … especially yourself.

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