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How to Kiss and Make-Up
...With Yourself (Experiment #1a)
How has it been going out there, friends? A little good? Maybe also little rough?
Ain’t it always thus? We think we’d love for life to be a big plate of cherry pie with a melty scoop of not-too-sweet vanilla ice cream on top. We long for a life of abundant flowers and sausages. A never-ending spree of buy one, get one free.
But it turns out what we get is mostly a muggy mix. We look down into the trick-or-treat bag of life only to find it’s a few full-size candy bars mixed in with a heap of candy corn and tasteless Necco wafers. Sometimes, like Charlie Brown, we even get a rock or two.
If Life has been handing you a bunch of big, fat “No”s lately, you’re not alone. And I’ve got an experiment for that.
A few weeks ago I described Experiment #1 Find the Yes in the No. (I’d love to know; did you try it?)
Today I’m returning to follow-up, and to offer the same experiment in a slightly different flavor: Finding the Yes in the No… of Anger.
I came across this quote by Thich Nhat Hanh last week:
Do not fight against pain; do not fight against irritation or jealousy. Embrace them with great tenderness, as thought you were embracing a little baby. Your anger is yourself, and you should not be violent toward it. The same thing goes for all your emotions.
Basically my job is to recognize that my anger is a baby that is really myself and I should embrace it.
This sounded incredibly sweet when I first read it, but it didn’t seem to help much when I got into bed last night feeling hot and pissed. My writing had let me down, harder than it had in a long time. I’d worked the whole day on a post, and even after hours of careful thought and attention it just. wasn’t. working.
I was mad at my writing and mad about being mad at my writing. Ugh, I tossed out in familiar fury at the Muse, or whatever it is that makes my writing “work” on a good day, I thought this time would be different, but, no, it’s the same old crap!
And have you ever noticed how anger rarely shows up alone? Mine usually shows up with one of several pimple-faced, evil-grinned sidekicks. Piling on and chiming in, “Yeah!”, every few minutes and generally making everything worse. Common anger sidekicks include: Fear. Hunger. Hurt. Shame. Last night mine was exhaustion mixed with disappointment, together they were gasoline glugged generously enough to make my hot fury hotter and my cloudy thinking even cloudier.
Y’all, I was buried deep in a No hole.
I was no to my writing (How could you do this to me?!) and a no to my anger (F#*@ you! I hate this!). But falling asleep angry is something I cannot do.
It was time to take my own medicine. I had to find some “Yes” in my “No”s, to wriggle my way into some kind of truce with myself.
Step 1: Get a No
Me: Ugh, you stupid wad of overwrought gibberish! I did my part! I showed up and worked hard! And how was I rewarded? With a big pile of suck!
Writing: Dude. I tried. Sometimes we just don’t have it.
Step 2: Find a Yes in the No (What’s the need we are saying yes to, underneath the no?)
Writing: Were you hoping to have clarity? To get at the truth of a complex experience while simultaneously touching your reader’s heart and making them laugh?
Me: And… competence. I really, really prefer to feel competent.
Collaborate Hug yourself?
Friends, I know someone who closes his eyes and hugs himself before falling asleep each night, whispering, “Good job. Good job.”
I’ll admit that this sounded a bit too woo-woo for me when I first heard about it. On the other hand, who doesn’t want to feel embraced, to hear the words “Good job,” at the end of a long, frustrating day wrestling with words, work, traffic, irrational toddlers, the convoluted maze that is our our tax or medical system.
I tried it last night. And it felt pretty good.
So, maybe try it with me? After finding the “yes” in your “no”s tonight, maybe wrap your arms around yourself (yes, you can do it in your mind if it’s too weird to do it with your actual body). Maybe even try to sense a warm, soft kiss on your forehead. Whisper to yourself, “Good job.”
Then rock your inner anger baby to sleep.
I love that you’re following along here at the Living the In-Between Times! If you liked this post, tap the ❤️ so more people can find it. And, will you let me know in the comments what you think of this experiment, or share any thought-provoking results? You are awesome!