Anger: The Fuel Behind Empowerment

Life is hard! Life is also beautiful, fun, joyous and unpredictable. The times of joy are easy, wondrous and we feel happy to be alive. But how do we handle the difficult times? How do we handle life when the going gets tough? Do we get going, face our challenges or do we stand still, feeling helpless?

Not many things in life have mimicked what Covid has brought into all of our lives. Inherent in this pandemic are many opportunities, ones that bring us to our knees, while simultaneously lifting us up to meet our higher self. Covid has brought out feelings of helplessness, fear, anger, grief and regret. It has pushed us all to take a closer look at our priorities, relationships and our self. It has asked us whether we are running too fast, not truly looking at the state of our affairs or avoiding inevitable endings and the grief that goes along with change. Covid has asked us to turn towards, not away from our desire to check out, distract and distance our self from our past. It has required us to rethink our future, and hone-in-on what the present is truly asking of us. Covid has asked us to Awaken! And when something or someone wakes us up, there are five normal reactions we have to this change. Shock/denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

It is not coincidental that these reactions closely resemble the stages of grief. For with all change comes loss, death and grief. If we become stuck in any one stage, we never get to the other side, to the gifts of change which bring rebirth, possibilities, love we never knew possible and a joy for life we cannot imagine. Where do so many of us become stuck? Anger!

Anger is not only a part of change, it is the fuel behind all the stages. Anger is expressed within our denials! “This is not fair!” “Why me?” “Fix this now!” It is also the backbone to bargaining, in which we are pleading for another to make this all go away, rendering us helpless, resorting to victimhood. Depression is anger turned inward, but it is the necessary stage towards surrender, and eventual acceptance. It is this glorious opportunity when we accept change, and face the challenges head on, we once again turn to anger, but in a very different way. We use it to forge ahead, away from victimization into empowerment, and eventually, healing.

Our lives are always pulling us towards change, and healing. We are here to evolve, change and grow. And while some of us have had individual challenges that have woken us up, given us opportunities for healing, all of us are experiencing this now because Covid has handed this to us on a silver platter. It is up to us, to find the silver linings, to choose to see Covid as an opportunity or a curse. Whether we find it or not, eventually comes down to empowerment. What is empowerment?

The definition of empowerment “is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.” We do this through anger. We come to understand that anger was often modeled for so many of us in unhealthy ways. Either passive-aggressively or flat out, aggressively. Some of us have been conditioned that anger is not a good emotion, that we are being “mean” or “bitchy” if we express anger. We watch others lash out, instead of feel. React, not respond. Become disrespectful, in place of courtesy. There are also manifestations where anger has been turned inward, creating self-blame, self-harm and helplessness. The buck stops here!

Anger is a beautiful God given emotion that helps to empower us. It lets us know when our boundaries have been trampled, and our feelings dismissed. When we are being treated with less compassion, kindness and respect. It tells us where we are resisting, and it diminishes our illogical fears. It provides us with fuel to make changes that are necessary in order to move through the stages we have been forced to face with Covid.

Anger is the fuel for blasting through our unconscious blocks that are clogging our filter, holding us back from change. Anger energizes us to confront those that hurt us, while giving us fuel to clean up our clutter and our lives. It helps us to name the truth, holding others accountable for their transgressions and strengthens our allegiance to our self. It is the cornerstone of self-love and we simply cannot heal, live a life of joy, abundances and peace without it.

The next time, anger rears its beautiful head, when Covid initiates a fight with your sense of fairness, obliterates your routine and does not seem to want to leave you alone, allow it to fill up your senses. Be with it as your friend, and allow it to guide you to a sense of empowerment. It has been said that when we feel angry, we see the color red. Dorothy did have the power all along, and perhaps it was her ruby “red” slippers, her sense of anger, that allowed her to feel empowered, giving her the key ingredient to finding her way back home.

How to Respond when Tragic, Awful, Overwhelming Sh*t Happens in Life.

alesia-kazantceva-364341-unsplash-700x466.jpgShit happens.

I remember seeing this saying on a bumper sticker and loving it. I have always felt its accuracy in describing life.

Today, when I scan the news and take in the problems of the world, I find myself repeating these profound words—shit happens.

It is true. Shit happens all the time and everywhere.

While opening my news app this morning, the first thing I read was a tragic death—a head-on collision involving two moms and six kids in Oregon. Nobody survived, including the driver who caused the accident.

As I looked up from my phone, I could feel the darkness, the rabbit hole egging me on to jump in. In that moment, I had a choice. I could continue reading through the problems of our world, or I could look up, take in the beautiful sky welcoming the traces of clouds dancing by, birds flying between trees, the sun shining upon the green grass, the innocence of children, so filled with love, and how it is a miracle just to be alive.

We all have a choice. We can concentrate on the shit or the miracles, dwell in the darkness or the light. It is all out there for the noticing—the miracles and the shit.

I am only so readily able to do this, to forgo the negative, because of how often I used to dwell there. Still, I slip, I forget, and I get lost in a problem or a tragedy. It is an old pattern—to become entrenched in fear or worry—and it is something I have observed in my parents, as well as so many others.

Focusing on the miracle, while becoming gracious and humble, is also a pattern that we can cultivate.

I am certain that, if we thought we had a choice, we would all choose to focus on the miracles. Yet, we believe we have no choice. We think we have to blindly follow the news reports, allow our minds to wander down the rabbit holes of worries and what-ifs, and accept the conditioning that was handed to us as if it were truth.

We have a choice.

It was over two years ago that a miracle was brought into my life. It was so blatant that I could not have missed it if I tried. It changed everything for me. It was the moment I knew I had a choice and that I was not victim to the news reports or my conditioning.

It was 4 p.m. The day was unusually hot for the beginning of summer. The phone rang. As a parent, picking up the phone and hearing your child in tears and unable to speak fills you with panic. With my own heart in my throat, I asked what was going on. In between sobs, my daughter was trying to give me the pieces of a story, one that included an ambulance, a child, and a beautiful afternoon at a lake turned horrific in the blink of an eye.

The story, which I finally got out of my daughter, began like any other summer afternoon. Many families had gathered by the lake for a few hours of fun, swimming, and barbecue. My daughter was there babysitting a three-year-old girl.

As they were getting ready to swim, a mother came screaming by the edge of the water—she could not find her seven-year-old boy. It seemed he had disappeared, and they feared the worst—that he had wandered into the water.

The first miracle: fire department first responders happened to be at the beach that day. Along with a nurse and lifeguards, they all sprung into action, combing the lake.

Almost 10 minutes had passed when the second miracle happened. One of the responders accidentally stepped on the boy, who was facedown in five feet of water, unconscious. They performed all necessary medical procedures and rushed him off to the hospital. Things did not look good.

“He drowned! I saw them pull him from the lake,” my daughter’s words rang in my head for days as I obsessively scanned the obituaries and the local news. I found nothing. Her sadness cut deep into my heart.

Tragedy, death, and accidents are the shit that happens, and as parents we want to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this dark reality of life. We know it happens, but we just want to keep our distance for as long as possible. We want to fill everyone we know up with cotton candy, laughter, and bear hugs. We want to keep them safe and happy.

Yet, life is unexpected, and we cannot control what happens to us or to others. We can hope and pray that our loved ones are safe, that we don’t witness the shit, but sooner or later it is right in front of us. We hear about a famous actor committing suicide, a cancer diagnosis, or a teen passing on from a car accident. But death is a part of life, whether we think about it or not. We cannot protect anyone from the shit.

And maybe the point isn’t to try to control and protect. Perhaps the point is how we respond and how we choose to spend our time. We can choose to love, see the miracles when they are brought into our lives, dwell in gratitude instead of misery, and allow ourselves to feel through the shit when it happens.

Four to six weeks after that call from my daughter, she took off on a three-week trip to Tanzania. Her heart was still aching for that boy, but her zest for travel and discovery was healing the sadness and carrying her on. On a whim, I texted the family she had been babysitting for that fateful day, asking if they had heard anything further about that boy. I received this response: “If you talk to Lia, tell her the boy survived. No brain damage at all. A true miracle. His name is Nicholas.”

We have all heard the saying that bad things come in threes. So do miracles.

We all have a choice to stop, breathe, notice, and make a different choice. It takes practice, but it is possible. Whenever I find myself pulled into the messiness of life, the darkness and the void of the rabbit hole, I think of Nicholas, and my heart opens.

Life is beautiful and amazing, and Nicholas is a wonderful reminder of the miracles that happen every day in life.

Shit does happen, but not always. If we’re keeping score, there are far more happy moments, amazing sights, incredible acts of courage, loving connections, and even miracles in life.

The next time we find ourselves looking down into that rabbit hole of worry or fear, we can look up, consider whether we want to focus on the shit or the miracles, and remember Nicholas. I do.

My post was originally published on Elephant Journal. As it has been placed in the most popular posts section, I wanted to share it with my blogging audience. Thank you to Elephant Journal for editing and sharing. Here is the original post: 

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2018/08/how-to-respond-when-tragic-awful-overwhelming-sht-happens-in-life/