Anger and the Gun


gun-triggerIMAGINE WHAT HAPPENS when a gun fires. For this even to happen, a trigger has to be pulled, and this action sets off a chemical reaction at the level of the gunpowder, which then, by exploding, creates a force that propels the bullet out of the gun.

When we get angry, a similar process is set off. We get triggered, and we explode and propel our bullet — our anger — towards others who said or did something that we didn’t like. We react.

In reality, what the other person said or did is totally neutral; what loads our anger within us is the storyline we tell ourselves about what just happened. Some do not understand this, because if the other person is not the cause of my anger, then what is?

The explanation is very simple: it is the storyline we play out in our own head, and anger is nothing but a reaction we choose to have to a particular situation. What the other person does is the trigger. The cause of our anger — our explosive outburst — is in the realm of our thought.

Pulling the trigger
Perhaps now you can start seeing the analogy between anger and the gun. In both cases, you need to pull a trigger for a rather explosive situation to take place. In both cases, the trigger is not the cause of what happens next. In both cases, the cause is the explosion within.

When we get angry, we have a message from our inner self telling us that our needs have not been met. Perhaps we also feel powerless and beaten — and, in response to feelings that we experience as uncomfortable, we explode, sending our verbal bullet towards others, looking for some sort of quick-fix relief for ourselves.

In reality, if we stopped for a moment to see what was happening, we would see a chain of events running roughly along these lines: someone says or does something, and we get triggered. An almost instant reaction happens in our thinking processes, and Whaaaam! We direct “a piece of our mind” toward someone else.

If we look at the process in even more detail, we will see that in that fraction of a second that passes between the other person saying something and our bodies loading and getting ready to discharge anger, there is actually a rich, intense process happening. There is a gap, a moment during which we make a decision as to how we are going to act next. For a fraction of a second, we have a choice: we can spill out our anger or we can simply refrain and hold it and stay with the uncomfortable and charged energy and transmute it into love, and express this love through empathy and understanding for our counterpart.

While these powerful energies are raging within us, we can simply look at them, without any kind of judgment. We can simply look at what is going on inside, and see the thoughts we are creating about the situation, about the other person, about ourselves. While we do this, the level of energy within us will start to change, and we will, slowly, start coming to a more quiet place within.

Every time we make this choice, we are beginning to create a new course, one that does not involve lashing out and will, one day, culminate in our catching ourselves not making ourselves angry and, instead, acting with compassion and love towards others.

If we put ourselves right on stage, under the light of the reflectors, and look at the way we act, then we give ourselves the chance to start breaking a behavioral pattern, a pattern that is holding us captive in our anger, as if it were a cage.

Surrender the power
Someone says something, we get triggered, and boom — off goes the bullet. When we live this way, we put ourselves at the mercy of others, and in so doing, we give away a great deal of power. If other people are into dominating and controlling, by reacting to their way of doing, we allow them to control us. Put differently, if someone says a certain sentence to us, we feel flattered and we say to ourselves what a nice person that one is. If, on the other hand, this same individual comes back to us the next day and says something that we don’t like to hear, we dismiss her and tell ourselves that she seemed so nice, when in reality she is just an idiot.

We completely surrender the power — the possibility to be our most true selves — when we let situations act on us in this way. We stop ourselves from living truly and profoundly happy lives, and this is perhaps the most rewarding side of choosing not to react: we live lives in which we are fully in charge of our emotional course.

Life throws at us numerous situations that we would happily live without, if we had a choice, yet they come our way. A flat tire, a cell phone refusing to work while we expect an important call, a boss at work who fires us, a waiter not responding to our smile and giving us rough service while on a date. Most of us would prefer to avoid these situations, yet they are part of life.

If we manage to stay in that loving realm within, our entire view of life will change or, as I love to say: “If you change the way you look at the world, the world you look at changes.”

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Jerry Zondervan is an Inner reference vocational spiritual counselor in humanist psychology, nutritional advisor and massage therapist, with a background in the social sciences at the open university of the United Kingdom. Through Inner reference counseling (IRC), it is possible to quite rapidly see changes in oneself, and create a life of one's dreams, by focusing on the things that we really wish to see happening in our lives, and away from the limiting thoughts we create. Money, success and loving relationships are an expression of how we feel, and what we tell ourselves. On the other hand, IRC, combined with nutritional advice can create the long sought dietary and health-related changes that we wish to achieve, away from heaviness, bloating, obesity and a sense of fatigue.


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