image credit: mckibillo
There are endless opportunities for spiritual practice in any given moment or circumstance in life. This morning I was graced with one such opportunity. My credit card statement came in the mail and there was a charge that finally made it on my account even though I had talked to both the merchant and the credit card company about it over three months ago. Because the rate of exchange is much higher now on the dollar than it was three months ago, I ended up having to pay a lot more. My husband was angry about that but was resigned to let it go. But I am not one to let an injustice go without speaking up, so I decided to take it up with the credit card company.
It turned out that the supervisor I spoke to was not receptive to my request to have them take up the cost of the difference in the exchange rate. He made some remarks that were not what I would consider good customer relations. As the conversation went on, we both felt more frustrated and I ended up feeling unheard and more angry.
I noticed how easy it was to get all caught up in the emotion of anger. Anger like all the other emotions have an effect on the physical body as well as the mind. My stomach was knotted up, my chest was tight, my lower back was aching. I could feel the hot energy of anger coursing through me. I managed to remember to breathe and to calm myself. I was wronged and I still needed to have some resolution. I could not let it go at that moment.
I talked to the merchant and although it wasn’t any fault of theirs, they offered to give me a twenty percent discount on my next purchase. This exchange was pleasant and I felt heard and valued as a customer. It made me feel a lot better and I thought that it would be appropriate to call the supervisor back and tell him the outcome. I related what I learned about how to deal with this kind of situation in the future and offered some feed-back about how I was affected by his remarks as a customer. He responded with awe, that I would call him back to give him feed-back in such a professional manner. I felt that I had some closure on the issue. I felt heard by everyone and the supervisor came away feeling better too.
In Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, he said,“The practice of mindfulness, of recognizing and embracing anger is to open the door of your hell and transform it, rescuing yourself and the other person, returning together to the land of peace. This is possible and you are the one who is going to do it…” Getting to peace is not easy when the ego has so much investment in being right, being victimized and laying blame. This experience reminds me of some tips I have learned about dealing with anger:
- To refrain from saying or doing anything that would incite more of an angry response.
- Practice mindfulness, breathe and come back to self.
- Make a conscious effort to wait until the emotion has receded to speak to the person about it later, when you can both be more open to hearing each other.
- Recognize that it is the unresolved anger that we carry from the past, that is being triggered in all situations.
- Recognize that we alone are responsible for the anger we feel, no matter how justified we feel in being angry. Someone who does not have anger in them will not respond with anger, but in a calm manner.
- Refrain from laying blame.
- Contemplate the possibility that our perception of the situation may be wrong.
- Remember that everybody is only doing the best they can in the moment, though they may have done better before and have the potential to do so later.
- Be willing to forgive yourself and the other person, no matter who is at fault.
- Sometimes everyone is right in any given situation.
- Resolve to act with more compassion for self and others. Anger is an expression of pain and suffering. Compassion brings the healing energy of loving-kindness and helps to alleviate the suffering of all concerned .
- Be willing to live with happiness than in being right.