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An antidote to anger (2): kindness

By - Jan 10, 2017 - Category Practice - Print Print - Version française

anger kindness

This is the second – in vivo – stage of practical work introduced in December (see An antidote to anger (1): analysis): going deeper into what triggers anger, reframing our relations to others as central to our practice and making kindness the active ingredient in the struggle against anger.

Stage 2: In vivo practice

1) Initiating a global change

Literature review: I started reading up about anger in books on child psychology. I was initially looking for passages on parental anger, but what I mostly found in the end were studies on anger in children, and they helped me understand a lot. Psychologists agree that anger is a natural emotion that stems from a feeling of inability to control events and the clash between frustration and the pleasure principle. Because their intellect is still developing, children are unable to understand what is upsetting them or to reason with themselves. Everything that opposes their desires is experienced as frustration. Parents faced with their children’s tantrums and aggressiveness have to play the part of the reasoning conscience and explain calmly and firmly the boundaries that children must respect. Thinking about this (rather obvious) point, I realized that instead of playing the part of the adult, I too very often locked myself into an infantile attitude, where I would express my frustrations through anger rather than filtering them through reason. The resulting problem is that I am no longer in a position to soothe the anger generated in my children by that inevitable frustration they experience as part of the process of their learning about boundaries. As I give in to my own weakness of reacting with anger like a frustrated child, I further contribute to my children’s frustration, providing no explanation, which in turn triggers even more anger and the whole thing just escalates. Since this has been going on for several years I am somewhat at a loss. I am forced to admit that I have conveyed a flawed model of behaviour to my children: brutal reactions instead of calm reasoning.

Experience: My sister came to spend a couple of days at my house with her son who is 3. I was struck (even more than I usually am, given my current work on the issue) by how calm and gentle she was, by her unbelievable ability to distract her child’s attention away from things he was not supposed to do, and the patience with which she would explain 100 times why he had to brush his teeth and take his medicine. Her approach seemed to work too, as in the end the child listened and was quite calm. That is where my always-watchful imperious self stepped in and said: “Fine, but she only has one! She doesn’t have anything else to worry about. Plus, every now and then, you have to make your children simply obey without explaining everything every time. Everything revolves around this child, etc.” Then, in the middle of a pleasant lunch, my children suddenly started to argue with each other and their words were so aggressive and mean it turned me upside down. One of them suddenly left the table, slammed the door and went on to sulk in a corner after having screamed at everyone that nobody loved him anyway. We all looked at one another, stunned, and my sister said: “I’m sorry to say this, but I think your children’s tone and their aggressive behaviour are the result of your anger and the aggressive tone you often use with them…” I pinched my lips together to keep myself from yelling “Mind your own business!” with my exacerbated imperious self whispering to me “Who in the world does she think she is? I’d like to see her with four children and no one to help…” But deep down in my soul, with my reason and my conscience, I knew that she was right. If I wanted anything to change, I’d have to start by changing myself. That is the ABC of any form of education or teaching. How could I expect kindness and forbearance, gentleness and tranquillity from others when I so often am a living example of the opposite?

Reorganizing my schedule: Once I had acknowledged that anger is more likely to be triggered when I am stressed, tense, tired and running behind schedule, I told myself that I should try and reduce my fatigue so my imperious self would not have that hold on me. Many women work, raise their children, have a million things to do, and yet stay calm. As it turns out, I ran into several such women “by chance” recently (some even with 4 or 5 children and full-time jobs). So I reorganized my schedule more rationally to carve out time when I can really be with my children. I cancelled some of my activities but kept my gym routine that helps me stay healthy and balanced.

Changing perspectives: What the analytical phase showed me is that anger is only one manifestation of a more global problem. We become angry when things are not the way we want them to be—first because our pride makes us want to control everything, but also because fundamentally, we do not have a sufficiently detached and spiritual view of things. The fact that my anger manifests itself primarily with family and friends is indicative that it is triggered where I am emotionally involved. For example, I can’t stand that my children are not perfect—they are my children so they should be and act as I expect them to. The most striking example is that of my second son who is having serious difficulties with his schoolwork. The mere thought of it is unbearable to me. When I receive his report cards, no matter how much I try to reason with myself, I just cannot keep calm and I blow my top, which is not only counterproductive but also harmful. It leads to the opposite of what I hope to achieve and I upset my son instead of encouraging him. As I thought about the violence of my emotions, I realized that what I couldn’t stand was the image of myself that he was reflecting back to me. I was perceiving his failures as my own instead of seeing the situation as a spiritual scenario destined to make me improve my sense of detachment (while at the same time of course carrying out my duties as a parent and doing everything within my power, including being very strict if necessary). I began a daily routine of autosuggestion to help me reach such detachment. I failed, a number of times, and it has been and continues to be a very painful process, but it is getting a little better and as a result, I was able to do what I thought would simply be impossible: I focused on seeing the positive side when my son’s last report card informed me that he would have to repeat the year. Most importantly, I was able to stay calm when I talked to him about it. This may seem like almost nothing, but for me it was a huge step forward. This work has helped me enormously to improve on this point.

More generally, I continued reflecting on education and relationship issues and tried, on a daily basis, to better appreciate what was spiritually at stake. While reviewing my day at night, I reminded myself for every time I got angry that day: “You forgot why and for whom you are raising your children, doing people favours, working on yourself, etc.” If I am not doing something for divine satisfaction, then I am doing it for my ego and the tiniest mishap makes me lose my temper. Whenever I try to focus my intention on divine satisfaction however, instead of perceiving obstacles as attacks against me, I manage to see them as opportunities for spiritual progress. I have been trying really hard to use this idea of “divine satisfaction” to help me calm down—it has the effect of a balm when you are struggling with yourself.

Experience: My aunt was leaving for a long trip and I offered to take her to the airport. My intention was to do her a favour even though I had no desire to do it whatsoever. It did not help, of course, that she had been getting on my nerves quite a bit lately with her criticisms, particularly about my permanent state of irritation. As I drove to pick her up I got a bit lost because of a deviated route. I started getting annoyed but thought: when you do someone a favour you have to expect and accept that there might be some inconveniences. I arrived at her house, carried her rather heavy suitcases to the car, threw at her a couple of snide remarks about what she could possibly have packed that weighed so much (I couldn’t help it), and off we went… In the car, we conversed pleasantly for a while as we drove along when suddenly she commented sharply about how I have become such unpleasant company because I was always irritated and bitter. I was boiling as she spoke but was too polite to start screaming at my aunt and I caught myself before I slipped into the usual deeply sarcastic calm and intentionally hurtful quip I am so good at. Luckily, my inner alarm went off and I remembered: “You are doing this for divine satisfaction, you are doing this for divine satisfaction. Don’t get angry or you will spoil everything!” My heart was beating like crazy, I felt like an animal ready to pounce on its prey, but I turned to God and tried to calm down with a touch of humour: “Thank you God for always watching over me and sending me challenges and criticisms as signs of Your benevolence!”

These meditations, that sometimes were sheer torture for my ego, forced me to acknowledge that my anger, whether expressed outwardly through screaming or inwardly through mental recriminations and attacks, was in fact a symptom of other spiritual faults that were quite serious: ingratitude, lack of trust and pessimism. I treat others like punching-balls because of a profound state of unhappiness that comes from the fact that I am not content with my life. What I am really doing is using them to take revenge on my own frustrations. When I complain about my husband, even only on the inside, because he doesn’t do this or that, I am being fundamentally ungrateful because I disregard all the good and focus only on the negative. I produce a negative stream of thoughts instead of appreciating the blessings God has bestowed upon me.

2) Action

After several weeks of intense meditation to try to radically change my way of thinking, I began to also feel the need for a kind of “tool box” to help me practice on a daily basis. I went about it from two different angles:

  1. A defence strategy against rising anger: setting up avoidance strategies for every situation;
  2. A program of active kindness.

For the first angle, what I came up with were techniques to stifle anger. I knew that stifling anger was the very basis of “field work” against this fault. A reference to this can be found in Words of Truth:

“Just as the remedy for every physical condition lies within our own body, so too does the remedy for every spiritual ailment lie within the soul. For instance, if a person [repeatedly] controls his anger and avoids expressing it, such an approach can eventually resolve his anger altogether.”

(Ostad Elahi, Words of Truth, 149, draft version of the forthcoming English translation [all rights reserved])

  • When I notice that I am starting to raise my voice, instead of allowing it to escalate, make an effort to soften my tone even while continuing my flow of words (they will be much more effective this way).
  • When faced with resistance or inertia: with the children, take the time to explain or have threats of punishments prepared in advance, but express them calmly and with detachment, or do the things that have to be done together: “Come on, let’s all give a hand and it will go faster, and then, we could read a book together!” With my husband, suggest gently: “How about coming to the store with me? We’d get to spend some time together and you can help me with the heavy bags…” instead of saying “I’m sick and tired of breaking my back carrying packs of water! Well too bad, if you don’t get it yourself, there just won’t be any water!”
  • When confronted with the anger of others and their violence: be silent, or walk away without saying anything and wait for it to pass before talking, instead of confronting the person on the spur of the moment.
  • Substitute every surge of irritation with a gentle gesture: it’s quite difficult in the beginning but it is surprisingly effective! It suddenly makes all aggressiveness and opposition melt away.

Experience: At the beginning of this work on “stifling”, I have to admit I felt like I was taking in too much. After a couple of days marked off as successful in my practice diary (that is, my various strategies had worked and incidentally everyone was more relaxed at home), I felt overcome with a sort of depression, akin to a feeling of rather intense apathy. I quickly realized intuitively that there was a link between the state I was in and my struggle. But what link? It seemed as if my imperious self, by a sleight of hand, had made me gone from one extreme to another. Upon further reflection, though, I also believe that while focusing all my efforts on my anger, I had forgotten the reason and the ultimate goal of the whole process, which had to remain spiritual and aimed at divine satisfaction. I remembered B. Elahi’s explanation on this matter in Medicine of the Soul: “If our intention is anything but metacausal we will not be able to receive the required amount of energy, and will consequently either fail to obtain a result, or will obtain only a transient and imbalanced result.” (Bahram Elahi, Medicine of the Soul, Cornwall Books, 2001, p. 39).

It was necessary to do some adjusting and it turned out to be effective too.

For the second angle, I went back to my practice diary and chose a new exercise: every day, do something positive toward my husband. I had noticed that in the case of certain anger outbursts (especially those aimed at my husband), writing these observations down and going over them crystallized them rather than dissipating them. In a way, I was taking revenge on paper by focusing on his weak points. So I decided not to write anything negative anymore and instead put the following into practice: do something nice and pleasant for my husband, even if it is something very small like calling to make an appointment for him at the dentist’s or making him coffee. It had, of course, to be something I was not already doing automatically by habit, and it had to be every day, even if I was downright angry with him.

Here again, a passage from Medicine of the Soul confirmed my choice: “One of the treatment modalities for fighting against excesses or deficiencies within our psychospiritual organism involves repeatedly and persistently confronting the characteristic in question with its opposite until the disequilibrium is eventually resolved and replaced by a permanent equilibrium, i.e., a divine virtue.” (p. 38) The more I progressed in my work and thoughts on this question, the more I became convinced that the opposite of anger is kindness. While anger is a manifestation of an ego wounded by the other, kindness is a welcoming of the other, a consented gift of self that tastes deliciously sweet.

Experience: As part of my practical work, I decided one day to clean out my husband’s closet, something I had not done in over two years because I wanted to make a point that it was not my job to do it. A couple of days later, I said to myself: “To think that he didn’t even thank me! Maybe he didn’t even notice!” But immediately my reason took over and I thought: “Did you do it to be thanked or for divine satisfaction? If you did it for divine satisfaction, it makes no difference whether he noticed or not.” After reasoning with myself for a while (after exactly ten days), I felt truly detached and I told myself that after all, what counted was that the closet in question was tidied up. And after ten days exactly, that very evening, my husband came into my study and said: “By the way, I never thanked you for cleaning up my closet, it’s really pleasant! Thank you, really!” And I felt inside as if an angel was smiling at me…

Self-assessment

As I write these lines, I realize that while the assessment of my practice was inseparable from the practice itself, it is not that simple for me to assess myself as I feel that my work is by no means finished. I am still struggling as I realize that I am still far, very far, from having tackled the whole question. I am still only at the very beginning. And yet, these last three months have taught me a whole lot. I will try to sum it up briefly.

Even if I knew I had this character flaw, the first stage that consisted in reflecting on the question enabled me to determine with greater precision the circumstances in which and the people with whom I lost my temper. Most of all, I found that anger is not an isolated weakness for which fatigue and stress are to blame. It reveals a host of physical, psychological and spiritual weaknesses that I was far from considering when I started out this process. The most important discovery was to realize that I was mainly focused on myself, my ideas, my decisions, my problems, without really making the effort of putting myself in the shoes of others and simply trying to understand them instead of accusing them of wanting to make me suffer. I realized that even though I considered myself a rather helpful person, the fact that I lost my temper when others did not show gratitude was evidence that even when I reached out to others to help them, I was doing it for the sake of my ego and not for divine satisfaction. So the path is still long—parallel to my work on anger itself—to shift my intention in everything I do to divine satisfaction. These last three months really made me aware that this is the “open sesame” of all spiritual work. What I have experienced thanks to this work is that if all our actions were really sincerely done with the intention of divine satisfaction, we would have no more reason at all to get angry, because we would feel neither weak nor helpless anymore, and we would be detached from the result. We would be able to fulfil our duties without recriminations, in a true state of spiritual joy.

In the work that lies ahead of me, I will continue to work on acts of kindness. As much as tackling anger directly was challenging, introducing the work on kindness pretty much changed my life and the way I look at it. I can even say now that it saved my marriage and my family from a crisis situation and extreme tension. It was a blessing, the positive consequences of which I was far from expecting. I learned to do things out of love again, for the joy of making others happy without expecting any thanks. It gave me a kind of warmth and a light inside that I feel shining in me and on those around me. I have to continue steering in this direction at all costs. It is a daily practice, the project of a lifetime. As Ostad Elahi puts it:

“Like honey, we must sweeten our being so that we can always benefit others. Just as honey is saturated with sweetness, we too must dissolve so much goodness and benevolence within us that, like honey, we become saturated with goodness. In general, if we are good and benefit others—that is, if we see what is good, speak what is good, and do what is good—in the first instance we will benefit ourselves, such that we are always happy, and then we will benefit others.”

(Ostad Elahi, Words of Truth, 342, draft version of the forthcoming English translation [all rights reserved])


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19 comments

  1. AV Jan 12, 2017 3:27 pm 1

    Doing things for the sake of “divine satisfaction” reminded me of a friend’s advice who told me once, in dealing with my children to always imagine they are my friend’s children that I am watching after for a short period of time!! Sounds easy but trust me it’s not that easy in real life. Couple of years later I still have very little success following that advice but work is in progress. In the previous article under the comments, someone asked why people thank the author. Since I was one of those who thanked the author I’d like to share why. In my case, I saw myself in every scenario of this article – the part of me that is in denial every day, making excuses to justify my anger. Sometimes when reading others’ experiences things become more tangible. When I read this article it was obvious to me that she spent a lot of time finding a way to systematically fight this weakness. This article had a very positive impact on me spiritually and motivated me to use her technique in fighting with anger and some other weak points I’ve been struggling with for a long time. I feel like I am using the author’s hard work as a tool in my daily life (and for free!) and thanking her is the very least I could do.

    1. A. Jan 13, 2017 5:34 pm 1.1

      >”I saw myself in every scenario of this article”
      Likewise – especially when the author explains how easy it is to end up doing things for one’s ego and not for divine satisfaction.
      Your comment about “dealing with my children to always imagine they are my friend’s children” is simply amazing. One could also think that the friend you are working for is the Source and you are looking after His/Her children. Need to keep this mind

  2. MM Jan 13, 2017 7:29 am 2

    First of all, thank you I will now set a practical work to do something good for my wife 🙂

    I am currently struggling with a colleague at work and since the last post I have started to work on my anger toward this person.
    Since I always react immediately to certain statements of this particular colleague and it ends up with a big discussion, I tried to remind myself of the following in order to calm down: “God is watching you, you should be ashamed of your behaviour”.

    In a meeting we had a few days ago, again my colleague said something and I started arguing, and the above statement did not calm me down. During the meeting I was very upset – why is it that I do not have my ego under control? It was so bad that in the meeting I told everyone “I am so sorry, but I really need to stop talking now as nothing good is coming out of my mouth” and jokingly slapped my face as a sign to stop talking.

    Currently, I feel the same way as the author felt in this article: the feeling of depression.
    So I need to look deep and to ask the question “Are you doing this for divine satisfaction?”

  3. A. Jan 13, 2017 4:16 pm 3

    “… and the whole thing just escalates. … I have conveyed a flawed model of behaviour to my children: brutal reactions instead of calm reasoning.”
    Barely 5 minutes after reading the article and after telling myself that anger was not really my problem, I walked into the kitchen where my 15-year-old was refusing to talk to anyone whilst having breakfast and instead was playing with his iPhone. After three questions that stayed unanswered I vented my frustrations, and became somewhat aggressive. He complained about the way I was interacting with him and the whole thing escalated. So, the obvious takeaway from this is that without the help of the Source we can easily fall, even if a given issue (anger, lack of sincerity…) is not particularly our weak point.

  4. coco Jan 14, 2017 6:26 pm 4

    This article is amazing and has lots of very useful points and information not the least of which is a reminder to ask ourselves “why am I doing this?” Although I certainly know this principle and think divine satisfaction is my motivation I was taken aback as I had to admit to myself that I’m not sure it always is.

  5. cambridge Jan 15, 2017 4:03 pm 5

    I harbor a huge amount of anger, but I don’t ever express it. When I became angry at my husband yesterday, I just stayed quiet and walked away. He asked me what was wrong and all I could say was ‘nothing…I don’t want to talk now’. I didn’t want to talk because I did not think I could control my anger and did not want to fight. Once I calmed down, and came back to the room, he asked me what was wrong, and I still did not want to talk about it, simply because I wanted to move on. How does one fight against this type of passive aggressive anger? I think it is very unhealthy. This is definitely not the only way we have arguments (of course otherwise we would be really unhappy!) but it happens when it comes to small issues. This is a question of balance.

    1. Nana Jan 19, 2017 5:38 am 5.1

      In response to Cambridge:
      I’ve also found that when it comes to small things, my tendency is to not express myself and definitely easier to keep it inside and have a passive agressive attitude. This, as you said, is very unhealthy. In my personal experience, first I tried to find the root cause of what’s holding me back from expressing my frustrations. What I found was that my problem was lack of courage. In any personal, one-on-one confrontation, especially when it has to do with my close family members, I am afraid of creating conflict. So I’ve been working on developing that courage and taking initiative in confronting small issues that create frustrations and anger. The next step I took was correcting my approach in confronting the issues. Instead of expressing my frustration through a critical and judgmental way, as I used to do, I now use a more compassionate approach where I express my perspective and ask for my husband’s perspective, to try to be more understanding and compassionate in my approach. I tell myself that if we truly love our family and want to help each other succeed spiritually, we should be able to courageously express our feelings in a respectful manner, such that it has a positive effect on the other. I’ve also found that if I address small issues sooner than later (in this calm and positive way) then it won’t build up into a larger anger issue…

    2. kbld Jan 21, 2017 12:13 pm 5.2

      @cambridge @Nana
      I’m not sure cambridge’s situation is the direct result of a lack of courage. From my experience, the weak point here is pride. Our ego is so hurt that we, who are so good, would have to suffer because of someone else, that it does not want to give the other person the opportunity to understand and to do better (or even worse, to perhaps explain why we are actually wrong!). Our ego thinks so high of itself that it does not want to lower itself to the level of someone who dared hurting it instead of worshiping it.
      In such a situation, we have to put aside our pride and force ourselves to explain to the other person what the matter is.

      1. cambridge Jan 26, 2017 2:23 am 5.2.1

        Thank you both. I had read your responses and decided to think about this the next time i became ‘passive aggressive’. I have to say that i believe the reasons are a bit of both your ideas. I honestly feel worried like i would be nagging, if i do bring something up. I also feel like i cant be bothered to go through the trouble to explain why i am upset. Very strange. I will work on this balance and report back

        thank you so much for your help and feedback!

  6. Naghme Jan 19, 2017 3:21 am 6

    For the most part of my life, I blamed others for my anger. “If only they wouldn’t do . . .” or “If only they would do. . .” or “If only my husband would be the man I expected, I wouldn’t be so angry. It’s all his fault.” I pleaded with God to change him, to make him the way that my ego wanted! But spiritual practice for years has changed my perspective and I’ve learned that I’m responsible for my anger. When my husband and I were together, my mind started rumbling, “Why did he say such a thing?” or “I can’t believe he did that!” Even when he was directing his action towards others, I was the one who felt angry. If he was rough with someone, I felt bad and would step in to make things better. If he seemed unconcerned about some friends or family, I tried to change the environment. It seemed like I spent a lot of energy trying to make up for what I believed he lacked. I felt angry because it seemed as if I was being put in a bad light.
    Finally, I started a new lab on OstadElahi inPractice “Toward an In Vivo Practice”. While completing the self-diagnosis phase, I asked myself: “What are the things that make me angry with him? Aren’t they small things? Why do I give advice to him or criticize him for trivial reasons? How should I deal with my anger? Is it because I’m sensitive and uptight? Why do I easily get irritated and lose my temper with small daily incidents?”
    I had noticed that I can’t avoid dealing with my anger and sometimes kept the feeling on leash inside myself which eventually led to feeling more depressed. I hadn’t learned how to deal with anger, which made me distant from God. Sometimes I was right to be angry because I had experienced something truly wrong. Then the problem was not the fact that I was getting angry, but how I expressed that anger – I was expressing my anger in the wrong way.
    No one can write the script for me on how to deal with my anger. But every time I notice that I’m getting angry, I review these questions. Then remind myself of this quote from The Path of Perfection: “[s]uccess in marital life requires observance of the following points […]: Each spouse should respect the rights and personality of the other. Each spouse should consider that half of him or her belongs to the other. Neither should hesitate in showing forbearance toward the other and each should try to act in a manner that pleases the other”. (B. Elahi ,The Path of Perfection, page 123.)
    I have learned that, step by small step, real change is happening.

  7. Nana Jan 19, 2017 7:30 am 7

    “If I am not doing something for divine satisfaction, then I am doing it for my ego.”
    This above line is very motivating for me and a great help in my everyday approach with my family. I’m truly grateful to the author for sharing her experiences and then providing such a thorough analysis. I can also relate to many of the challenges relating to family life.

    I would now like to present 2 slightly different views:

    1. Instead of Kindness combating Anger, how about Compassion (in action)?
    I feel that compassion is more inclusive & understanding, and more in line with the golden rule. For example, when I do something nice for my husband, I’m not only trying to be kind, but also trying to be more understanding of the hardships and stresses that he has to face at work, and put myself in his shoes… then when for example he forgets to put the garbage out or load the dishwasher, I won’t get frustrated, and I’d see it as an opportunity to help out. This overall approach, for me, has lead to gratitude. I’m definitely complaining less internally. And have recently realized that the self-pity & depressed feeling that we, as mothers & wives, sometimes get, stems from the ego and imperious self because it does NOT lead to divine satisfaction. But actions that lead to a positive, motivated, and grateful feeling lead to divine satisfaction because it leaves a positive effect not only on ourselves but also on our family.

    2. In dealing with her children, the author mentioned “having threats of punishment prepared…” Why not have motivational “consequences” instead?
    This topic is a bit outside the scope of the “Anger” analysis but does lead to a more positive and calm approach to parenting.
    As a teacher, I’ve taught in several different schools with various approaches to discipling students. And after becoming a parent myself, I am now able to look back at the different strategies and take what works for me, not only as a teacher but most importantly as a parent. I’ve learned that what really works is the positive motivational perspective for children. Of course each child and family is different and the parents know best what approach to take. For my children, I like to create lots of charts and reward systems. Of course there are also “consequences” to learn that every action has a reaction and sometimes it’s not to our liking but it’s always educational (and not labeled as a punishment). If presented in a compassionate and non-judgmental, non-critical way, and from a teamwork perspective, that as a family, we have a duty to help each other succeed…. then it has a very positive effect.
    I used to teach at a school where the students could earn “time-ins” instead of getting “time-outs”. That created a very motivating, warm and loving environment.
    I agree with the author about doing things together as a family. We can also designate jobs, just like how students in school are given responsibilities. One child psychologist wrote that it’s very beneficial for every family member to feel that they are positively contributing to the household and helps children develop their sense of independence. She called it a “family contribution” and not a chore. All this means that first we need to make sure we are organized and disciplined. Creating an “organizational wall” for the family helped in our house. It’s an area on the wall where everyone’s schedule and duties are written out, with daily checklists, etc.
    I feel that this overall approach is a more proactive method in fighting with our imperious self, especially in preventing issues that cause frustration, impatience, and ultimately anger because you already have a system in place. It’s easier then to emotionally detach yourself if an issue arises, because it’s objective.

    Having said that, I still have high expectations of my children, like the author. And for me it steps from my desire to control and micromanage. Because we are so emotionally involved with our family out of love & a sense of responsibility towards them, it’s easy to snap when things don’t go as planned. I have to constantly remind myself that I’m not lowering my expectations and high standards, but that there are other correct approaches, and perhaps even better ones (helps deal with my patience & pride)!

    Another thing that helps, especially in dealing with teenagers’ desires to argue, is remembering Dr. B. Elahi’s point in The Path of Perfection, Chapter 23 on The Education and Upbringing of Children, that one of the important factors is “the parents’ awareness of their own behavior, especially in the case of mothers, since the smallest characteristics of the parents have deep effects on the child’s emotional state.” (page 211)
    If anyone has effective approaches relating to this point, I’d be most grateful.

  8. Sam Feb 13, 2017 12:54 am 8

    Honestly a fantastic article. Your hard work and dedication brought tears in my eyes as I could relate in some way to everything that you said. Sadly, I have been too lazy and weak to do anything about it to the magnitude that you have. Thank you for inspiring me to start doing something against my anger.

    1. Haleh Feb 15, 2017 2:53 am 8.1

      My sincere thanks to the author and commentators for showing me how with will power, systematic and dedicated perseverance together with reliance on your faith, you have managed to fight your weakness. I also admire how you showed step by step how anger can be turned into kindness.

  9. tom Oct 12, 2017 1:19 am 9

    how would you recommend working on forgiving someone? I have been carrying a great deal of anger towards someone for about two years, and it flares up every time I see or interact with that person. I cannot avoid them, and while i am never outwardly angry toward them, i internally feel tremendous anger and frustration.

    1. kbld Oct 17, 2017 8:22 pm 9.1

      @tom
      I think it is best to keep going and not exteriorize these feelings, and try to adjust your intention (have divine satisfaction in mind rather than a merely social goal), and perhaps try, little by little, to be altruistic toward the person. With time, it should have an effect.

      1. tom Oct 18, 2017 1:18 pm 9.1.1

        thank you so much @kbld!

    2. Yan Oct 18, 2017 1:18 am 9.2

      I would recommend watching the following two videos. The second on addresses that very issue.

      https://www.e-ostadelahi.com/eoe-en/pragmatists-and-idealists-a-lecture-by-b-elahi-md-excerpts/

    3. adissam Oct 22, 2017 11:49 pm 9.3

      If you have the book about Malek Jan Nemati, the second page of the “Sayings” part precisely refers to this type of thoughts. The image of the silk handkerchief is a memorable one for me.

      From my experience, it takes time and effort to really cleanse any remaining rancor.
      I’ve mentioned the method I’ve tested in an other comment. https://www.e-ostadelahi.com/eoe-en/this-feeling-of-injustice/#comment-813744. I’d be very interested in knowing what others have tested when confronted with similar thoughts of resentment.

      1. tom Oct 25, 2017 1:40 pm 9.3.1

        thank you @adissam and @yan. I think the resources you have pointed me to are super helpful.

        my struggle is that the negative effects of this person’s behavior (i should say mistakes) are still part of my life, despite the fact that she has also done a great many kindnesses towards me. It’s like my imperious self is just allowing me to get fed up and i forget the good; and it doesn’t help that i still feel the effects of this person’s mistakes. In other words, those acts are in the front of my brain.

        It is such a struggle because this person deserves to be ‘forgiven’. All i can do is continue to show kindnesses and hope that it will become easier.

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