Lately, I’ve been struggling with unpredictable bursts of anger. The littlest thing can set me off and, afterwards, I’m left wondering what it was all about. This has led me to consider “where are my emotions happening?”. This may sound like a strange question but the consideration of it is helping me quite a bit. Let me explain…
Behind the bursts of anger
When I have a burst of anger, it seems to come from nowhere. I can be going along really well, trying to live life as I know it can be lived now (being loving, peaceful and joyous) and then BAM, something very small completely changes my mindset and I feel like attacking people (only verbally!) and blaming them for the apparent difficulties in my life. It’s a very sudden and surprising thing.
Luckily these episodes are short lived. When they are over and I look back on them, I often can’t even see what the issue was at all that got me started. It’s possible to analyse these episodes as the ego fighting for survival (see Victim of a Powerful Ego) and I believe this is a true and valid explanation. Here, I am more interested in viewing these episodes in a different way. I’d like to consider where my emotions are happening?
Where are my emotions happening?
I’ve realised that my anger outbursts, my extreme emotions, are happening on a backdrop that does not include anger. Normally anger is not there. Anger is only a temporary visitor.
So where is it that anger is visiting? What is there when anger is not around? What is the backdrop?
In very simple terms, my natural state is peacefulness (as it is for everyone). Most of the time I feel peaceful. I’m most content when I’m at peace. This must be the constant backdrop.
Very close to the state of peacefulness are the states of love and joy. Most of the time I am loving and joyful. I’m most content when I’m loving and joyful.
When I get a burst of anger, it interrupts the peace, love and joy backdrop for a while and then it disappears and I return to the normal state of peace, love and joy. This answers the question of where are my emotions happening. They are happening on a backdrop of peace, love and joy.
Peace, Love and Joy
When I think about this a bit more, I realise that peace, love and joy are always there, always possible. Anger just covers them up for a while. It doesn’t replace them.
Peace, love and joy seem to be constants. They are actually infinite. That’s true isn’t it? We can never reach a point where we say “sorry, there’s no more peace left” or “sorry, I’ve run out of love now and I can only hate you” or “sorry, that would normally make me really happy but I’ve used up all my joy”. These all sound ridiculous. Peace, love and joy are all infinite.
If peace, love and joy are the constant (eternal?) backdrop to our lives and they are infinite, then it’s highly likely that this is a good clue to our origins. It’s highly likely that we originate from a place of infinite peace, love and joy. Further, it’s highly likely that the bursts of anger are illusions, something that isn’t real.
We can never reach a point where we say “sorry, there’s no more peace left”
I believe that the ego’s we have created are threatened by peace, love and joy (see Victim of a Powerful Ego). The ego is something we’ve built up during our lives. It is a wrong impression of who we are that exists in our minds. The wrong impression of the ego is often comprised of a belief that we are sick, limited, bad, sinful, or something along those lines. When we start to realise that we truly come from a place of pure peace, love and joy, the ego is threatened because it would have to admit that its impression of us really is wrong and the ego is unnecessary.
It’s interesting to note that peace, love and joy are always options. In every situation, even when things are extremely bad, we can always chose peace, love and joy as our response. Many of the worlds spiritual teachers have demonstrated this to us.
Dealing with my emotions
It’s a big deal to realise that we originate from a place of perfect peace, love and joy. That tells us more about who we really are than anything else. I try and remind myself of this as often as I can throughout the day. When the world’s distractions and situations grab hold of my attention, I try to choose peace, love and joy as soon as I can. I try to go back to this natural, comfortable state. I can’t say I’m good at this, but I’m getting better.
It’s also interesting to acknowledge that every single person on Earth is capable of peace, love and joy. Everyone. Even people who torture, murder and start wars. Everyone is capable of peace, love and joy. Everything else that we see from them is really just an illusion created over the top of the reality of peace, love and joy.
If we can recognise the capacity for peace, love and joy in everyone else in the world, and acknowledge there immeasurable value because of that, then we are on the fast track to finding the same qualities within ourselves.
Now we close the loop by realising that self-love is the recognition of the capacity for peace, love and joy within ourselves, and the acknowledgement of the great power from which this derives. No matter how bad we think we are, the capacity for peace, love and joy is at our core and we all are immeasurably valuable because of that.
I realise that my emotions are happening on a backdrop of peace, love and joy. I also realise that many of the transient emotions like anger are not real. They are illusions of some sort. When I notice these rouge emotions invading my space, I try to choose peace, love and joy again as soon as possible.
I’m making some modest progress in the quest for constant peace, love and joy, and I’ll keep going one step at a time. I think this might be the most important challenge in my life.