Are you angry at yourself? Some of you may respond "no" while others may recognize that you do carry anger towards yourself. For those of you who responded no, I would encourage you to look deeper and see if perhaps you are not telling yourself the truth... Yet, even with acknowledging the presence of anger, do we realize the depth and extent of the anger we carry?
Anger comes disguised in many forms. It presents itself in easily recognizable forms such as resentment, ranting and raving, and blame. But it also is behind such feelings as impatience, envy, guilt, judgment, self-pity, low self-esteem, and more.
Envy: Another Form of Anger?
Let's look at envy. When we envy someone we desire we had what they have. Whether it is love, money, material possessions, family, friends, a better job, etc. Yet, why are we envious? You might say the obvious reason is that we envy them because we don't have what they have. True. Yet, we then need to ask ourselves is "Why don't we have what they have? Why don't we have the better job, better relationship, material abundance, more friends, etc.?" We don't have those things because for some reason we have either pushed them away, chosen not to go the extra mile to get them, or don't think we deserve them.
And that is where the anger comes in. While it may look like we envy the other person(s), we are really angry at ourselves for not having what they have. While this may seem like a "bad" thing, it is actually the first step in getting what you want. If you were simply envious of the others, you would be looking outwards saying things like "They're so lucky to have that" and not seeing that all of this, and more, is possible for you as well. The self-anger shows that you are aware that you too could have those things.
Anger at Self?
The next step to you manifesting those same blessings in your life is to look at yourself and see why you don't have them -- because there is no reason for you not to have them -- unless you have decided not to have them! And that is the key. Many times we may bemoan our fate because we don't have "whatever", but when we take the risk to look deep within we see that, for some reason, we don't really want those things. Now the reasons may come out of an unbalanced belief system, but unless we look deep within ourselves, we will never find out the truth.
Maybe you complain at not having found "Mr." or "Ms." Right, but deep down you: 1) don't believe such a person exists, 2) believe that even if they exist they would not want to be with you, and 3) don't believe that it is possible for you to be in a happy and balanced relationship. Now tell me, with those beliefs, will you ever attract and keep the "person of your dreams"? This same reasoning to you not having the job you want, the money you want, the friends you want, etc.
And there again the anger at self comes in. You're angry at yourself because (in the above situation) you can't find, attract, keep, or even believe in Mr. (or Ms.) Right. You're angry because you're not "doing what it takes" to have what you want. Deep down we usually believe that if something is going wrong in our life, it's our fault. Even if we complain and blame everyone else around us, there's a part of us that believes that "it's our fault". Thus, again, the self-anger.
Being Angry for the "Right" Reason?
So where do we go from there? After having recognized that we are angry at ourselves, we can 1) forgive ourselves for not being perfect, the way we think we "should" be; 2) see if we are angry for the "right" reason or the "wrong" reason. What is the right reason? Perhaps we are angry at ourselves because we are not doing what we "know" we could be doing to create the life we want. We are angry at ourselves because we do know the "way out" of our situation, but don't want to take the trouble to do it. We are angry at ourselves for not believing we deserve better.
So, is this being angry for the "right" reason? Actually not, since of course, there is no right reason to be angry at ourselves, but often we believe that the anger will motivate us to change. Yet we see, again and again, in ourselves, in children, as well as in adults, that anger does not motivate change. It motivates rebellion, more anger, and shutting down our heart. Anger breeds more anger, more fear, more resentment, more negativity, etc.
So when you see the reason you're angry at yourself, then forgive yourself... Of course you're not perfect... What is perfect anyway? Some concept that we've adopted of who we "should" be. Of course it is good to have a role model or a goal we are striving for, but it is not good to punish ourselves for not being that "enlightened being"... it is not helpful to be angry at ourselves for not "winning the daily race of life". When a runner loses a race, there may be disappointment and maybe some anger at self for not having tried harder, but then the only way to win the next race is to leave the anger behind and just do something different that what got you to the finish line after your targeted goal. If you keep doing things the same way, you'll get the same results. So rather than being angry at yourself, do something differently that will help you attain your goal.
Anger as a Roadblock to Success
It is the same with life. You win some, you lose some. Actually, every day, we win some, we lose some... but that is simply the process of learning, of experiencing all the choices and facets of life. When you were a child and learning to walk, to speak, to communicate, you didn't get it "right" the first time... but you didn't give up, you didn't get angry at yourself and say "I'll never get it right". No, you kept going, and tried again, and again, and again. And finally you attained the goal: you learned how to walk and how to talk.
So it is with the things we desire... whether they be material things, or behavioral traits, or spiritual realization. We may not get it the first time, or the second, or even the third, but we must keep persevering. Anger at ourselves will only delay our attaining the goal... because in our mind, whatever we are angry at deserves punishment, not reward... So the anger will only delay reaching the goal...
An interim step, and an essential one, in reaching your goal is to drop the anger towards self (and others), and start accepting where you are and where others are. No one is perfect, and we are all learning. Give yourself the space to make mistakes (we all make them), but then give yourself the space to try again and get it right eventually. Carrying anger at yourself keeps the door closed to whatever it is you desire.
Look at yourself at being both parent and child. Does the parent give the child what they want when they're angry at them? Not usually, and if they do, they give it with begrudgingly, with anger. Don't put yourself in that situation. Forgive yourself for whatever it is you're angry about. So what if you're not perfect? There is no such thing as being perfect. We are all changing constantly, evolving, becoming more of what we are.
Do you get angry at an acorn because it is not yet an oak? Do you get angry at a six month baby because it cannot speak in complete, grammatically correct sentences? Of course not! So then, why are you angry at yourself for not yet being the "self-realized" being that you know you can and will become. You are a fledgling oak tree -- maybe still an acorn, maybe only a foot tall, still growing... but an oak tree you still are. In time, you will be strong, firm, stable, and balanced. But time is what it will take. No oak tree has "become itself" overnight... it took time for the acorn to grow into a full oak tree.
So it is with us. It takes time for us to grow into a fully realized Self. But if we beat ourselves up and punish ourselves, constantly "giving ourselves a hard time", then we'll have a much harder time getting to our goal.
Be happy with yourself at whatever stage of your experience you are... Whether you are still in the seed stage, sprout stage, small weak seedling stage, you are on your way to becoming that "mighty tree".
Be patient with yourself, be gentle, be kind, and most of all, be loving and accepting of wherever you are on the journey of life. There is always another day to keep growing, to keep "becoming" who you really are... You are the seed of a truly Divine Being... Just keep going, keep growing, keep giving yourself more of what you need to grow... patience, acceptance, and unconditional love.
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Beyond Happiness: The Zen Way to True Contentment
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About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com