In my course “A New School Approach to Anger in the Family,” I have concentrated a great deal on the dynamics of anger, how our own thoughts cause our anger, how our own thoughts create the pain that underlies our anger, and how we need to be able to communicate with those we are angry at or who are angry at us. Bruised and hurt ego, the “little me,” and the thought patterns it identifies with, are the source of both our anger and the underlying pain, since we take things personally that are said and done to us.
I have stressed in this course that we cause our own pain and our own anger at others, and that these are rooted in our expectations and our interpretations of others’ behavior toward us. Although I realize this is not a position that is easily adopted by everyone, I am convinced that there is real self-empowerment in this position. In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz urges us (as one of the agreements) to take nothing personally. I wholeheartedly subscribe to this counsel, and I encourage all of you to give this wonderful little book your serious consideration.
At the same time, I also recognize that it is true that we have all been hurt by others in very real ways that are not simply insults that we have taken personally when we didn’t need to do that. The hurt inflicted may have been intentional or not intentional, recent or long ago, physical, emotional, or financial, or any number of other possibilities. For this reason, it is imperative that in any course on anger we consider the mysterious and perhaps scary topic of forgiveness. Continue reading