Last Thursday I went to my Dr’s again. I still haven’t kicked whatever is making me ill. While in the Dr’s office, a man was there getting vitamin C intravenously. He had cancer. I told him that I ‘wanted to kill’ whatever was making me sick – the bacteria or virus that were in my body. He told me that he didn’t want to kill the cancer his body, he just wanted to be able to co-exist with it, and so far that was happening. ‘I’m just angry,’ I responded.
It’s all in that story. Everything I need to confront; what we all need to look at. My anger and negative thinking directed towards the cause of my illness isn’t helping me. It doesn’t make me feel better. Yet the idea of sending these organisms love feels challenging.
I currently practice several meditations that are about love and gratitude. Whether I am actively focusing on feeling gratitude, or on acknowledging that which is divine in others or myself, I can feel my energy shift. I step into a new and much more beautiful place. But I cannot sustain that feeling or attitude when I am in a challenging situation – like when I feel sick and am physically limited – or when something else occurs that feels as if it ‘should’ not be happening.
Yet, I know everything that occurs in my life is a teacher for me. I just need to understand what I am to be learning and allow all of my feelings to flow. Getting stuck in anger does not help me.
This dilemma got me thinking about parts. As a therapist, working with parts has been both fun and very natural. We all have different parts that emerge in different situation. Unfortunately, sometimes we are ‘stuck’ in certain parts because we haven’t developed other aspects of ourselves that would allow us a bigger and truer perspective.
For example, right now, I’m privy to a business situation where one partner is attempting to push the other partner out. I’ve thought about this person’s character, and the part of himself that he has identified with that has allowed him to act in this way. This person feels entitled, resentful and unappreciated. I ‘should’ get more because I deserve it, because I got what I needed from you and you aren’t useful to me anymore. I should because you don’t acknowledge me the way I wish to be acknowledged, because I believe my contribution is more important than yours.
It’s the age-old story of betrayal and manipulation, the desire for power and self –aggrandizement. Like illness and disease, corruption is also part of the history of our world. It’s what happens every day when we devalue those who work for us, or try to make money at another’s expense and a million other scenarios. It is the opposite of ‘I – Thou,’ the connecting and honoring of two souls and is the epitome of ‘I-It,’ the use of one by another.
What happened to the part of this man that feels love and the desire to give to others? When did things get so unbalanced that it became all about Me, Me, Me? True leadership is about enabling the growth of others. It is being of service. The self-seeking aggrandizement part is a child, unable to truly nourish others.
Underneath my anger at not feeling well there is fear. What if I don’t get better? What does my life mean if I have to accept limitations that I don’t want to accept? And underneath this man’s narcissism is also fear. What if I am not really good enough? And shame – I have to be special, because deep down, I don’t know if I am valuable. I don’t know if I am okay. If we don’t access these deeper voices or ‘parts,’ we become locked in limited lives, smaller renditions of who actually could be. And we may not even know it.
In our intimate relationships the same thing frequently occurs. In our frustration at our needs that are not being met, we begin to feel anger and dissatisfaction. We blame. We strike out. We pull back. Our sense of disconnection grows over time. And under our dissatisfaction is fear and shame. Am I loveable? Am I enough? Ultimately, we must learn to connect with each other and honor each other – differences and all – or we are left to part ways or endure life without a relationship that nourishes us.
But back to me. I have a challenge on my hands and in my heart. Can I make peace with my condition? I may never be able to exert myself physically the way I loved to when I was younger, but each chapter of our lives is different. We have different learnings, different struggles, and different accomplishments. For me, I wish to find a way to both stand up for myself and protect myself – whether against stealth bacteria or against people who don’t have my own best interest at heart – while also not spending my energy generating hatred. I wish to be able to choose love. I wish to be able to say no, I will not let you take me over, while also standing in peace and gratitude for that which I do have and for the lesson at hand.
It is a tricky balance. Anger can serve us incredibly. It allows us to stand up for ourselves and protect ourselves. It is such an important emotion. But it can also pollute our psyches. It can pull us right out of or block our feelings of gratitude and appreciation.
I want to be able to protect myself, hold my boundaries, without losing my equanimity, my ability to generate the feelings of gratitude and appreciation. I don’t want to let difficulty turn me into a small person lost in anger.
But I am bigger than these feelings. Ultimately I can choose which feelings I generate and which attitudes I hold. I can do the work needed so that I have a big perspective – and so can you.