When you are angry, you are going to notice more things that make you angry. Anger gives you that tunnel vision.
One of the only emotions that I have found that can override anger is disgust. When we are angry, we think our shit doesn’t stink. This is the great illusion. But if anyone has ever caught you on audio tape when you are angry, how did you sound to yourself?
I am betting you felt something like disgust, or embarrassment – a mix of fear , sadness and disgust.
So even though we know this, it is not easy to remember in moments that tend to provoke anger in us.
The other day my daughter held up a mirror to me while I was walking toward her and said,” Look Dad, it looks like you are watching yourself on your own reality show.”
It was funny. I’d love to have that kind of perspective of myself, on the outside looking at myself. I bet I’d avoid a lot of the bad behavior that seem so natural and so right when I am wrapped up in them.
I think that with mindfulness training you can work to build up this capacity to be watching yourself while you are in the moment.
Problem is – mindfulness practice is boring. It is so much easier to just get caught up with stuff and let your brain go into reactive mode rather than stay in re-reactive mode.
Boredom is a form of disgust coupled with anxiety about being understimulated by something.
Confidence to be able to cope with boredom that might arise comes from practice. It is a bit like the slight disgust you might feel cleaning up a mess. It is just more disgusting to leave the mess so you do it. To not practice mindfulness is really a decision to live with the ugliness of anger and other emotions unchecked and often leading to harm. It is disgusting, but since it hasn’t happened yet, the slight disgust of practicing mindfulness now and systematically throughout your day trumps your efforts.
So I think I need help with this.. some Divine assistance with this purification process which requires that I get messy to be less disgusting when it counts. No room for pride here.
A local dairy farmer from my hometown , Louis Escobar, was known to say to his young farm hands who might have hesitated to shovel manure, “If you are afraid of shit, you are shit.”
I can imagine that first day of work for those kids, showing they weren’t shit.. they were more than shit, they were above shit, they could do this shit, shovel shit, and not quit. It gave them a new perspective on themselves, some new ability to step outside themselves and do what it takes.
We need more teachers like Louis Escobar.