Taking responsibility for your anger begins with a willingness to acknowledge your part in the situation. When our way of life is no longer serving us, we realize it may be time to do something different and consider that there must be another way. This does not mean we are doormats and let people walk all over us; there is a place and time for righteous anger or the right use of anger. This righteous anger is actually an extension of love to reduce the suffering of others.
The wrong use of anger that arises is when when we misperceive what the other person did and constantly judge who is right or wrong, which simply reinforces our victim identity and keeps us in duality. It is much easier to focus on other people’s mistakes rather than look at our own. It is necessary to realize that we are responsible for ourselves and our actions and that we cannot control other people or circumstances, but we do have the power to change our mind about them. The best way to end an argument is to stop trying to prove you are right. As it says in A Course in Miracles, “Do you prefer to be right or to be happy?”
Forgiveness is the Key to Happiness
As part of the human experience, we do not deny that we feel or experience anger, to do so would be to repress the anger. To feel our feelings is healthy, but to act on these angry thoughts causes harm to both you and those around you. Anger that simply arises when we judge that someone is wrong and you feel attacked triggers negative reactions. You may feel tempted to act quickly, but when you cultivate mindfulness and slow your mind down, you realize you have a choice even though it does not feel like you do. You always have a choice—whether to react in the same way you have been, or see that there must be another way, which is the start of responding differently. This training requires effort and is easier said than done.
An individual has the power to choose what to believe and what not to believe. By cultivating a meditation practice and becoming more aware of your angry thoughts, you can choose whether or not to identify with them. Like fear, anger is an internal behavior that occurs only in your mind. Cultivating a meditation practice includes a willingness to come back to being in the present moment.
When you give infinite compassion to others for their mistakes, you invoke infinite compassion for your own. You cultivate mercy for your own mistakes when you forgive other people for theirs and accept them simply as they are. By cultivating mindfulness, you are better equipped to discern that our wrong use of anger is actually hurting us as well as those around us and you can start taking responsibility for your actions and no longer deceive yourself by blaming others for our unhappiness. Moment to moment, you have a choice—and it is always up to you.