“Anger ventilated often hurries towards forgiveness; anger concealed often hardens into revenge.”— Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton
We’ve seen a lot of crazy, horrible events lately—Orlando, Dallas, Istanbul— and my students often ask me, “Why is this happening? And what can we do about it?”
Well, the simplest (and most honest) response is that it’s happening because we are creating it. To paraphrase Gandhi, you and I are the change we are seeing in the world.
Before you jump all over me, I know you probably don’t own an arsenal of AK-47’s fully loaded with the intent to shoot up a dance club. If you’re the type of person who reads articles like this, you probably don’t beat your spouse or throw bricks through your neighbors’ windows. I doubt we’ll see your mug shot on the nightly news for murdering police officers.
Yet I can almost guarantee that you are spreading the energy of anger in your world. How do I know? Because I’ve done it.
Let me give you an example by telling a story on myself and my war with the TSA. Many years ago when my son was just 5 years old, he and I were traveling. I was randomly selected to be searched and, because my son Ethan was with me, they said he had to be searched as well. They wouldn’t let me talk to him to explain but pulled him aside and started patting him down. He was frightened and crying and, as a dad, I was furious.
After the incident, I thought I had let it go. But I continued to tell the story and feel indignant every time. I told sarcastic jokes about TSA agents in my trainings. And every time I headed to the airport—I take an average of 85 flights every year— I’d feel myself getting grumpy and irritated about the hassle I was sure I would find in the security line.
A few years later, I got pulled up short. A parent at my kids’ school, a woman I really admire and respect, showed up to pick up her daughter in a TSA uniform! I was stunned that she was one of the people I’d been disliking for so long. She and I talked about it then she said, “You know, it’s tough for some of us. Imagine going to work, and for eight hours, people show up and they already hate you, and they’ve never met you. How would you like that?”
It was painfully clear to me in that moment that I’d been inflicting my attitude, my unreleased anger, on all those innocent people who were merely trying to earn a living. I was spreading the energy of anger, distrust and disrespect. That fact that I’d found many others who felt the same way about TSA and supported me in my attitude didn’t change the fact that I was being someone I don’t want to be. I was creating negativity in myself and spreading it far and wide.
After talking with the woman from my kids’ school, I went home and got serious with my ho’oponopono process, asking forgiveness and releasing the initial incident as well as the many incidents that had followed (that my rotten attitude undoubtedly created). Since then and for the past several years, I’ve had a great relationship with TSA. Several of the agents even remember my name and greet me when I travel. As I was being patting down recently, I got agent laughing so hard that he collapsed to the ground and had to ask another agent to complete the search!
This is the kind of energy I want to spread in the world.
So let me ask you: Where are you spreading the energy of anger? Is it in the political arena? Are you sending hate and disrespect to one candidate or the other, one party or the other? Is it in traffic? Are you cursing every tailgater, every speeder? Is it at work? Are you constantly pissed off at management or customers? If you look carefully, I’m certain you’ll find some areas where you’ve held onto your anger or irritation (unless, of course, you’re the Dalai Lama). And just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean that it’s healthy or good.
“But, Matt, I’m not rude about it. I keep the way I feel to myself.”
No, you don’t.
Whether you come at it from a spiritual perspective or quantum physics, the truth is that we are all within the one field of energy. The energy of our emotions doesn’t stay encapsulated within our bodies but oozes out to affect others.
Think about walking into a room where there’s an intense meeting going on. You may have no idea what’s happening but you can sure feel the tension. Or how about meeting someone for the first time who, though they smile and say something polite, you just know they are uncomfortable or upset.
Our emotions and energy do make an impact on our world. It doesn’t matter what you’ve chosen to stay angry about, your energy of anger spreads out and contributes to the overall undercurrent of anger.
By the way, there was nothing wrong with my anger in that very first incident where my five-year old son was patted down. Anger in the moment is healthy. It’s a signal that our boundaries are being crossed and anger can be a call to appropriate action. But anger long after the incident, anger that festers and spreads and builds on itself is the anger that can turn explosive and destructive.
Byline: Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership, the world’s leading integrative personal development company for over 30 years. Author of several books, Dr. Matt has trained thousands of students towards excellent health and personal empowerment using Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna, and Mental Emotional Release® (MER®) therapy. You can keep in touch with Dr. Matt on Facebook and find out more about a variety of topics on his blog www.drmatt.com