(10.40) I’m Angry That ________!

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10/40
From the desk of Rabbi Brian

I am angry that _______!

Infants lying in their cribs get angry from time to time.

I’ve seen this happen with both my children. As tiny babies, laying in their bassinets, they cycled in emotions ranging from content to amused to angry.
When either child was angry, I went through a mental checklist, asking
myself, “Is s/he hungry, tired, or needing to be changed?” When either
child laughed, I wondered, “What is s/he laughing about?”

Both children experienced emotions that could not be directly tied to a specific external event that was causing them.

This is a radical concept.

If it’s true for little ones, it implies that we too might have emotions for no apparent reason.

This, as you know, is quite opposite from the way we are used to thinking about it.

I’ve
been observing this concept in action for at least three years (since
Emmett was an infant), and I believe in it enough to share it with you
all.

Maybe, just maybe, our emotions come around, and then later we attach a story to them.

Let me provide an example of this:

About
six months ago I lay in bed feeling really frustrated. I found myself
going through a virtual Rolodex of reasons to explain why I might have
been feeling that way. Finally, I found a possible reason: a company had
promised to send me a rebate after I purchased some of their
merchandise, and this rebate was never paid to me. But then I thought,
“Perhaps I’m frustrated simply because I’m frustrated…no other
reason.” Of course, that’s precisely why I had been going through the
mental Rolodex – to find a valid cause for my frustration. The real
cause was that I just happened to be frustrated.

Think
about it this way. Sometimes we’ll get really angry at something, but
in a different situation, we don’t get angry at that same thing. Why is
that? Why do we exhibit emotions almost arbitrarily? It’s because the
mood we’re currently in, dictates how we react in any given situation. Moods happen.

We like to think we’re in control of the world and that we can control our own moods.

Perhaps sometimes we can. Perhaps, other times, we can’t.

Think about the most recent thing you were mad about. Now, can you remember what you were feeling before you got mad at that? What I’m suggesting is that you might have just been mad and then ‘pinned’ the anger on this thing.

Aristotle
once said: “Anyone can be angry, but to be angry at the right person at
the right time for the right reason, that isn’t as easy.”

What I want to suggest is that sometimes you are just angry. There isn’t always a particular reason why you feel that way.

This is wonderful news. Why?

The
more you can embrace this idea, the smoother/easier your life will be.
If you get angry at the wrong person at the wrong time for the wrong
reason, think of all the negative ripples that occur as a result. We’ve
all been on the receiving end of someone’s tirade – and perhaps this
person was angry at us for the wrong reason, or for no reason at all.

This notion, of course, runs counter to spurious notions offered by prosperity theologians who suggest we create our world based on our thoughts. We don’t.

The
next time you find yourself feeling an unpleasant emotion, think about
what state you were in prior to experiencing that emotion.

Spiritual-religious advice for this week: notice when your emotions appear to be unrelated to any specific cause.

 


 

With love,

Rabbi Brian

Rabbi Brian

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