Compassionate Anger Transformation

I am grateful to Conal Elliott for the heart-open, heart-closed model of connecting with our universal human needs, to (I)An-ok Ta Chai for sharing her work and asking the question, and to Marshall Rosenberg for the gift of his work in Nonviolent Communication.

Have you noticed that when you behave and communicate in anger, you are less likely to get what you want? You would probably prefer to respond to anger in a way that results in reconciliation, healing, peace, and harmony. Anger is a compound made up of feeling(s) and thought(s). The following approach is offered to empower you to separate the components of this compound and harvest these gifts.

Step One – Anger alert. As soon as you notice anger in your heart, say, “My heart is closed right now. I must go and open it.” And then go. As you go, ask, Is my heart open, or is my heart closed? Whatever the answer, promise your heart that you are holding it with care.

Step Two - Connect with your intention. Are you enjoying your anger? If you are, then take a “time out” and enjoy your anger! If you are not, then continue.

Step Three - Identify your thoughts. Are you telling yourself that you are right or good, or what you want, need, deserve, or should do? Are you telling yourself that the other is wrong or evil, or what (s)he wants, needs, deserves, or should do? Stay still and silent and adopt an attitude of intense curiosity. Accept whatever comes up without censorship or clinging.

Step Four - Examine your thoughts. Repeat the thoughts you identified in Step Three, and ask again after each one, Is my heart open, or is my heart closed? If your heart is open, take that thought off the list. If your heart is closed, carry that thought forward for further processing.

Intermission – Now it’s time to slow down, breathe, and celebrate the work you’ve done so far. Taking the first four steps as quickly as possible will restore safety and balance, but it is important to take your time as you continue the process. When you are ready, offer yourself a choice about how to proceed. For example, if you would enjoy processing privately, then you might choose to meditate or go for a walk. If you would enjoy processing during heart connection with another, then you might choose to talk with a friend or mentor.

Step Five - Translate your thoughts into feelings and needs. For example, one feeling often found underlying anger is fear, and it might be pointing to an unmet need for power. Whenever you notice yourself slipping into Step Three thinking, return the focus gently but firmly to your own thoughts, feelings, and needs. Ask yourself after each item, Is my heart open, or is my heart closed? If your heart is open, you have fully connected with your feelings and needs. If your heart is closed, there are deeper feelings and needs to be found. For each thought still on your “charged” list, use your creativity and imagination to find a different feeling and/or a deeper need. When your heart remains open as you address each item and your inner peace and harmony is restored, you are ready to proceed.

Step Six - Healing and reconciliation. When you see the other with unconditional positive regard, you are ready to engage in empathic dialog. If you are not comfortable or confident about doing this, ask a third party who was not involved in the stimulus incident to hold the space. This works best if this third person is equally known or unknown to each party.

When you both have open hearts and there is peace and harmony between you, celebrate!


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I thank you for your comments on my fellow veteran who lost both of his legs. This is the problem with some Veterans. when in a emotional stress like this man was experiencing his reaction could have been either good or bad. They say that 75% of all the service men & women are coming back with PTSD. Yes I thought of reaching out to this young man but he might just have told me I don't understand. when someone experiences a loss like this veteran you are not sure if he is a ticking time bomb so to say. Yes I also suffer greatly from PTSD. It took the government 6 years to finally diagnose me. Since my PTSD is because of an accident (not combat related) they have no treatment for me. I now live my life on a government pension. I can only descibe myself by the movie RAMBO. Many Veterans are diappointed with the Department of veterans affairs. Just last week at the VA hospital in Temple Texas it was in the newspaper that there was a VA employee who was quoted on the internet saying to deliberately misdiagnose people with PTSD to less expensive rating like personality disorder. This is the closest VA hospital to crawford Texas I believe its about 30 miles away. many people do not know the reality of what war brings out in people who engage in it. It is a nightmare so to say

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