In yesterday’s tip, I said that anger is one form of fear. Today’s workbook lesson begins by saying, “Today we practice differently, and take a stand against our anger, that our fears may disappear and offer room to love.”
What does the Course lesson mean when it says, “Today we practice differently?”
Over the last several lessons, we have been generalizing. For example, we spent a few days focusing on life-presence in everything that we saw. Yesterday we inquired into fear regardless of the form it took. But today we will practice differently by being specific. Today we will look specifically at anger.
Why is this helpful?
The mind thinks in specifics. If you look at the room you are sitting in right now, awareness can immediately be aware of everything the eyes see, but the mind looks specifically. It may think, for example, “I see a chair, a wall hanging, my shoes that I didn’t put away last night, a carpet that needs to be replaced, a wall, a heater vent, …”
As mentioned when we started Gentle Healing, a part of what we are doing is reprogramming the brain. In order to do that, we need to get down to the brain’s level. That is, we need to work in specifics.
So today we will focus on anger.
Depending on your personality, you may experience anger in one way or another. Some people allow themselves to experience outright fury and hatred. Others repress that, so that anger might be experienced as mere annoyance. The first practice of the day will help you tune into your anger, regardless of how you experience it. You are asked to “Select one brother.” Let that one be one that you feel some grievance with, and this will give you a chance to look at your anger.
The lesson asks you to “See his face, his hands and feet, his clothing.” Etcetera. I ask you to go a little further. Look at what angers you about him/her. Let your mind temporarily dwell on those characteristics, but as you do, keep one eye turned inward so that it is looking at your thoughts and noticing they are your thoughts. Let me demonstrate:
I am thinking of Cassie. She is big in size. Tall and over-weight. She smiles all of the time, like she’s happy to be better than everyone else, happy to know more than others know. She talks all of the time as if she’s right about everything. She never listens. Whenever I try to speak, she cuts me off after half a sentence. She thinks she knows what I was going to say, and then she goes on to tell me how I’m wrong. She doesn’t ever listen to me. She’s wrong about everything because she never listens to anyone else. She only knows her point of view, which is extremely narrow-minded. I really don’t like being around her at all.
Okay, now looking back at what I wrote: I see that I focused on her as a body, “tall and over-weight.” From there, I went directly into her smile, and I interpreted its meaning. I decided she smiles because she thinks she is better than everyone else. I see that I believe this. I see that I think I know what she is thinking. I see that I believe I am right. I see that when I look at her in this way, I think I am better than her. I notice that I feel annoyed by how much she talks. That is my anger. I’m also angry that she never listens to me. I must be afraid of something there. What am I afraid of?
Why am I angry at Cassie? Because she talks all of the time as if she is right about everything, and she never listens to me even when I know more than she does.
Why does that bother me? Because I think she should listen to me.
Why does it anger me (scare me) that she doesn’t listen to me? I’m afraid that I am not as valuable or as important as I would like to appear. Maybe I am meaningless, not needed.
Through the process of looking at anger with one person, we can uncover fear thinking that we are identified with. For example, “I’m afraid that I am not as valuable or as important as I would like to appear. Maybe I am meaningless, not needed.”
The lesson asks us to say to this one, “Give me your blessing, holy Son of God. I would behold you with the eyes of Christ, and see my perfect sinlessness in you.”
I ask you to go a little further. Ask yourself, “What is really upsetting me? Is it him/her or is it the thinking that I have just uncovered in my own mind?”
I recommend journaling to look at your thoughts in the way I just demonstrated. I think it is easier to see thoughts clearly when they are written down.
It’s also possible that it will be helpful to journal twice today. Journal once in the morning using the person that came to mind when the lesson said, “Select one brother, …” And then, throughout the day be alert to when you get angry. When it’s convenient, possibly at the end of the day, journal about the times that you were angry throughout the day.
This type of looking is very important to the process of purification. The process of purification is the same as the process of reprogramming the brain. The thoughts you find when you inquire into anger are thoughts that have been believed over and over again. They are well defined in the brain and run automatically whenever an outer situation triggers that line of thinking.
Through careful looking, like I just demonstrated, we uncover background-thinking processes. Through seeing those thoughts and choosing not to believe them again, the brain is reprogrammed. It is brought back to a state that does not include mistaken programming.
This corrected state enables us to perceive with clarity instead of misperceiving through false ideas that are programmed into the brain. That takes us back to how today’s Course lesson began:
“Today we practice differently, and take a stand against our anger, that our fears may disappear (correction of mistaken programming) and offer room to love.”