Although this day during the 30 Day Challenge is about changing habits, and I give the student the option to skip this whole script and jump to the bottom of that web page to the habit changing process, most don’t. It’s because there’s a huge amount of self confession in this article I wrote about how I dealt with emotions I didn’t even know I had. All I knew was that I had some bad habits and I just couldn’t work out how to PERMANENTLY – that word in italic because I broke all bad habits temporarily hundreds if not thousands of times. I was looking for fast, conscious and sustainable ways to deal with my shit. This is a bit of the trip…
At times in my life I have been very angry. I didn’t think I was angry.. I thought I was depressed, or tired or burned out, or even competitive. I thought I was justified because my Dad was staying at my house and he was driving me nuts. But I never thought I had anger, hate and fear. Why? Because I hated anger, hate and fear. So, I didn’t want to be the one with it. Simply I worked out two ways of dealing with it: Create bad habits to smoother it or swallow it and call it something else, like I said, tired, depressed, exhausted, not invested, bored, sad, alone, – self pity. And I’d created an infrastructure that supported me in that. I think my wife hated anger, hate and fear more than me.
I went to work angry. I caught the bus angry. I talked to people angry. I even nurtured my children from time to time, angry. But I never called it anger, hate or fear. If someone said “are you angry?” I’d say “no way.” There was no way I was going to admit or own it. If I felt anger about something or someone, I’d say they caused it and I was justified because they deserved it. I blamed them. I had no idea. I didn’t even think twice. Nobody challenged me on that. Nobody said “You can fight for things when you are not angry.” or “You can be competitive without anger.” But I didn’t know that. I thought I was right and my anger, hate or fear justified.
But as you’ll see, “I couldn’t give what I haven’t got” If someone made me angry, anger must have already been there” It isn’t what people do that makes us anger, hate or fear, it’s what’s bottled up inside. And, what’s even more miraculous, all our bad habits are associated with what’s bottled up inside and that we blame people for causing us to feel. Let me share a little more about this. I think you’ll find it thought provoking to say the least.
Why is anger associated with bad habits.
99% of all bad habits are driven by anger. I have lived in at least 30 ashrams, and done many retreats in Zen forests, I do know what it feels like not to be angry anymore, albeit temporary (which is why I don’t advocate ashrams and Zen retreats to deal with emotion). I was not angry in an ashram or zen retreat and then came out of it and was angry once the provocation returned to me. But that’s not the key point I’m trying to make here. What I am saying is that once the anger was gone the bad habit was gone. Like a miracle, I stopped wanting things that were bad. I stopped needing things that were bad habits. Addictions vanished. I thought it was the spiritual space and the connection to god or universe that changed my bad habit but it was not. It was being in a place where my anger was not provoked by reality. That, is why it was temporary. That is why the habits returned to me when I came out of meditation or retreat time. I hadn’t dealt with the reaction, so I hadn’t dealt with the trigger and therefore the bad habit was just in a “not needed right now” space. That’s why I searched the world high and low in over 500 American workshops from all sides of the country from love and self to co dependance and power and all the great teachers. Until I found a process that could fix the cause of a bad habit.
Anger was my bad habit. when shit went wrong I got angry and when I was angry I didn’t like it. So when I was angry and didn’t like it, I didn’t like myself and then the scotch whiskey after work became three, and the lady down the corner became attractive, and my home became a prison and the kids became annoying. I was not a bad man, I just had anger and I had a big big judgement on angry people so when I got angry I hid it or so I thought. But in hiding it, I needed to survive holding onto shit and reactions to people and things so I got habits. Those habits were addictive. And even when the anger went away, sometimes the habit was still there because the anger left but I still hated the guy who had it, me. So the need for bad habits surpassed the temporary point and became me. I hated the angry me, even when I wasn’t angry at something and was hiding it, I was angry at the guy who could get angry.
So, that is why, in this piece of the 30 Day programme I have included anger, hate and fear as a key element of dealing with bad habits because I’ve worked with many thousands of people with bad habits and they mostly had anger, or hate, or fear in their core and the bad habit was not actually the problem they needed to fix. It was the self abuse – self dislike – the lack of self respect that was at the core of the habit. So, I did the Walker thing, I cut to the chase, went to the core of it, and in a few short minutes dealt with the core issues – not the triggers, but the self respect for the feelings of anger, hate and fear.
You Can’t Eliminate A Trait
You might think I’m a bit crazy. But anger, hate and fear are meant to be inside a human soul. Everyone has them, most people haven’t been beaten by an alcoholic step mother or strapped by a raging father until they passed out like me. So most people don’t have the rage inside about violence and therefore don’t have the issues that I had to deal with. But everyone has anger, hate and fear however, they just accept that in themselves and don’t get a radio active point inside themselves when someone else does that anger, hate or fear. That’s what I searched for in all the ashrams and zen retreats and all the counselling and all the workshops I did and all the shamanic process I did. I was looking to eliminate anger, hate and fear. But one day in one workshop the teacher said “we all have every trait” – so the elimination of the trait wasn’t the issue was it. It was the love of the trait. I got to love anger, hate and fear and then the habits went away because I no longer abused myself for feeling anger, hate or fear. I accepted, felt thankful and loved those qualities in me first, then I loved them in others and then I was no longer triggered by it. They are still here. My mates, anger, hate and fear. They visit from time to time. I welcome them with open arms. They are teachers. They are my brothers and sisters inside my heart. I love them enough not to cut them off. Instead I welcome and love them as much as I welcome and love my compassion and kindness.
By loving a quality it is no longer in need of a bad habit to eliminate it. So, the habits are gone. The acceptance is complete at the level that I feel it right now. Because I love that part of me, because I welcome that part of me I can tap into it and rather than repress or express it I can embrace it and therefore use it in totally sophisticated ways, like as determination and courage to write this article so early in the morning. Or to have the strength to deal with a spinal column that’s collapsed onto two nerves, or to handle the neighbours who forget they are in a neighbourhood community. I can take that anger, hate and fear and use it to act with poise and grace and love. It is energy, it is life force and when I threw it away in those earlier ashrams and retreats and tried to live a life without anger, hate or fear, I spent my life avoiding things that triggered it. That’s like spending my whole life running from situations, running from success, running from people who made me feel anger, hate or fear, which is half the world. So, that’s not living. That’s slow suicide because 50% of the world is going to trigger my anger hate or fear and running from it is not really a realistic option. Even though the meditators or the peace on earth people think it is so they live in huddles and hate the enemy and call it spiritual.
My anger, hate and fear are here. They wrote this article with me. They helped me be honest. They helped me say things I, in my ego, would rather deny. But anger, hate and fear are good mates because when the going gets tough, and I don’t let them take over the ship and run my experiences, they add a certain flavour to my life that I love. They give me strength to be silent. Courage to have and stick to a daily routine, they give me subtle warnings when I’ve become infatuated. I don’t need the habits to deal with things about myself that I love.
So, how do I know what I don’t love about myself? It’s just so easy and obvious. If I don’t love it, accept it, see the benefit of it in others, another person, on the news, in the street, in my home, then, for sure, I don’t love it in me. These hot buttons that get pushed, are not to be eliminated. When I eliminated anger, hate and fear and became vegan, peaceful and anger less, I became a pacifist, I couldn’t ask for what I wanted, I couldn’t hold silence in my tongue, I couldn’t be patient when someone was in my heart, wrong. I didn’t have the strength to handle a breakup or a business slap.
But now, I can handle situations because I love anger, hate and fear and therefore I do not have to express those qualities to the world nor repress them and develop addictions to enable me to live with myself and those hated qualities. This is freedom and in some ways, the key to great relationships and loving work. Anger, hate and fear are not my enemies, they are energies that, when refined through acceptance, can give me the essential nature to be available and, most importantly never express my anger, hate or fear in its rawest and most disruptive form.
It’s a sort of determination. And it’s a sort of tolerance. And it’s a sort of patience. It’s certainly the power behind empathy and it’s definitely a respect for someone else’s reality. I guess ultimately, anger, not expressed physically ends up looking like love, eliminating the idea that we are right and “they” are wrong. Anger, fear and hate and my mates. And with finesse, and friendship within me, they become my back bone. And nothing is missing it just changes form. So right now, without the strength in my physical spine, and unable to walk far, my anger, fear and hate mates, give me the love and energy and commitment to write a great post, for this day, Australia day, 2016.