Angus and I talk about not trusting your thinking when it is stirred up. In relationships, this is so helpful for avoiding conflict and hurt. Simply not trying to work things out when one or both partners is upset makes relationships a whole lot more graceful. I know because I learned the hard way.
Somehow, however, not trusting our thinking can be translated into vilifying certain feelings and judging them as wrong. This is not what I mean. All human emotions are healthy and they give us important feedback regarding how to take care of ourselves.
Angus and I had a spat recently where I took him being late to do a work project with me personally. I spoke to him from a reactive state. He took me being reactive personally and responded from a more escalated place.
Previously I would have judged him as worse than me because his escalation was higher, but the truth is we were just both out of balance, end of story. When we settled and talked it through something shifted in me with my relationship to anger. I felt a deeper honoring of it. This doesn’t mean that I want to come at Angus "guns blazing". I don’t, but I do want to honor the experience of anger and not dismiss the feedback.
In our post blowup conversation, I told Angus that I thought his anger was valid, and I think mine was too. It wasn’t wrong that I felt angry and it wasn’t wrong that he felt angry. The anger was pointing to things that need to be addressed. From a settled place we were able to talk about this and come up with some practical solutions -- hopefully. We will see how they work out in practice.
This feels important to share because there can be this misconception around anger. I held the misunderstanding for many years that deeper spiritual awakening would erase certain emotions from my human experience. This has not been the case. But I do have a much larger capacity to be with my feelings without resisting them. I also stabilize much more quickly from upset. But I still feel as intensely as I have ever. And I sometimes act from the state of mind of reactivity. But I do this less often and am quicker to apologize when I do.
The feelings of hurt and anger are an essential part of the human experience. When we have space for them within ourselves it is healing. It also allows us to have greater space for others’ emotions too.
This capacity feels especially important now.
I am co-hosting a free series with Julieanne Chazotte called Reimagining Our Spiritual Communities: Loving Authentic Conversations around Healing Racism. The series was birthed when Julie and I were both exploring ways to address the difficulty for people of color to share their experiences of racism in their mostly white spiritual communities, and how that wasn’t being addressed by the communities at the time. I do think efforts are being made now.
We saw the importance of creating a space for greater understanding and perspective in order to more effectively address issues of racism, social injustice, and inequality.
In the exploration with the guest speakers, it was also clear that part of the coming together and healing includes being present to people’s experiences and allowing all of it to be heard. There is appropriate anger and hurt that results from injustice. There needs to be room for that to be acknowledged and for our eyes and hearts to be opened by it. All feelings are healthy, but often from a misunderstanding of what spirituality is or isn’t we can try to sanitize our human experience and not make room for it all. This is understandable because feelings can be intense, but when we understand the nature of them is to be transitory and know they don’t define who we are, it is much easier to be with them and to be with others having big feelings.
Whether it is on the personal level in the home or related to larger social injustices, anger is a healthy response. There is no wrong feeling. There is just what you feel in the moment. It is important to allow feelings to be felt and move through us.
Relationships improve when there is room for our humanity and the humanity of the other. It is through opening to our human experience that we drop in the impersonal nature of who we are more easily. It is not through by-passing it. That is not spiritual elevation. It is simply a human coping mechanism for dealing with discomfort and fear.
I encourage you to support your awakening by allowing and being present to your experience. There is nothing more simple, but it is amazing the ways we resist being present to what is. Know that everything you feel is coming from the one source of your true nature. It is for you. I am not saying you need to act from that place. I don’t know what will be true for you but begin with the allowing and the accepting of your humanity. Honor your experience so you can honor others' experiences as well.
I am hopeful that in our personal lives and in our communities there can be deep listening and deep understanding that includes room for anger and any other emotions. As humans, we do better when we have empathy, kindness, and support when difficult feelings come to the fore.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples' intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.