Personal Power and the Four Demons
Have you ever lost control and flown into such a rage that you felt like you were possessed by a demon driving you to hell? If you are human, which I am betting you are, then chances are that you have had this experience. My friend and former Ninjutsu teacher, Shane Phelps, wrote a book titled Demon Chaser in which he chronicles his story as a SEAL, CIA Agent and Ninjutsu Master. Much of the book describes his life experiences chasing his own personal demons from hell back to a state of personal power. Setting aside the demon metaphor (and not discounting the possibility of their actual existence), the demons most of us have to deal with are primordial negative emotions that cause us to shrink, fall back and hunker down into smallness. All plans and dreams of happiness, boldness and abundance atrophy when confronted with these four demons.
In the last few posts in this series we examined a process to identify negative emotions, and then to transmute them into a positive and motivating sister energy. The process I introduced removes the debilitating, show stopping impact of the negative emotions and replaces them with a positive, momentum building body-mind state. We also identified four dominant negative emotions experienced in your life and stated the positive correlates you can focus on instead. Finally you asked yourself very specific questions about what life would be like when you shift those energies from the negative to the positive.
Eradicating the four demons from your life is so crucial that I wanted to take some more time to examine each one in depth. You need to to detect and interdict these buggers before they sink in their fangs and drag you into a personal hell. We will then examine the negative behaviors that these feelings manifest, and consider healthy behaviors to habituate in their stead. The four demons all stem from the primordial emotion of Fear. They are Anger, Anxiety, Arrogance and Absence of Self Love. We will examine the first demon, anger.
So Angry You Could Scream
Unbridled anger feels uncontrollable. Anger is associated with fear of loss, especially loss of reputation, material things, freedom and identity. Our deeply grooved ego identification and attachment to independence, roles, positions, ideas, ideals, wealth, toys and other people causes us to experience anger when their removal occurs. If someone or something attacks and removes or damages something that we hold dear, we mentally sense an overwhelming injustice. It’s then the anger begins to boil. That anger can show up as wrath, rage, abuse and an impenetrable negativity. The mental process of anger is to obsess about the supposed injustice, the perpetrator(s) of the injustice (even if it is self-induced) and the impact of the injustice and loss on your life. You feel the urge to get even and your mind searches for justification of the urge in a belief or social norm – such as eye for an eye. The body experiences tight constriction in the chest, disrupted breathing, elevated heart rate, a narrowing focus and an upwelling of negative energy seeking the nearest target to focus on. It’s as if you’re cornered and the sole option is to lash out. Stand by when Anger is activated…
The unhealthy coping mechanisms of anger include lashing out in physical violence, verbal threatening or haranguing, passive aggressive behavior, and perhaps the most debilitating, self-pity. All of these make matters worse, damaging your relationships, reputation, self-esteem and growth. Become hyper vigilant when the demon of anger presents itself so you can take action immediately to respond in a healthier manner.
Healthy responses to anger all start with awareness of breath. A truly aware breath, one with your full conscious attention all the way in and out, will short-circuit the emotional response and open up a small rift in time and space allowing you to respond positively. Breath in, breath out and be aware of the energy of the anger emotion and where it was about to take you (or you were taking it). Then insert one of the following healthy responses:
- Just witness your thoughts and allow the feelings to flow in a non-reactionary state.
- Hold your tongue, allowing silence to fill the gap.
- Walk away and create physical distance from the incident.
- Take mental control by feeding the courage wolf with positive self-talk.
- Decide to not play the role of victim. Choose instead a position of non-judgment, non-attachment and equanimity.
- Offer forgiveness.
All of these responses take some practice and can become positive habits that completely transform your life as the disabling effects of anger slip away, replaced by greater personal power.
Next time we will take a look at the other three demons and their offspring as well as healthier responses to habituate. Until then, stand guard against anger, it is not worth the effort.