I have been absent from my blog for some time, as I deal with a family crisis.  I have also been experiencing a bit of a writer’s block as I deal with an internal conflict that has forced me to re-examine my inner concepts of peace: namely, my rage at an individual who has caused grief and chaos to my loved ones.

For over a month I have grappled with my desire to lead a peaceful, non-violent life, while being consumed from the inside out by anger, hate, vengefulness, and a myriad of other emotions.  Ironically, the object of my rage is not suffering; I am.

All of us get angry at times, and I have allowed myself plenty of destructive fantasies involving this person, which I’m pretty sure are not growing my soul in any productive way, although admittedly, some of them have been amusing.

As I have described in other blogs, I see peace as a continuum and we have to address not only world peace, but our own view of inner and interpersonal peace.  There is always shifting and finding balance, and this latest situation has knocked me on my behind.  At the center of my conflict is: how do I live as I believe when I am consumed with rage?  The answer is simple: I can’t.  Any brief satisfaction I have derived from my hate has been more than offset by the knowledge that I am nursing a conflict, one that will destroy my soul if I allow it.  To that end, I have been looking at ways to release my hate for this person, and let Karma, that great equalizer, deal with him.

Here are some of the strategies/thoughts I have come up with: 

1) Focus on that good ol’ Serenity Prayer, about changing what I can, accepting what I can’t, and knowing the difference.  This is at the heart of everything, and I have to reprocess this several times a day. 

2) Deep breathing, lots of it.

3) Recognition that anger is based in hurt, and admitting to myself that I am hurt, instead of acting tough about it. 

4) Reminding myself of the fact that nobody is pure evil (I’m sure some will disagree with that), and that most nasty deeds are performed by someone who is hurting too.

5) In line with number four, reminding myself that if I act in rage from my own hurt, I am no better than the person I am hurting.  A question I ask myself is, “Am I doing this because it will help the situation, or just to make myself feel better because I am mad?”

6) The realization of perspective: that this person and I are both only one person each in a huge world with bigger dramas than mine.  Along with that is running my decisions through that filter of “in the long run,” will this be a good idea?  I have decided not to do several things I had started to do, after running them through this filter.

7) Living well IS the best revenge.  I can move forward, and heal my soul; it is up to him to heal his, or not, as he chooses.  My own hate hurts me.

8) When I focus on what a jerk I feel he is, I am paying attention to him, and that gives him power over me.  Ugh.

9) We are all on our own path, and I just need to live mine with love and honesty.

10) In order to work toward peace, I have to relinquish the idea that I can fix things that aren’t mine to fix, or “get even.”  It’s an evolutionary step backward to entertain these ideas, no matter how appealing and fun they feel at the moment.

Power is an illusion.  I am not empowered when I am raging, hateful, angry, vengeful, even with all that adrenaline.  And let’s face it, adrenaline feels good.  It makes me think I can go in and “kick ass.”  Even if I was successful at getting even with this person, how will that impact my soul?  Am I now more powerful? 

These are the conversations that have been running through my head at 3am, and many of my waking moments.  I am trying to live with integrity, and don’t want to entertain violence or hypocrisy.  It is very distressing when they invade my thoughts; more distressing to me is how I find myself savoring these thoughts at times.  At first I indulged them, but it felt ugly.

Other things I have been doing (by no means a definitive list):

*       Listening to my body
*       Taking my vitamins
*       Being more aware of my needs for sleep and quiet time and rest
*       Letting myself feel feelings without judging them as “bad,” just not indulging all of them with actions
*       Writing
*       Healing
*       Trying to be a good support to family members
*       Getting fresh air whenever I can
*       Assessing what really makes me happy and trying to take time for those things
*       Hugging my grandchildren

The more time I spend on the positive, controllable aspects of my life, the less I will focus on the negative stuff.  While I still have not chosen to forgive this person, and he continues on his path of bad choices (in my opinion), I am working on letting go of what I can.  Like grief, healing and forgiveness do not go in a straight line.  Some days are better than others, and it takes very little for me to revert back to my “I’m going to get that $#^%&$&” mentality… but I’m aware of it, and working on it, and that is the first step.  I’m no angel, and at times I’ve derived real glee from being devious when I’m mad.  But I’m trying to do better, and remind myself several times a day that real power is found in the ability to love people who are unlovable, to forgive those who don’t deserve it, and to never be able to say, “he made me do it.”  Real power is found in free will, and I am working to get that power back because that is what I consider integrity and the root of real peace.  After all, peace isn’t just about tie dye and flowers, it’s a daily intention and a process.  None of us are perfect, but we all keep trying.

If I can’t live my own life in personal peace, I can’t advocate for the rest of the world to do it.  I’d be curious how others find peace in the midst of anger and chaos… what strategies they use, what comforts they find, what wisdom helps them.  I try to read the words of Gandhi and Jesus and the Dalai Lama, and other peacemakers to find my way.

I’m interested in knowing: how do YOU promote inner peace when you are in turmoil, and how do you let go of that illusion of power?