What You Damn, Damns You

Anger Meditation in Four Forms - Tricycle: The Buddhist Review

What you damn, damns you.

What you place in darkness, calls you to the darkness.

Paul Selig

Paul Selig was the guest on the podcast I was listening to as I drove home yesterday. At first I was skeptical. He was described as an author and “medium.” He talks about “channeling” these other voices and entities that tell him what to write in his books. Anytime I hear outlandish claims like this, my defenses immediately go up. My first instinct is: this is a charlatan, a grifter, a scam artist. I am angered at the audacity of some of these so called mystics and the way they blatantly take advantage of their trusting, if not naïve, followers.

After listening to him speak for awhile, I did hear a lot of interesting ideas. Whether or not he actually believes he is channeling spirits that tell him these things, I have no clue. However, a couple of the things he ended up saying really struck me. Particularly the quote I shared above: What you damn, damns you. What you place in darkness, calls you to the darkness. I even tried to look it up to see if this quote could be attributed to anyone else, but wasn’t able to find it anywhere. This actually makes me curious to read at least one of Paul Selig’s books, in case there are anymore insightful tidbits like this.

I wanted to talk about that quote today and dissect it a little bit. It reminds me a lot of the famous Buddha quote: Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. I never really realized that this idea could be expanded to encompass practically all negative emotions. Often we lash out at the world around us, thinking subconsciously that our refusal to accept someone or something will help us maintain distance from it. But in fact, that hatred, that anger, that denial, that distaste, actually allows the very things we want to avoid to have more of an effect on us. It is equanimity toward all things that will set us free.

Take a moment to reflect on some of the things (or people) that you hate. How does thinking about these things feel in your body? Perhaps you notice a tightening in your chest, a narrowing of your eyes, growing tension in your shoulders. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s likely not pleasant. Now consider how these thoughts affect whatever it is you’re thinking about. I’m guessing it doesn’t affect it at all, right? So why do we continue to lower our own vibration for the sake of anger, hatred, etc.?

Sometimes it genuinely feels as though we have no choice. We’re made to feel these emotions. That’s how I thought about things for most of my life. And at times, it’s still hard to remember I have a choice. It definitely takes a lot of practice to resist that spark of fury when someone cuts you off in traffic or offends you in one way or another. I may not ever be able to eliminate these visceral reactions from my life completely. However, just reframing the way you see things is the first step. It makes a huge difference. I used to cling to my anger and avoidance. I claimed it as part of my identity even, defined myself not only by the things I loved but by the things I hated as well. It wasn’t just hard to let go, I didn’t want to let it go. These negative feelings felt important somehow.

Just noticing my own thought patterns and emotional reactions has made my life so much easier. While I’m not able to completely avoid getting angry or upset, it is a hell of a lot easier to calm myself back down and let those feelings flow through me without clinging onto them. Now I have much more energy to direct toward the things I love, the things I’m grateful for, the things that bring me peace and joy.

If you notice yourself ruminating about the things that irritate you today, try to remember that you are the only one being affected by these thoughts and feelings. Hating the slow driver in the left lane in front of you, doesn’t do anything to that driver. It doesn’t bother them, nor does it make them drive any faster. So why are you making the situation even more unpleasant by punishing yourself? Can you let it go? Do you feel resistant to letting it go? Can you get curious about why that is? Don’t be too hard on yourself if this is challenging at first. I still struggle with it all the time. The important thing is that you’re aware and you’re trying. That is something to be proud of.

Don’t Poison Yourself with Anger

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In the past, I have been an angry and easily irritated individual. So many little things throughout my day would make my blood boil and send my mind into a reeling spiral of complaints and criticisms. A slow driver in front of me on the road, seeing someone litter, a noisy neighbor. All of these things would leave me furious. Recently, however, I have realized the impracticality of such a mindset. Feeling this anger and letting my inner monologue begin justifying this anger and obsessing over the rudeness, carelessness, or illogical behavior of others did not serve to change any of these things.

These annoyances were every day occurrences, unavoidable, and largely things that I could never hope to eliminate from my world. Yet, they caused me to become filled with such frustration. The anger they caused took up so much time and mental energy. Recently, however, I have begun to overcome these flares of fury.

I realized that my passionate disapproval of these things was not going to lead to any kind of change. The only thing that I was doing was harming myself. I was increasing my risk for heart attack in later life and I was also destroying so many potential moments of peace and happiness that I could have been enjoying. Now when I feel my anger beginning to bubble up to the forefront of my consciousness, I remind myself that this anger serves no purpose. I remember that it is easy to focus on things that bother you or things that didn’t go the way you wanted them to. But there are plenty of wonderful joyous aspects of my day that slip under my awareness.

Most of us don’t allow ourselves to revel in the joy of waking up to birdcalls in the morning, or the satisfaction of getting the last package of your favorite snack at the supermarket. These things are just as common, but our minds seem to overlook them more often than the small unpleasantries. This creates strong neurological connections in our brain over time, forever intensifying and reinforcing this focus on the negative. Instead, we can all chose to let this anger go. We can chose to pay more attention to the small joys in our lives instead. The more you consciously chose to let go of your anger and increase your attention on pleasant things, the easier it gets as the wiring of your brain begins to alter. You will become a more calm and positive person. Allow your life to be full of peace rather than anger.

Let it go, my loves. ❤