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Thread: Anger insight?

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Anger insight?

    I havenít been very pleased with my practice of being-ness lately. Lots of noise in my head has arisen and itís lingering (not yet fading). Recently, some of that noise is anger. I like to think that I donít get angry, so this was a surprise. But then I learned something, had some insight, so I making it a lesson for me. And part of that lesson is to share it, so let me explain.

    I ran out of a prescription medication a month ago and it took three days for the doctor to send the renewal the pharmacy. Thatís a looong time to refill a simple prescription for a relatively mild medication. I was angry at the doctorís office for taking so long to do this seemingly simple thing and that because of it I had to go without my medication for three days, but I also understood that the people involved were doing their best under their unique circumstances. The doctorís office finally sent over a new prescription, and on my bottle it says that it can be refilled until 2/10. Good, I think, no more hassles about this for a year. Well, itís a one-month supply, so when I call to refill it this month they tell me there are no refills and the doctor needs to send them a new prescription. ďWhat? Itís good for a year, says so right on the bottle,ď I say. ďBut thereís no number of refills, just a date,Ē the pharmacist says. ďWe need a number or we canít refill it.Ē This is on Saturday, and I am on my last pill. All of this means that the doctorís office wonít get notified until Monday, and it could be days before the doctor sends the NUMBER of refills so they pharmacy can fill a prescription that is dated to be good for a year (by my math that equals the number 12). So now Iím pissed off. ďThatís just stupid!Ē I tell the pharmacist, but thatís all that can be done for now. We hang up, but now I am MAD. I rehearse this madness over and over again, until finally I sit and examine it, try to use some mindfulness and look into it a little more deeply.

    What I learned was that I could let go of the anger better the first time because I understood it was people involved and just the mechanics of paperwork interacting with office dynamics; the woman at the office explained they were busy and doing their best and felt bad that it was taking so long. This time, however, it is much harder to let go of the anger because I donít understand a system the pharmacy has in place that prevents filling a prescription that is up to date. The first time I could understand because it was people, but this time itís a system that I just canít understand (yes, I know, people created the system). So hereís my point (thank you for your patience so far), its not what the pharmacy did this time; itís my lack of understanding what they did. My ďselfĒ bumped into something it didnít understand and became angry about it. My ďselfĒish attachment isnít so much about my pills or the time it takes to get my pills. I can let that go fairly easy. No, my attachment is to understanding things! Itís easy to let things just be when you have an understanding of those things, but when you donít understandÖÖ.. thatís hard!

    So, what Iím wondering now is how much of our anger is this lack of understanding? Or maybe I should say how much of our anger is this attachment to understanding?

    Thanks for letting me share. Itís really noisy in my head, so I think Iím gonna go do 4-hr zazenkai and see if that can quiet things.

    Gassho

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Anger insight?

    Hey Alan,

    Thank you for sharing this and I see a lot of what you described in myself. Ironically the latest such exoerience has to do with getting a prescription, although it was more a matter of patience than the understanding (or lackthereof) you mentioned. For whatever reason I often feel I need to understand something right away and since that's just not possible I set myself up for frustration and bumping quite a few times. Food for thought.

    Gassho,
    Scott

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: Anger insight?

    Great post! Thank you for sharing! Understanding or lack there of and fear are often the root of my anguish. "Rehearsing" the anger is a perfect way to put it!

    Deep bows for the lesson!
    Gassho, Shohei

  4. #4

    Re: Anger insight?

    Hmmmm, interesting. I read this, and think about it through a 1st person lense, and I don't feel anger--I feel fear. What if? What will happen? lack of control...I need the meds, and if I don't have them then ..... what will happen, and that 'what' will feel bad/sick/hurt/weak etc etc.

    Wondering how intimately the two 'feelings' are related for everyone, and also wondering if this could be a gender-gap in the viewing of the same situation through a different lense?

    and fervently hoping Alan gets through this (short temporary) lack and comes out the other side no worse for wear (or for wear-ing the emotions that the episode clothed him in)

    G, Ann

  5. #5
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Anger insight?

    Update: A few hours of sandokai study and zazen followed by metta for the pharmacist, among others, and the noise in my head has stilled, some patches of clear-sky mind appear occasionally. On to business...

    I went back to the pharmacy today. Still no prescription, doctor's office usually takes a day to turn that paperwork around. I asked to understand how a one-year prescription of a one-month supply could not have 12 refills, that magic number, and the answer is the doctor must not have put a number on the space on the prescription designated for "number of refills." Still stupid, but of the human foible type. Still frustrating, but more manageable now. I also got a few pills to hold me over until all this paperwork gets corrected.

    Chessie, I think fear and anger are very closely related, and both relate closely with lack of understanding. We certainly fear things we don't understand. There are countless examples of this in humanity regardless of gender, although there may be some gender differences also. I might have felt fear in this case had the meds been more crucial or life-sustaining rather than "just" life-enhancing.

    I think this question of attachment to understanding is overlooked a lot of times. Think of all the times in your (or others) life when you got mad or afraid of something, but then once people explained what was happening so that you understood it your fear or anger went away. It wasn't that you wanted something in a certain way so much as you wanted to understand why is wasn't the way you wanted it. Isn't this what education is all about?

    Understand?
    let it go

  6. #6

    Re: Anger insight?

    Hellos to all posting here.
    Interestingly enough this afternoon I had to go to the pharmacy for a prescription...have a secondary infection after 'flu leased my body for yet unknown amount of time.

    Well, these kinds of situations are our very life. When things work well, they work well. So, what does 'working well' mean?
    For me this is machines behaving smoothly with no glitch, and smooth interactions between the flow of persons and objects with language and behavior as intermediary.
    A lot of what I consider 'going well' when I look at it, are things going at a rate of speed I am compatible with. When I think something is superlative, it is because the rate of speed exceeds my anticipation.
    When things go poorly or badly it is because things are happening too quickly or far too slowly, or (as with a machine) it is requiring of me something I haven't got (knowledge? expertise?).

    Over time something has happened to the anger so abundant in my youth.
    I'm not saying I don't get angry. It's just not the same; the blind kind are rare and stage two levels don't have the same white molten core to it.
    There is something about that 'rate of speed' of things. I've slowed down and I can take things down several notches and even go more slowly--(I've been staring at walls for years now, and I guess some of that wall has become internalized)
    Fact is, everyone really is doing the best they can, despite appearances or personal convictions to the contrary. And the truth is we can all do better.
    Best thing for me to arrive at was to understand that for any situation in which I could see other people needing to improve, it was those situations in which I needed to penetrate to see where I needed 'improving.'
    I also practice praising the efforts of others. I get the name of their supervisor and not only do I tell the person who helped me out when I was 'irritable and frustrated', I also tell their supervisor how well the person assisting me had handled the situation and sought remedy for it.
    For me doing this kind of thing, not only gives me the opportunity to take responsibility for my behavior, but also (I hope) to 'strengthen' the patience and forbearance of those who find themselves in situations where this kind of tolerance of the emotions of others is needed.

    At any rate, I don't see any of it as being 'wrong.' In any specific moment, given all the variables, that is what the ingredients on hand in that moment resulted in. Moment by moment that is how it is.

  7. #7

    Re: Anger insight?

    I think part of it is understanding when the machine goes click, it goes click. When it stops clicking, it stops clicking. The rise of anger, is like any other part of our practice. Just like the rise of fear, or craving, or just plain restlessness, and frustration. Don't leave body out either. When we get angry (or what ever we get) that shows through in Body as well. We scratch that back of our head, we sweat, we walk around the room with a feeling of boredom and slight tension. Nothing satisfies. And so on. However, when the machine goes click. It just goes click. Not "Oh my god!! the machine is not going click!!" Everything's about us isn't it? This is happening to ME!!

    Gassho

  8. #8
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Anger insight?

    A post script:

    Even when I was saying "that's stupid" I knew it was the wrong thing to say. It's a projecting statement, as if the problem were not mine. The more accurate statement would have been "I'm frustrated" both for me and, especially, for the people I was speaking to.

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