Transforming Anger and Resentment into Gratitude

 

 

Bitterness, anger, and resentment can lie dormant inside us yet infiltrate our every moment. We often don’t see these disturbing thoughts and feelings especially when we’ve been living with them day after day after day.  We might try to suppress this or we can find ourselves exploding these feelings out into the world, not even intentionally.

We have all kinds of reasons and justifications for why we have these feelings and experiences and why we can’t change.

And yet, we want to be happy.

We want to be at peace.

What to do then?

We can start loving kindness meditation wanting to be free from the upset and turmoil inside.  The practice might help for short bits of time.  We might feel calmer.  Yet the underlying disturbances are meant to come up.  The resentment, bitterness, anger, rage, frustration needs to come up, not to explode into the world but to be integrated to be transformed by the fundamental experiences of love and goodness.

The Buddhist monk Ajahn Sumedho writes in Tricycle about his experience “growing up” as a Buddhist monk in his 30’s after growing up chronologically in a family where his father never showed any love or kindness to him.  Ajahn Sumedho’s teacher was the great Thai monk Ajahn Chah.  It was through this relationship that he moved from an internal place of meditating from a perspective of “this is owed to me” to a place of gratitude.

How do we do this?

  • It’s important to see the conflict between what we intellectually think about something and our true emotional experience
  • If we’re sitting and feeling caught by anger it’s not to push away the anger but to move toward it, open to it
  • We do this is tiny increments, teaspoonful at a time, not trying to get rid of the whole but more curious about each piece that makes up the whole

Providing metta toward the disturbing feelings and metta for ourselves for having these feelings opens the door to the kind of healing and ease of being that we have been searching for.

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