Anger comes from a creeping sense that we are small and in some way lacking. We’re usually unconscious of this sense of smallness, but it makes us cling to what I call “lower self qualities.” If we are to let go of these troublesome qualities, we need to be clear about what they are. Instead of just entertaining a general idea such as, “I am now letting go of anger,” or “I want to be in a higher state,” we can have a list in mind. Below I’ve listed specific Higher and Lower Self qualities. Having these in mind makes it easier to identify our mood and shift our state when we get upset.
Higher Self qualities
Patience, Kindness, Empathy, Compassion, Courage, Generosity, Encouragement, and Gentleness
Lower Self qualities
fearfulness, complaining, resenting, doubting, harshly judging, shaming, and blaming
I shared these lists with a client (let’s call him Marcus) who had recently been challenged by a colleague. Marcus perceived his colleague as consistently blocking him from having something that had great personal importance for him. Marcus wanted to have a fruitful conversation with his colleague. He needed to be at his very best when they met.
Of course Marcus wanted to be in a good state. He wanted to choose certain Higher Self qualities to connect with. No argument there. But then I suggested to Marcus that he’d be in a more powerful state if he also envisioned, even prayed for, the other person to connect with Higher Self qualities as well. Initially Marcus resisted. Very quickly, though, he realized it was silly to wish for Higher Self qualities for himself while holding onto a bad opinion of someone else. That holding on was clearly based on fear, blame and resentment – all Lower Self qualities. We had a good laugh about having a low opinion of someone while trying to get into a loving and generous state. How high can you really go if you still believe that others are low?
Now when I use the word “pray” I’m not suggesting that a belief in God is required. Praying doesn’t require an object that you pray to. The power of prayer lies in focusing our attention on a positive concept or vision. You could just as easily say that you can bless others by holding positive thoughts about them, which include imagining their well-being.
Here’s an important tip:
You can use this when facing someone you’re angry at, or when speaking to someone you’ve been holding a resentment against. If you want to to truly transform your inner state from anger to resourcefulness, change your vision of yourself, as well as your vision of the other person. Imagine the situation developing into a positive outcome for everyone involved.
As he considered this viewpoint, Marcus became willing to pray for his adversary as well as for himself. Then I asked him to wholeheartedly envision himself manifesting the Higher Self qualities of his choice. Suddenly, Marcus said he felt imposed upon. The word ‘wholeheartedly’ had triggered a sense of some impossible performance standard that he couldn’t live up to.
I quickly remembered that I had once had a similar response on hearing this word. I had also worked with clients who had reacted negatively to the words ‘persistent’ and ‘constant.’ Spiritual instructions often include these words: “pray constantly,” “make wholehearted effort,” “be persistent in your remembrance of the sacredness of all beings.” I remembered that I had once become very discouraged hearing such instructions. Like Marcus, I was taking them as admonitions to meet an impossible standard of perfection.
Then one of my teachers explained that to be wholehearted, constant, or persistent doesn’t mean attaining perfection. I shared this clarification with Marcus. I told him that to do anything “wholeheartedly” simply means making a concerted, focused effort.
I encouraged Marcus to try imagining the best for himself and the other person, for just 5 minutes a day. Then he could relax and let go. The key would be to do this daily for at least 5 minutes, and if he could do it in the same place and at the same time, even better. But then just relax and let it go. If your affirmation or object of contemplation returns to your mind during the day,” I told Marcus, “that’s fine. But you don’t have to try to hold on to it every minute.” Hearing this explanation, he felt much better and decided to give it a try.
Marcus did this for a few days before he met with his “adversary.” On the day of the meeting, he noticed with surprise that the man smiled when he saw Marcus approaching. The conversation proceeded with ease, and both men clearly enjoyed each other’s company. Marcuse told me, “I guess what happens on the inside really does determine what occurs on the outside!”
4 Steps for inviting a Higher Self quality
So here is your invitation: Pick a short affirmation like, “I am healthy and happy,” or “I succeed with grace and ease,” or whatever works for you. Refer to the Higher Self list of qualities. Choose one you wish to be planted within you and grow.
1. Make your statement short and positive.
2. Don’t be concerned about it being “true.”
3. Just repeat it for 5 minutes, not 15 seconds. Try this daily for one month, just for 5 minutes, and then let it go. But daily!
4. Enjoy the results.
Have an exuberant day, every day! (Hey, that could be your affirmation!)