Why is anger my “go to” emotion? Why does it crop up whenever I’m confronted with something I don’t understand or something I feel threatened by?
“Crop up” is not the right phrase to use. My anger “erupts.” It goes from zero to sixty within the span of a mini-second. It always seemed to be that way, even as a kid. Now at last I think I know why.
I am a “Type 1” in the rankings of the Enneagram. I like to see myself as a spiritual kind of a guy who fights against injustice wherever he sees it. And while I am that way, I’m also bastard when it comes to feeling righteous.
I feel I know the truth and can’t understand why others can’t see it for themselves. Yes, I believe I do have all the answers at times and that is what has gotten me into so much trouble in my life.
Recognizing that could be the first step toward a rehabilitation of sorts. Seeing my ignorance can be uplifting and purifying once I decide to take action different from what I normally choose to do. React, that is. Fight back. Take a swing to protect myself before getting hit.
This message from my “in-box” is what I’m talking about: I read it the first thing this morning and I can’t help but feel its true nature:
Type One Ennea Thought for June 21st
Traditionally your Passion is Anger, but in the Riso-Hudson teachings, it is Resentment, which is experienced as a simmering frustration. Where do you see this repressed anger occurring in your life today? (Understanding the Enneagram, 63)
I want to be a passionate type of a person. But I don’t want to hurt anyone, including myself. Anger can be productive when you are in a life or death situation. If you are at war, you want the adrenalin pumping for self-preservation. When you see injustice, you want the anger to spark action to defeat the injustice (Remember what Jesus did when he confronted the money-changers at the temple? He got angry, for Christ sake! A righteous anger.)
Even the Dalai Lama, one of the few people alive today that I revere, admits he gets angry. But he also cautions Buddhist practitioners to use “skillful means” in reacting to the anger.
That’s what I need to do. Use skillful means to prevent me from causing more harm than good in the world when the anger strikes.
Now, what about the second part of my Enneagram message? Resentment. Have I resented people and things in my life? Has such resentment caused the anger to swell and go unchecked by my ignorance?
Perhaps. Now all I have to do is to forgive those that I might have perceived as causing me to resent them, or for the situation that had evolved in my life. It goes hand-in-hand with patience, I believe. And maybe I can truly live up to the role of a Type 1 Personality and be the leader who can show more love the next time such “afflicted” emotions crop up.
Wish me luck!
(For more on the Enneagram, please see: Enneagram test)