Do you have some built up anger or resentment toward your parents, those you are close to, or anyone for that matter? I am not so happy to admit I have often held onto anger and resentment around my parent's decisions and parenting. I have only more recently let go of not being allowed to go to Festival Hall as a teenager! And I can feel resentful about how things are now too.
Thankfully I have been fortunate enough to be taught some helpful ways to deal with anger and resentment, as we have been discussing this month. Although tricky, working on overcoming our own anger, especially related to our parents, is well worthwhile, and contributes greatly to our peace of mind.
Recently I read some very helpful advice on working with anger towards our mothers, from Pema Chodron. Pema is a famous Western Buddhist nun and teacher. She once asked a teacher of hers how to best work with anger towards her mother, He gave this very helpful advice ...
1. Experiment for a while with resenting her and see how that feels.
I read this and thought about how I have been doing this particular experiment for way too long. So yes, I knew it felt yucky. So maybe I could go straight to step 2.
2. Remember any kindness she showed you as a child and try appreciating her for a week or two.
Sounds good. I decided to make it a gratitude practice and write it up in my journal each day. As mothers, we know first hand all the sacrifices we need to make to care for our families. Yet why do I sometimes find it tricky to remember all the sacrifices and kindness my own mother has shown me, over and over? Even if we are not mothers ourselves we can still remember back to all our mothers did for us. They gave us our lives, which is more than enough. They also taught us all sorts of things including how to eat, dress, talk, walk and write. Even if they were not able to be all that we wanted them to be, or be there for us when we needed them, giving us our lives is certainly something to be grateful for.
3. Make your own decision about which attitude to cultivate for the rest of your life!
I love this simple experiment - now comes the work, to put it into practice! As the Dalai Lama says, 'a hero is someone who conquers his/her own anger or hatred'. And as Pema Chodron says 'the future is completely open and we are writing it moment to moment'. So why not start to write a future of appreciation and let go of the resentment story retelling?
Even if our parents are no longer with us we can still work with our minds on cultivating appreciation and letting go of resentment. We can also practice forgiveness of ourselves and them too. You may want to look at the January forgiveness blogs as a reminder. Forgiveness is certainly an ongoing practice for me. It helps me to remember we are all doing the best with what we know at the time. In the well worn-words of Malcolm X 'There was a time when you didn't know what you know today.'
One thing I find helpful to remember is not to suppress a feeling or pretend that I do not have that particular feeling, such as anger, resentment or hurt. It is important to take the time to acknowledge the feeling and not to attempt to suppress it or pretend it is not there. Once acknowledged we can breathe and remember we have a choice with our response. We can carry on the resentment hurt or blame soundtrack, or as Pema suggests, create a new habit of appreciation.
I am going to do my own experiments over the following weeks and watch when resentment or anger come up acknowledge it and then do my best to remember to practice appreciation instead. I will tell you how I go in the following weeks!
Have a great week. Thank you all
Kind Regards and Best Wishes