The anger management module has been on my mind so I decided to explore the subject of ‘Anger’ further while I put the program together.
“Anger is like a howling baby, suffering and crying. The baby needs his mother to embrace him. You are the mother for your baby, your anger. The moment you begin to practice breathing mindfully in and out, you have the energy of a mother, to cradle and embrace the baby. Just embracing your anger, just breathing in and breathing out, that is good enough. The baby will feel relief right away.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh
I think Anger is a very normal emotion; everyone has a bit of anger in them as they have the emotions of love and joy. The difference, being that no one gets into trouble for feeling love, joy or any other happy emotion, instead I have noticed people— friends, family, colleagues etc—start spending more time around you wanting to share in your state of calm and peace. However, the minute the thunderclouds start rolling in, the crowds’ start thinning and seldom are you left with anyone around you. As a child and young adult who had a ‘temper’ I was made to feel like there was something severely damaged in my head. That I was not a normal being but more like a being that had to try and be normal.
So why do we all dislike it some much? I think because it makes us feel terrible, and we also realize (mostly in the aftermath) that it makes people around us feel terrible as well. It’s like coming out of a perfume store and walking past an unclean public toilet. Nothing can prepare us for the wave of revulsion that rises within our being, wanting us to take the respective sanitary in-charges to court or taking a picture and plastering it with some witty words on social media etc etc.
The key here is the feeling of revulsion. Just like no ones wants to go near that place ever again, even if a sign saying ‘this toilet smells beautiful’ is hung outside the door, no one wants to go near this emotion. Sadly like the civic body that supervises that public toilet, this emotion and the human being attached to it is condemned to hell, with a sign outside the gate ‘ Danger, Angry person, proceed with Extreme Caution’. We are seen and in time see ourselves as defective threads in the already fragile knitting of human relationships. However, instead of being quick to condemn others or ourselves, we pause and try and dig a little deeper, we will start seeing the reasons for these volcano eruptions.
It took me quite a few years of working with this emotion to realize that there was nothing wrong with me. I would ‘loose-it’ not because it was my favorite pastimes but because of some reasons. One of the most common was the inability to communicate my needs effectively which would lead to the frustration of them not being met, and eventually leading to my spewing hot lava. I grew up with my needs being dictated to me and any resistance on my part would often lead to being beaten or a verbal lashing. I eventually became fearful of voicing what I wanted. Later in life I would often end up getting angry in such situations because:
I would not feel confident to say what I wanted to say
I would assume that the other person would stamp all over my needs
I would already start feeling fearful and feel the need to protect my needs and myself.
Some other reasons were my ego and pride, inability to take constructive criticism, lack of self-esteem and self-worth. All of these have their own inner workings and I plan on writing more about what I learnt from working with them in separate blogs.
I believe we all have our own triggers that bring up this powerful energy that can cause us to explode and frankly it’s absolutely normal and okay. Sometimes we need anger to help us resolve a situation. When I understood this and worked on my triggers I would still get angry but my reasons started changing—It became a question of whether I chose to use my anger to help me resolve something vs. anger itself feeling it needs to rescue me and keep me safe.
The first step that helped me understand my triggers was to pause when I felt my anger rising, shut my mouth before I ended up saying anything hurtful and ask myself some questions—Why was I getting angry? What in this situation was really pissing me off? What were my needs that are not being met? If you are you are on the journey of understanding this emotion—for yourself, or someone else. I invite you to start with these questions or if reading this helps you identify one of your own root causes, then start with what you get, with a motive to find and work through the triggers of these nuclear reactions.
If you feel you need some support on the way, you can click here to write in to me and I will schedule a session for you. The anger management program will be announced once I have all the nuts and bolts in place but till then you can explore other ways of working with us and find out more about how we can help you.
A string of shattering experiences results in Tara, putting her ambitions aside to marry her college sweetheart at twenty-five. She wakes up as a wife, numbingly empty, but for the next nine years convinces herself: marriage is about compromising. Meeting Aadi, a married man seven years younger, tears her identity and secure world apart. It’s impossible to restore the equilibrium, so she takes a staggering leap of faith into the terrifying void. Socially isolated, Tara must inch through pitch darkness for her six-year old daughter’s sake, relying only on her inner voice till she meets her spiritual teacher.
Her inner demons of guilt, shame and fear, obstruct her way every time she needs to make a daunting choice. What will it take to bloom into the lotus of her true self? Can she find love and fulfillment while staying true to the woman she has become––not losing herself once again to the roles of wife, mother and daughter?
Tara’s poignant poetry woven into her fiercely frank narrative, takes you along the dramatic twists and turns of her inner and outer journey.
Standing alone in the dimly lit dressing room, waiting to be escorted out, I nervously look at the mirror for a final check—the wine-gold silk saree looks exquisite and the pleats fall neatly. I gently tug them to ensure they are secure. Reassured, I slowly move my gaze up and find myself looking at a tall, slim woman.
Meeting her eyes, I recoil in shock.
“Who is this apparition? Why does she look so miserable?”
I look in horrified wonder as it slowly sinks in. Without warning a hot ball of panic and dismay rises, nearly choking me. “What’s wrong with me? This is not how I was supposed to feel on this day. Especially not when for the past seven years, I have wanted nothing more than to be married to this very man.”
The door swings open. “It’s time for the Jai-Mala… come with us,” my cousin-sister grins at me with twinkling eyes.
Pulling myself together, taking my place between my cousins, I demurely look down as Indian brides traditionally do. As I step outside on the red carpet, a harsh light blinds me; I hold onto my cousin’s arm for support. I am slowly led toward the stage—the solemn sound of shehnai announces my arrival. Hundreds of eyes, awarding points for beauty and grace, bear down on me.
Carefully climbing the stairs to the stage, my eyes search for the groom—hoping the sight of him will dispel my gloom. When I do, my heart sinks even further. He stands with his cousins with a distant, smug look on his face. “Is this the man I am going to marry? He seems like a total stranger.”
The proceedings get underway; I repeatedly try to connect with him hoping for a reassuring look or gesture. But he seems lost in a world of his own. “He hasn’t even said a word about how I am looking, unlike everyone else.”
Distracted by loud voices, I notice my cousin-sisters talking to him. “Be prepared to roam around barefoot after the ceremony. We won’t return your shoes unless you meet our demands,” they tease him.
“Don’t expect any money. You can keep the shoes,” he says dismissively. “We can easily arrange for a backup pair,” his cousin-brothers add.
My sisters exchange a perplexed look, as I look on incredulously fighting the urge to step in.
“Maybe he has been drinking,” I tell myself—furious at how a friendly ritual intended to build ties has instead created walls.
I go through the motions feeling like a decked-up doll—numb and empty. By the time we enter the wedding mandap for circling the sacred fire, my emptiness gives way to indignant anger at his self-centeredness. When we sit down side by side in front of the fire, I finally get a moment with him. We exchange a few heated words as the priest chants the Sanskrit verses.
“What an inauspicious beginning,” I think in dismay as the priest tells us to hold hands.
I want to stand up and walk away. But I know this is impossible. I try to shake off my loneliness, but it only gets stronger when we get back on stage—especially as I am repeatedly left alone to meet guests, while he gets off to mingle with his friends.
The next morning, a knock startles us. We ignore it. “Surely someone has the wrong room.” The knocking persists. My husband stumbles sleepily to the door.
I hear his mother’s voice outside but am too preoccupied with the disorienting pall hanging over me. Before I know it, she is standing by the bed. I fumble around—my face getting warmer by the second—and hastily pull the covers up. She waits as I sit up to greet her.
“Did you sleep well?” she says with a smile. “You must wear the gold set with the long, heavy necklace—you know the set I’m talking about?” I nod, managing a weak smile but cringe internally. I know the one all right—the one I’ll probably wear for the first and last time today—it’s just not me.
“Get ready and come quickly… everyone is waiting to have breakfast with you both.”
I silently wear the glittering necklace over my rose-pink saree, thanking myself for having insisted at least the sarees were selected with me. Putting on the mask of obedient daughter-in-law, I feel like a traitor to the woman I was just a few months ago:
“Why must my parents foot the entire cost of this wedding… it’s not right.”
“That’s the tradition… it’s the way things are done in our family,” his mother had said.
“I think the cost should be borne equally between the two sides… after all it was your son who pursued me relentlessly for years—not the other way round.”
His father had stepped in, “Don’t worry, I respect your feelings… we will pick up our share of the tab.”
Does marriage do this to a woman overnight? The feeling of impending doom I have been waging a battle with gets set in stone, as I gear up not only for the day ahead, but also for the life it heralds.
“Maybe I am overreacting…” I tell myself. “After all, tender love—the kind that makes your heart stir—must surely exist only in the movies. Time to wake up to reality, my dear. Enough ado about nothing. Roll up your sleeves and get set for married life… it can’t be that bad, both of you do love each other. And marriage is about compromise. You can’t have it all. Focus on the bright side.”
Over the next nine years, I repeated this pep talk like a broken record—till I had second-guessed myself into believing I had a solid marriage. However, as I look back now, it is ridiculously obvious we were totally wrong for each other. In fact, over our seven-year courtship, I was served many red flags. Although I did breakup with him every time, I always took him back.
Why did I not choose to follow my dream: study abroad and travel the world? Why didn’t I explore a relationship with the men I clearly had a better connect? Why instead did I hitch my wagon to his…?
The ancient science of Yoga gives many practical tools, that can be used in our day to day lives, helping us stay calm especially in stressful situations.
From my own personal practice I know that the The Heart Mudra or ‘Hriday Mudra‘ is one of the easiest & most effective in maintaining this energetic balance.
(Mudra’s also known as energetic locks help channel the flow of our energy (prana) through our bodies. This natural energetic flow when disrupted – due to strong emotions or stress – can result in symptoms such as tightness in the chest, panic attacks, lower back pain, stiff necks and migraines, to name a few. These energetic locks maintain the natural energetic balance, helping our minds & bodies cope with and even stay calm during tough situations.)
When accompanied with meditation, this particular mudra can also help in working out bottled up emotions.
It governs the energy of the heart chakra which is one of the first to get impacted during stress.
‘The best part is you just have to form it and it will do the rest. You can do it even while talking to someone’.
Sit, Stand or Lie down.
Form this Mudra on both hands – bend the index finger so that the tip or first knuckle (whichever is easier) touches the base of the thumb
Join the tip of the thumb with the tips of the middle and ring fingers
Keep the little fingers slightly extended but relaxed
Practice for a few minutes till you feel the stress lifting.
Practicing this mudra helps bring about a sense of calm during stressful situations
It helps in releasing pent-up emotions
Reference: Mudras for modern life by Swami Saradananda
Though we have been operating in the field of ‘Life Coaching’ for quite some time, to be very honest, we cringe inwardly every time we have to use this term (for lack of a better one) to define what we do – helping people deal with life challenges in a graceful and creative manner.
Why do we cringe we asked ourselves? We realized Life-Coaching seems an exaggerated description of the role an ordinary human being can play in another person’s life! In fact, the term ‘Life Coach’ appears to be a modern version of the traditional, more accurate term ‘Guru’. That’s where the disconnect arises for us – since a Guru is not ordinary but is an extraordinary spiritually awakened person who can remove the darkness of confusion and ignorance from an aspirant’s mind. For the mind with its baggage of emotional pain, negative conditioning and unhealthy distractions blocks out the voice of our wise, inner guide. An authentic guru or life coach serves as a beacon, lighting the way in life till we become independent, by connecting to our own personal, inner guru or coach.
We struggled for many lonely, frustrating years seeking advice from different kinds of professionals before we found our spiritual teacher. Although they were all well meaning, their advice was coloured by their narrowly held views and moral judgments. I was told it was wrong to separate from my former husband since I had a six-year old daughter with him. It was only our spiritual teacher who validated my inner voice, telling me to file for divorce immediately. Had I listened to the opinions of all the coaches I consulted before him, I would certainly have remained stuck in my former marriage and not be in a deeply fulfilling marriage today with my present husband, Aadi who shares a strong loving bond with my daughter.
The purpose of sharing all this is to drive home the point that it is crucial you do your homework before choosing a ‘Life-Coach’, especially since it is an unorganized industry without any legal supervision. Another issue is the term ‘Life-Coach’ being used rather loosely by professionals from varied fields.
Here is a list of six criteria to check thoroughly before selecting a Life Coach:
1. Area of Expertise: It is important to correctly identify the scope and area of expertise of the coach to ensure there is a proper fit between what you need and the kind of inputs different professionals can reliably provide. Astrologers, numerologists, alternate healers, past-life hypnotherapists, tarot card readers, psychics, yoga asana instructors, counselors, psychologists, authors of self-help books all have a different lens through which they view life and a very specific skill-set that may or may not be suited for the particular situation you are seeking help with. Be very clear about the kind of advice you are seeking and carefully identify the field of operation best suited for your requirement.
2.Professional Training & Qualifications: A Life-Coach should be properly trained in working with the conscious, sub-conscious and subtler aspects of the mind. Without a thorough understanding of the mind and its complicated machinery, a coach may be handicapped to practically help you.
In our experience, releasing unresolved emotions and identifying the limiting beliefs, psychological patterns that are blocking growth is essential for ensuring progress in self-development. This is why, we suggest checking the background of the professional – what is the kind of training he or she has had in working with the mind? Is it largely theoretical or is the person equipped with practical tools that help ease the mind and emotions. Check the qualifications and use common sense to figure out if the person seems suitably trained for your purpose.
3. Personal Life Experience: Each of us has a unique life-story that has shaped us in becoming the person we are today. This is particularly true for someone who is functioning as a Life-Coach. He or she should ideally have had a substantial amount of life experience under the belt giving them a rich perspective on life. Mind you, the age of the coach is not enough to determine the variety and intensity of the life experience – not everyone with grey hair is wise! True wisdom comes from having lived life mindfully through all its ups and downs, contemplating the choices made and learning from them day to day.
So, be curious and dig deep – has the person gone through the kind of challenge you are facing? This might be an added advantage as the coach would have an inside perspective on what you are personally going through and will be sensitive to the dynamics of the problem. For instance, someone who has not been a parent to a teenager may not fully understand how frustrating and hurtful it can feel when your thirteen year-old suddenly starts withdrawing from you or answering back. Check out the blog of the coach to understand how they dealt with their personal issues and what they learnt along the way. Have they been a successful Life Coach for themselves or their family members?
4. Genuineness: Besides the first three criteria that are quite specific and easier to check, there are certain intangible, personality related factors that go a long way in determining the effectiveness of a coach. The foremost among these would be the level of genuineness of the individual. The person should genuinely – be interested in helping you, be caring and warm, be patient and want to empower you to take charge of your life independently.
You can get some idea about this from the website and blog but it is advisable to talk to the person over the phone or meet personally to get a better sense. Go by your instincts and try not to give too much importance to client testimonials showcased on their website Sure, testimonials are good to go through but they shouldn’t be your main criteria. Remember you are a unique individual and what worked for others may not work for you.
5. Open-mindedness: All of us have a belief-system we grow up with imparted to us by our parents, the education system and popular social norms. If you are trying to swim against the tide, you need someone non-judgmental and open-minded. Someone who doesn’t simply go by their rule-book to tell you what is right or wrong but tries to get inside your shoes to see things from your perspective.
You should be able to trust your coach implicitly to support you – it should be safe for you to share your innermost, darkest secrets or most shameful feelings with him or her without fearing judgment. Read their blog and ask probing questions to get an idea of their views, especially on the specific kind of life area you are struggling with. Do they have a black and white approach to issues such as pre-marital sex, infidelity for instance?
6. Humility: This may appear as a strange selection factor, but it is a vital quality needed in a Life Coach. They should be well aware of their personal limitations and be committed to their own self-development. For it’s when we claim that we have arrived or have got all the answers that we stop growing. We get stuck in a self-important, rigid, bubble through which it becomes difficult to authentically connect with anyone else. Look for the signs of humility – what is their opinion of themselves? Do they treat you like an equal or talk down to you?
Above all, don’t be in a hurry to select a Life-Coach. Take your time, do your research and examine your options rationally. Shortlist a few who seem to meet your criteria. Then talk to them over the phone or if possible face-to-face to get a first-hand feel. Finally, go by your gut (and not the Google Ranking) to select the person you feel most comfortable working with.
I wrote this poem when I became aware of my self-limiting beliefs which were holding me to ransom. It was time to move past this past conditioning which made me feel hopelessly unworthy. It was time to gently assert myself and move forward, full of strength and conviction. I hope it inspires those who read it to do the same …
Break free …
Of your unfounded fears
Of the pain of the past
Of the judgment of peers
Of your need for a mask.
Break free …
Of the conviction you can’t
Of the resistance to soar
Of the shoulds and the shan’ts
Of not reaching for more.
Break free …
Of feeling so small
Of feeling ashamed
Of not standing tall
Of all the self-blame.
Be free …
To demand & command
To take a firm stance
To move up in line
To rise and to shine.
This poem is a personal expression of how I understood my anger.
This realization came at a time when I had almost destroyed all that mattered to me. What my spiritual teacher had warned me about was coming true—he had said that anger could destroy my world and had asked me to be mindful of it.
It was difficult at the beginning, until I accepted my anger as part of myself and stopped fighting it. I realized my reasons for getting angry, and over time, I was able watch it carefully, nipping it in the bud. I have learned that anger is a very normal emotion and my heart goes out to everyone who is labeled as “angry.” I wrote this poem hoping other people struggling with anger will also find the roots of their anger.