Keeping anger on a leash


This week, I’m fighting with an organization that coaches entrepreneurs online. I had signed up for a membership, and provided my credit card number, on the understanding that the first month was free and I could cancel before getting charged for the second month. If I do not cancel my membership, it will be automatically renewed.

Unfortunately, I cannot find the ‘Cancel’ button on their website, and they have not responded to my emails or online posts requesting assistance.

This is a trigger point for Ego, that fearful part of my human experience that wants to fight and cause suffering. “Red Alert!” it shouts, relishing the battle cry. “Someone is out to get me! Load the torpedo bays! Launch missiles! We must defend ourselves from this unwarranted attack!”

I have been through this kind of thing before. Often it turns out to be a misunderstanding that is quickly resolved – after I have embarrassed myself by making a public outcry and attacked someone who didn’t realize they had done anything wrong.

In this particular instance, it’s possible that the organization in question is just disorganized and having technical issues. It’s possible that a cancellation procedure is on the site and I have not been able to find it. It’s possible that I’m being manipulated by my Ego to launch an attack against my brother when my interests would be better served by peaceful communication.

Unfortunately, sometimes my Ego is “right” and people really do find ways to steal money online. If I want to find reasons to hate people, I can find them. But that’s not the goal of my spiritual growth.

Spirit knows that we are all children of God. We are all brothers and sisters. We are all blameless in the sight of God. We have our issues, certainly, but these are things that we make up because we listen to the battle cries of Ego, when we should be listening to Spirit’s desire for unconditional love and grace.

Whether we are reacting against scam artists, or running a dishonest scheme ourselves, these games come from the Ego’s desire to perpetuate illusions of fear and lack.

So, bringing it down to the practical level, what can I do to act lovingly and honestly when Ego is giving me lots of reasons to fight?

On days like today, when Ego is shouting so loud that I can hardly hear the case for love, I take the Gordon McClymont approach. Gordon was my boss when I worked in the oil patch. When a challenge came up that called for a “nasty-gram,” he would draft the email and save it in case the problem didn’t take care of itself. Nine times out of ten, it got sorted out, and there was no need to throw gas on the fire with another inflammatory message. He taught me to do the same.

I’m not sure if Gordon is a very spiritual man, but he taught me about keeping Ego on a leash. When I want to lash out, it is precisely the time when I need to watch myself carefully. It is time to take measured action, and keep the final goal in mind. In this case, I want to cancel my membership with an online coach. Attacking him might get me what I want, or it might not. Attack breeds more attack. I want peace. I want this to be over. I need to stop attacking.

So, with Ego on a leash, I let myself write down a plan of attack, and set it aside. Then I write down some careful, deliberate actions to sort out this misunderstanding that needs to be resolved. I try to fix the misunderstanding and leave the battle for later. (And hopefully the battle never comes.)

To satisfy my Ego, I have not tried to deny my Ego or deny the problem, or deny the possibility of ever expressing my anger fully. I have simply postponed my Ego’s response. I’m sitting on my fists. I’m waiting out the storm. As we learn in meditation: “Don’t just do something – sit there!”

Ego will always be with us. But like a guard dog, we do not have to let it off the leash, or else it will attack anyone and everyone that it’s scared of. And that may include our family.

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About Craig

Craig lives in Calgary, Alberta.
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