My son, Craig was three years old when he asked me, “Daddy, are you ready to let your anger go?” This was over 16 years ago and we were driving around our neighborhood looking for our dogs who had escaped yet again, and I was fussing and fuming about our dogs that chased cats and were getting us in trouble with the neighbors. My anger over the situation was starting to become a problem because I was worried about the dog catchers getting called and I was ranting daily about those dogs that were deliberately disobedient and would continue to run away no matter how angry I got at them.
I had used this question with Craig and his brothers frequently in the past when they were fighting with each other, but I never expected one of them to use it on me. The boys were all in their car seats in the back and I was in the middle of my tirade about disobedient dogs who chase cats when Craig said again, “Daddy, are you ready to let your anger go? “ First I tried ignoring him, because I was upset and I didn’t want to let my anger go. When Craig repeated himself for the third time, Liz looked at me from the passenger seat and said, “Steve, you probably should answer him.” As Craig repeated the question one more time, I started flipping through my list of excuses to justify my anger and my ranting, but of course, I had no good excuse because Craig had me pegged, and I knew my boys would follow my example, not my words.
I realized I was cornered. I had no choice but to listen to my three year old counselor and so I finally said with some chagrin, “OK, Craig, I’ll let my anger go.” It was only a few minutes later when our dogs came running up out of a ditch, muddy and totally excited to our van as we were slowly cruising around the neighborhood. As I got out the dogs realized they were in trouble and they came groveling up to me on their bellies. I wanted to smack our disobedient felons, but the van door was open and Craig was watching me like a hawk, so I stayed as calm as possible as we took our dogs home.
In the following month as the dogs continued to run away and I would get upset, Craig would remind me, “Daddy you promised to let your anger go,” and I have to admit, as I worked on staying calm, all my unreasoning rage over the situation did start to go away and my mental health and the emotional space of our family greatly improved as I worked on letting my anger go.
So let me ask you the same question. Are you ready to let your anger go? Are you ready to release your addiction to blame or feeling victimized by others or by life situations? Are you ready to look within to understand, embrace and begin to release the fears that sabotage your relationships, which block your success and steal your joy? You can live the life of your dreams when you are ready to release your fears and let the best part of you shine. But here’s the thing, you can have a life you love or you can have your anger, your outrage and all your other fear-based emotions but you can’t have both. You get to choose.
This doesn’t mean doing a spiritual bypass and pretending to be more enlightened than you are. This means to become willing to do the inner work of transformation, to take a hard look at the person you see in the mirror and be honest with yourself about your character defects, your emotional blockages and fears and really commit yourself to take accountability for your emotional issues, work on releasing your anger and fear-based thinking and continue to do what you can to stay present in the moment and bring the best of yourself to all your struggles and life challenges.
This is important, because the quality of your life is at stake. However far you have come in life, there is always that next step you can take in your personal journey. What is that next step for you? What is your next greater yet to be? What possibility is the universe trying to manifest into the world through you and who do you have to become to allow this possibility to unfold? What fears or barriers do you need to release to be the change you want to bring into the world?
This joy, this clarity and this wisdom of Spirit is seeking to move through you to help resolve the issues in your life, to help you have a life you love and to make a difference in the world. It is the pearl of great price. You can have a life you love or you can have your anger, your judgments and your emotional baggage, but you can’t have both. Now is the time to choose. What are you waiting for? You can do this.