Are You Using Old Wounds To Vent?
Wounds cry out for attention. If they are physical they cry out with physical pain. If they are psychological they cry out with mental anguish. During the healing process your pain is going to linger as long as it needs to. Even so, there is a difference between noticing your pain and dwelling on it.
We all know people who will use any excuse to draw attention to themselves, including a fixation on their current woes. The danger is that if you identify with your hurt, if you use it as your calling card, if you think it makes you more sympathetic, all these factors retard healing.
One of the most insidious aspects of anger is that it is so much easier to feel than other emotions. I donít just mean positive emotions like compassion but even negative ones like fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and self-doubt. Anger is also socially acceptable. Athletes use it to motivate themselves, for instance, and sometimes a football victory seems more like a battle won than the outcome of a game.
The way of peace asks you to make a fine distinction. Be aware of your hurt and pay attention to it. But do not fixate on it. This can be a difficult distinction to honor. There will always be moments when you canít tell if you are letting go of a hurt by expressing it, or just venting.
The difference comes down to intention. If you vent anger with the object of spreading your toxic feelings, the result will have nothing to do with healing. Your anger is your weapon. On the other hand, if you release anger the way youíd expel a rock from your shoe, your intention clearly has healing behind it.
Once the anger starts flowing, both of these alternatives might feel the same. Anger is anger. But if you have a healing intention, two things will happen: you will feel more peaceful after your anger has been released, and you will feel like an old, fixed belief in enemies and injustice has started to move.
Adapted from: Peace Is the Way, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2005).