Friday, March 18, 2016

Temper and Turning the Other Cheek

As I was meditating on today's third Sorrowful Mystery (the Crowning with Thorns) I thought about how there is one change over the years that I'm not happy with: how I've lost the ability to turn the other cheek when others attack me. I thought about how Jesus was mocked and spat on and yet he did nothing in return. What an admirable trait, one that I wish to restore in my life.

I don't know when it happened but sometime in the past couple of years I've become quick to respond and let my temper take over when I feel attacked. I don't like it. At all. I never used to be like this. I used to be better at holding my tongue, of being able to internalize it before I acted on it. I don't know if the change came as a result of my father's death (after the initial mourning period), of cognitive-behavioral therapy that wasn't properly taught to me, or if my time at my CINO college alma mater brought it out. Maybe it was a combination of all three, who knows. All I know is that during this Lenten season I've noticed this negative aspect in myself, that I didn't like it, and that I want to try to be more mindful of how I react, like I used.

I'm not saying I want to go back to the exact same way it was because I used to internalized it (read: bottle it up) and it made my anxiety and panic attacks worse. I don't want that. What I need to do is to find a balance between internalizing it and speaking out. When I say "speaking out" I mean defending myself against unjust words... and even then, I need to learn to try to look for cues on whether it's even worth speaking out against or if it'll make the situation worse.

I wanted to read Overcoming Sinful Anger by Fr. T. Morrow for Lent because I've noticed that I've become more irritable in general ever since my father died and I want to change that. Since I ended up focusing on unplugging and quieting the world (because a lot of things I ended up taking to the confessional came as a result of the (way too much) time I was spending online), I didn't get a chance to read it but God still opened my eyes and my heart about starting this change during the remaining days of Lent.

I started cognitive-behavioral therapy three weeks ago for some linger anxiety issues and I hope it will help; this is one of the things I'm going to work on in my short-term program. Since my therapist seems to be Buddhist (and has suggested I do yoga and meditation which is not compatible to the Catholic faith; the stretches are okay but the spiritual component obviously isn't), I'm going to have to tweak some things from therapy such as using Gregorian chant when I need to clear my mind when I'm mentally overwhelmed.

I'm sharing this for two reasons. First, because I know this is a problem that many people have. How many of us wish we could just turn the other cheek when someone verbally bashes us? You know, after the initial anger dies down. I miss having that ability. I know I'm capable of it... I just lost that part of myself somewhere down the line. The second reason is because I'm wondering how many people saw what they needed to work on in their lives during Lent but, for whatever reason, thought to themselves "oh, this isn't a problem..."

It's very hard to accept that there's some things that we need to work on, especially when they're bad habits or a negative aspect of ourselves that we've tried to deny. Do you think I liked admitting that I've had a temper problem in recent years? No, I did not. I tried to justify or excuse my actions but I just can't anymore. "I'm just defending myself" and "oh, but I cool off after a few minutes" (which is true; I just need to be left alone to cool down for a little while) only goes so far. I think I'd rather turn the other cheek and learn to deal with how to process what was said or done to me without letting it affect my sensitive side as much as it has in the past; dealing with those words and actions in a healthier manner. It's not going to be easy (even when meditating on the cruel things Jesus endured towards the end of his life) because in the heat of the moment I only think about how upset or hurt I am. Still, I know it's something that needs to change. God has already shown me that it's possible, I simply need to work on it.

Anyway, that's it for now. Sorry for the ongoing gaps between posts; I've been busier (with important things) lately and haven't had the concentration (due to the stress) or the time (poor time management at times) to either write or even read the books I have from the library. That crazy, folks! I think I may have something up for St. Joseph's feast day tomorrow since he is my patron saint for the year. We'll see. ;)

I hope y'all have had a wonderful week and that you have a lovely weekend.

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D


che said...

Hi Emmy, I love the idea of using Gregorian Chant in such a manner. Thanks for sharing the idea. I do tai chi and like you I have to utilize alternative practices to conform to our faith. I find reciting the Jesus Prayer helpful in particular as it places me in the presence of Our Lord as I move. Wonderful post. Have a blessed Palm Sunday!

Emmy Cecilia said...

Che - Thanks! And, yes, sometimes we need to tweak some things so that are in line with our faith. How do you like tai chi? Happy Palm Sunday! :)