Turning our fear and anger into opportunities

Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die - Buddha

Much of our suffering comes from wrong perceptions. To remove that hurt, we have to remove our wrong perception. “I see him or her as doing this or that. But maybe the reality is not exactly like that. There are a number of hidden points I didn’t know. I need to listen to him or her more, in order to understand better.” The people who we think have created our suffering likewise may have wrong perceptions about us. When you make the effort to listen and hear the other side of the story, your understanding increases and your hurt diminishes. The first thing we can do in these situations is to acknowledge internally that the pictures we have in our head, what we think happened, may not be accurate. Our practice is to breathe and walk until we are more calm and relaxed. The second thing we can do, when we are ready, is to tell the people who we think have hurt us that we are suffering and that we know our suffering may have come from our own wrong perception. Instead of coming to the other person or people with an accusation, we can come to them for help and ask them to explain, to help us understand why they have said or done those things. There is a third thing we need to do, if we can. The third thing is very hard, perhaps the hardest. We need to listen very carefully to the other person’s response to truly understand and try to correct our perception. With this, we may find that we have been the victim of our wrong perceptions. Most likely the other person has also been a victim of wrong perceptions. Deep listening and loving speech are very powerful practices. With them, we can create good communication and find out what is really going on. If we are sincere in wanting to learn the truth, and if we know how to use gentle speech and deep listening, we are much more likely to be able to hear others’ honest perceptions and feelings. In that process, we may discover that they too have wrong perceptions. After listening to them fully, we have an opportunity to help them correct their wrong perceptions. If we approach our hurts this way, we have the chance to turn our fear and anger into opportunities for deeper, more honest relationships.

–  Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm by Thich Nhat Hanh

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