“Hello this is Secondary High Grammar School here, we just thought we ought to let you know your son / daughter has been …………….”
“Oh No! Surely not, they wouldn’t do that” (would they?)
“Afraid so, they did admit it in the heads office”
The first sign that your cherub may be turning into a troubled teen (T.T.) may be heralded by the start of a series of phone calls from school.
(Of course this may not be the first time, we may have already experienced this in primary school, in which case we are now about to enjoy Series 2, which is likely to have twice as many episodes now hormones have kicked in.)
Shock! Horror! Embarrassment! Shame!
You can hardly believe it. (Sick feeling in stomach). You didn’t bring them up to behave in this way. This bears no relation to the values you taught them. How could they possibly do this?
Just wait until they get through that door tonight……..
At this point, various thoughts go through our minds, ranging from “surely they couldn’t have, must be some mistake, they must have owned up for someone else”…to ..”Right, they’re grounded, no x-box, no pocket money…….”
Initially we probably do feel in shock, still unbelieving, until the words of the teacher go round and round in our head enough times for us to arrive at the inevitable conclusion that it must be true.
We think and rethink so many times that when they get in from school we are like a lion waiting to pounce.
They arrive home blissfully unaware that you know anything about their misdemeanors, looking completely innocent and hard-done-to as you pounce.
Problem is, no matter what your opening line is:
“How’s school, any news? Anything to tell me?”
“So, what have you been up to today?”
“I had a call from school today.”
“How dare you?”
They continue to look completely innocent and hard-done-by!
You are likely to get replies such as:
“And…”…”So…”….”Whatever…”…What of it..?”
(Still without a flicker of concern or remorse.)
You may, of course, get a long wieldy reply, resembling something like an Alice in Wonderland tale, giving a convoluted bizarre story, supposedly illustrating that naturally this was the only course of action they could possibly have taken.
(Who swapped my child?)
By now, you have turned a nice puce colour, billowing steam from the ears (and possibly flames from the nose)!
You are totally thrown off guard, and either speechless, or bellowing out a mish-mash of retaliatory words and sentences…and then what?
Either they join in with the angry tirade and then storm off, slamming doors, or they shrug their shoulders, say “Whatever”, and go to hibernate in their bedroom.
By now, you probably have a pounding headache and need to lie down. How come you are feeling so bad when you are the aggrieved party? What did you ever do except try to bring them up properly and do your best for them.
We feel we have completely lost control of the situation and what’s worse is, they know it. They know if they can get us to this point again, they are safely enjoying “The Loophole”, that space we get ourselves into when effective reasoning and / or discipline fly out of the window.
Why is this? Because we have been overwhelmed by the delusional mind of Anger. (In Buddhist terminology,’ delusion’ refers to a negative state of mind that disturbs / destroys our happiness. It is important to understand that we are not our delusions, we don’t identify ourself as being one and the same as our delusions and we do not label ourself as a delusion i.e. we think ‘ I have a lot of anger arising in my mind ‘ instead of ‘ I am an angry person’, we must identify with our potential to be a positive peaceful person. More on this in later article.)
“But surely anger is natural in these circumstances”, I hear you say.
But what is ‘natural’, and what is ‘useful’ or ‘beneficial’ to ourselves (and others) is not often the same thing.
Firstly we need to understand a little about anger. Anger is a response to unpleasant feelings which arise when we encounter difficult circumstances. It is
“One of the most common and destructive delusions, and it afflicts our mind almost every day”
(Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. How to Solve our Human Problems)
This very pervasive delusion can appear as anything from a slight feeling of annoyance when we are delayed at the checkout, to the full blown hot and steaming rage.
We focus on something, or someone, we don’t like and want to get rid of it. Our anger blinds us to every aspect of the situation or person, other than that which we don’t like, and we see only intrinsic faults, ignoring any other possible perspective or good qualities, no wonder we call it ‘blind rage’.
Anger takes its hold on us and forces us to act in negative harmful ways towards ourselves and others, destroying any peace or happiness in our minds. We are out of control and lose all sense of reason. How many friendships, families and relationships have been torn apart due to deeds or words expressed with a mind of anger. How much pain has been caused?
How often have we thought : “Oops, gone too far, shouldn’t have done / said that” ?
We sometimes feel quite righteous – “well they deserved it – now I feel better!” But do we?
Anger is a painful mind and we often find after letting rip that we can’t settle, relax, eat or sleep, our mind is too disturbed. It also leads to physical problems, tension and pain.
So who are we harming most?
What can we do about it?
We need to learn to watch our minds and notice when the first stirrings of anger appear, if we can quash them here, that’s great. (If not, hang on for Part 2 coming soon!)
(It’s important not to confuse this with repressing or burying our anger, this wont help, it will just build up then erupt like Vesuvius.)
It’s a bit like taking our car to the garage with a problem, if the mechanic doesn’t look under the bonnet the problem will never get fixed. If he looks but ignores the problem he finds, the problem won’t get fixed. In both cases it will likely get worse. Furthermore if he finds the problem and beats himself up over it then we just have an incapacitated mechanic! Similarly, we need to look at and recognize the anger in our mind, see how it makes us act, how we lose control and make a decision to try and control it, without being too hard on ourselves.
See Part 2 for the next step…coming soon.