102 QUESTION: What is healthy anger?
ANSWER: Healthy anger is objective, when justice is at stake. It makes you assert yourself. It makes you fight for what is good and true – whether the issue is your own or another’s, or for a principle. You may even feel objective anger about a very personal issue, while projecting a subjective emotion upon a general issue. It is impossible to determine whether or not the emotion is healthy anger by looking only at the issue itself. Healthy anger feels very different from the unhealthy kind.
Unhealthy anger poisons your system. It calls forth your defenses and is at the same time a product of them. Healthy anger will never make you tense and guilty and ill at ease. Nor will it compel you to justify yourself. Healthy anger will never weaken you.
Any healthy feeling will give you strength and freedom, even if the outward feeling appears to be negative, while an apparently positive feeling may weaken you if it is dishonest, if displacement and subterfuge are at work. If your anger leaves you freer and stronger and less confused, then it is a healthy anger. Unhealthy anger is always a displacement of an original emotion. Healthy anger is a direct emotion.
QUESTION: Is that the wrath of God in the Old Testament?
ANSWER: Yes, that is right.
QUESTION: Does that have anything to do with righteous indignation?
ANSWER: Yes, that is also healthy anger. But my friends, be very careful in your self-examination. When you have an outer issue in which you may be utterly justified in feeling angry, that still may not mean that what you feel is healthy anger. The only way to determine that is by the effect your anger has on you and others. Only you can determine the truth. Only utter candor with yourself will enable you to distinguish between them.
133 QUESTION: Do I understand you correctly that aggression is sometimes a good thing?
ANSWER: Yes, there is a healthy aggression. Healthy anger does exist. These are byproducts of the interim stage of human nature. Healthy anger must occasionally be expressed in a well-integrated life. Healthy anger does not create inner disharmony. It is a great misunderstanding to ignore or deny this fact. The denial comes from the artificial holding together of one’s inner forces, and from superimposing false goodness. It is a false belief born of fear and obedience that occasional anger never exists in a truly spiritually evolved person.
In the human realm, healthy anger is a necessity. Without anger, there would be no justice and no progress. The destructive forces would take over. Allowing this takeover to happen is weakness, not love; fear, not goodness; appeasing and encouraging abuse, not constructive living. It destroys harmony rather than furthering it. It destroys healthy growth.
Anger can be as healthy and necessary an occasional reaction as love is. It forms part of love. It too comes spontaneously. It too cannot be forced. Trying to force or deny any emotion leads to self-deception which then may take the form of pretending that unhealthy anger is the healthy version.
The cause cannot determine whether the emotion elicited is healthy or unhealthy anger. The cause may entirely justify real, genuine, healthy anger which is, needless to say, constructive in this case. Yet, the anger experienced may be the unhealthy kind because of the personality’s unresolved problems, insecurity, guilts and doubts, uncertainties and contradictions. The issue itself may warrant justified anger, but an individual may not be able to express that kind.
To the extent that an individual is capable of experiencing and expressing real love, he or she is capable of manifesting constructive, healthy anger. Both real love and real anger come from the inner self. Absolutely any real feeling is healthy and constructive and furthers growth in the self and in others. Real feelings cannot be forced, commanded or superimposed. They are a spontaneous expression, happening as an organic, natural result of self-confrontation.
QUESTION: In that case, would you permit physical violence?
ANSWER: No. Healthy anger does not necessarily manifest in physical violence. Expression of negative emotions, even when they are not healthy, need not in the least lead to destructive acts, either physical or otherwise.
This is one of the most frequent and hindering misconceptions in the Pathwork. This is why I have mentioned it again and again ever since the beginning, because no matter how many times I have said it, it is forgotten. The inner psyche fears that acknowledgement of negative emotions must lead to acting them out. This is not so.
On the contrary, you are free to choose whether or not to act, how and when, or to express any emotion, only when you are fully aware. When you are not aware of what you really feel and why, you are constantly driven and suffer from all sorts of compulsions you cannot understand. A compulsion is the direct result of unacknowledged, unconscious feelings and conditions.
The more you know yourself, the more you are in control of yourself. It is not, as you say in fear, “I cannot look at myself in candor because then I may have to let out these undesirable impulses and do harm to others and therefore ultimately to myself.” This vague reaction also has to be brought to the surface in order to dispel it and render it ineffective.
Please repeat this in your daily meditation, all of you: “Awareness of what I feel, no matter how undesirable it may be, will make me free. I will have the choice of my actions only to the degree of my awareness. If I choose to verbally express these feelings when there is a good purpose, such as with my Helper, I will do so. If I feel that such expression may impair a relationship, I will not do so, but will withhold it knowingly and without self-deception.” Such meditation will strengthen the knowledge and finally penetrate the more hidden and resistant layers of your psyche.
It is entirely mistaken to assume that awareness of anger and even verbal expression of it results in physical violence or in any other form of destruction – whether the anger be healthy or unhealthy. Healthy anger, since it comes from the real self, knows just what to do and when to meet the necessary requirements of the moment.
QUESTION: What about people who are violently persecuted? What should be their attitude?
ANSWER: The instinct of self-preservation will most certainly make them fight and defend themselves against such occurrence, whether by counterattack or by flight. The healthier the whole personality, the more certainly does this instinct function in choosing the right defense at the right time. This again is not an intellectual consideration, but, as always, a spontaneous manifestation of the real self. If necessary, such counterattack and defense will also be physical.
QUESTION: Regarding expression of anger, I find it unbearable.
ANSWER: Sometimes it is inadvisable; sometimes it is advisable. This is what I mean. When you are aware you have the choice, and when you are not aware, you do not have the choice. The more you are aware of the possibility of making a choice, the more freedom you gain and the less you will feel or think that restraint is due to outer demands, outer authority. With the awareness that you are making a free choice, rebellion against restraint becomes superfluous.
There is a great difference if restraint is exercised because of demands from the outer world, or because you choose it with your own free will. Paradoxical as this may seem again, the more you choose restraint willingly, with alert reasoning and constructive motivation, the freer you become. It is not, as might be supposed, that the less self-restraint there is, the freer the person.
The more directly you are aware of what you really feel, and express it, if you so choose, the less you will become entangled in detours and evasions. Directly reaching the core of one’s feelings or reactions, and thereby understanding their true significance, is the art and the aim of this Pathwork.
If your aim is finished perfection, you still find yourself caught in perfectionism, which hinders your progress. But if your aim becomes to know what is it you really feel at this moment, then you have a realistic aim leading to instant release, truth, harmony and dynamic progress.
Again, a seeming contradiction: the more you go to the spot of whatever happens to be true now, the more you grow into real perfection. The more you strain away from what you now feel and think, in an attempt to be more than you happen to be in this instant, the less you grow toward your goal of gradually achieved perfection. These words should also be used in daily meditation because they are a key for all of you.
QUESTION: What about the reverse of what you have just said? What about the person who is afraid or too insecure to show righteous anger? What is happening to love in this situation?
ANSWER: This is a very good question. Where there is fear of expressing a justified anger, to that degree there must be fear of loving. Behind both fears is confusion, misconception, illusion. It is these misinterpreted hurts and pains which are responsible for the foreign nucleus I was talking about.
This nucleus obstructs the manifestations of the real self, the outflow of genuine love as opposed to superimposed love, and of the capacity to express healthy anger as opposed to twisted, tortured anger. When insecurity makes a person too anxious to express justified anger, that individual is as yet incapable of feeling healthy anger. When the issue justifies anger, insecurity induces conflicting feelings.
Healthy anger makes you stronger; twisted anger makes you weaker. Healthy love is all-embracing and enriches you the more you give out of yourself. Sickly, distorted, false love impoverishes and breeds conflict between self-interest and the interests of others. It comes from and increases duality; it always opposes the good to the bad.
Ungenuine love is always connected with self-pity, resentment, hostility and conflict. There is in it always the feeling of, “I ought to love, therefore I think I love, yet I do not want to love because then I will be taken advantage of. Since I ought to love and do not want to, I feel guilty and am bad.” When you feel this way, you cannot express healthy anger. It is dissipated at the source, for you doubt your right to feel anger, since you do not dare to love.
If you continue to struggle and to find the right expression of your feelings in the Now, you must experience the beauty of the universe, the truth of being which knows no conflict. That truth combines loving with receiving one’s full share of happiness, instead of mutually excluding either love or happiness, as seems inevitable when love is attempted by outer goodwill.
When, however, you use outer goodwill in order to recognize that behind your trying to love lies a non-love born of fear, hurt and illusion, then in the way of finding out what these illusions are, you must finally come to real love, your real self, the genuine expression of all you feel and are – which will be good and right.
QA138 QUESTION: Can one feel honestly angry?
ANSWER: Yes! There is a healthy anger. Now, I cannot make rules or give explanations in what outer incidents, what outer provocations, would elicit healthy or unhealthy anger, for this is impossible. The outer issue might be an issue where one might say that it is perfectly healthy to feel angry about such and such, yet you might feel unhealthy anger and vice versa.
The only way you can differentiate is in what it feels inside. Now, let me try to describe the difference, for, you see, it is possible that you might be perfectly justified and it would be a very healthy emotion, and originally, if you would know it, it would be healthy anger. But your doubt and your idea that you shouldn’t feel anger may turn it into unhealthy anger, plus all sorts of other deviations and difficulties and problems and conflicts within you.
And now I come to a description or an attempt to describe, as much as this is possible, what is the difference, how the difference feels within.
Unhealthy anger weakens you. Healthy anger strengthens you. Unhealthy anger makes you waver; healthy anger makes you determined and firm. Unhealthy anger has a feeling of torture in your solar plexus. It produces anxiety and hostility. It makes you waver between “should you hold back” or “should you express.” It always creates and confronts you with a conflict. It is a trap.
It creates frustration, and it breeds more frustration, for you do not know what to do. It is a product of the situation in which you are trapped, or think yourself trapped. And because you somehow lack integrity or courage in one way or another, you must submit – or believe you must submit – to something in order to get what you want.
You feel your psyche is partly brittle, and partly it is so soft and over-malleable that you feel it is completely without resiliency. Everything that touches you in this anger – from outside and from within yourself – is so deeply indented there that you cannot lose it.
Healthy anger has a very definite course. There is no doubt about the course to take, either outwardly in what you intend to do or inwardly in the feelings. You cannot submit, nor will you be tempted to exert forcing currents or aggression. It is a feeling of determination that gives you more dignity, more freedom.
The anger is always partly at yourself, not in a self-destroying way, but in a way that makes you come up clearer, freer, stronger – in a way where you’re angry that “how could you in the past have allowed yourself and others to prevent you from your birthright. How could you in the past have ignored your human dignity and ignored your value as an individual?”
It is this kind of feeling that is healthy anger that gives you an exact course – without fanaticism, without rigidity, with a very free feeling.
QA177 QUESTION: I’m beginning to wonder whether there’s such a thing as a genuine reason for a warlike situation or a real confrontation. I’ve been exposed to a situation where the person that I’m involved with, I feel, is distorted about a certain issue. And the only choice I have is either to leave the person or confront the person, and it becomes like a state of war. What I usually do is give in so that the situation subsides. So I was wondering whether it is possible to have a healthy type of war?
ANSWER: Yes, there is. But, you see, actually it’s just a different way of saying: Is there healthy aggression? Is there healthy anger? Of course there is. I have said this many, many times. The inability to be angry also paralyzes the ability to assert your rights and yourself. You are then involved in a mutual war, where each fulfills his own end of it.
If you value yourself and if you realize your own innermost rights for happiness, for being loved, – which, of course, are the result, because your ability to love and give is more and more strengthened – and as that grows, your right to receive love and consideration grows, and you have a right to assert this. And as this right grows, you will not get involved in the outer fringes of the role-playing or the game-playing. You will go through it. You will not let it happen.
You will go to the root of the issue, and you will have that strength and that focus. So here, where you get bogged down, is really your not knowing you have that right. You are hooked on that because your own inner hidden anger – the negative, punishing, indirect, concealed, sly anger – prevented you from real loving. And therefore you could not assert your right to be loved.
This is the correlation here. And, therefore, you could not be healthily angry. The way out of it is that you first accept the poisonous anger. Then the healthy anger will make itself known.
QUESTION: On the enlarged scale, is it a parallel that different nations have that?
ANSWER: Of course. When people or nations are in a state of war, it is already a result of a long-time confusion. So hurt is inevitable in this sphere of consciousness. It is only a question of which hurt leads to health and which hurt is a weakness and an expression of fear and will lead to a more unhealthy state. That choice has to be made before one can come out of hurt at all.