11/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Action Or Reaction: How To Turn Anger To Love and Truth

Anger goes with the human condition. It's a misunderstanding to think we're not supposed to have anger. Anger goes with the territory of being human. But there's more to anger and more we can do with our anger than simply react. We can choose to free ourselves from anger and turn anger into action through our loving.

Who you are, your true self, is free of all the conditions, including the condition of anger. In truth, you are free of anger. On a personal level you may not feel free of anger. You may be caught up in it. You may be actively dealing with anger. On a spiritual level, on a true self level, you are free of it. You've always been and will always be free of anger spiritually.

What does that mean? It means that you don't have to react in anger or toward anger. You don't have to pick up on anger, intensify it in your own way, and then express it. You can simply say, "I'm aware of the anger, and what I do with the anger is I choose to clear it from me."

What does it take to clear the anger? Let's say it takes a certain level of mastery --- a mastery that is available to you. It's simply your choice. If you want to be involved in anger, you can be involved. That's part of your freedom. You're free to choose into the anger. You're also free to say, "No, thanks."

What if someone says, "Well, my anger is because of you. I'm doing this because of what you did. Because of what you said, you deserve this. And I'm going to do what you did to me."

You can still say, "Pass. No, thanks." One of my favorite expressions is "Ole!" So if the bull charges, you can choose to move and get out of the way. Even if you're directing the anger towards yourself, it works the same way. You can get out of the way of your own anger.

Consider this: What good is anger doing for you, really? Anger is an emotion, an energy that is aberrant and distorted. It is a stilted energy.

One option is to transform your anger to determination. That would be a good move. For example, maybe it's a great time to clean the car and use all that intense energy to get the smudges off. Maybe it's time to use that energy for a vigorous workout or a spontaneous walk.

When you're feeling angry, obviously that's not a great time to move towards closeness or intimacy with a loved one. Maybe the anger has got a hold of you. Maybe you're the one who feels like charging like a bull. There is value in acknowledging the upset before it builds up to a costly reaction. By acknowledging anger and upset early, there is more opportunity for you to adjust and help those around you to adjust.

Perhaps it's best to move out of the situation rather than let anger and upset become the issue. Move to a neutral corner and realize, "I'm feeling anger. It's mine. I'm dealing with it. This is not the best time for me to be intimate with anyone."

You can choose to give advance warning to your loved ones, like, "If I leave the room and I don't say anything, that probably means I'm upset. It's not the best time for us to make a decision together." Later you can deal with them and the issues without allowing anger to direct your responses.

Another key for action rather than reaction in anger is to be honest. First, be honest with yourself. Reacting in anger alone doesn't resolve things. Acting in ways that work with everyone and everything is what helps. Seeking understanding helps. Learning about what is affecting others without choosing to react helps. Seeking patience helps. Looking for what is currently valuable helps. Looking to what can help, helps.

What is anger really about? It's usually about things like, "I didn't expect this. I didn't want this." What's going on underneath those thoughts?

You want to know what the anger is about? Love is missing. Someone is missing the love. Maybe you are the one missing the love.

So look for the opportunity to love. Perhaps the choice to love seems hard, especially if you're one who's missing it. It's quite ordinary to find the choice to love is difficult at times. It's ordinary to find others who have difficulty with loving. You can endure until loving is present. How?

You can endure until loving is present for you. We are just bringing our awareness to the loving. It is our choice to love and look for the loving.

We are all free beings who can make the choice and commitment to love. Why love when other choices like anger are calling? Love is always the choice that knows best. Endure to love.

If your truth tells you that your love takes you in a certain direction you can make that your decision and commitment. Follow the truth that is love. That's what I follow. Go to where the love that is truth takes you. Loving is the only experience I've known that can go everywhere into any condition and maintain itself. Love is never compromised. What does that mean, practically speaking?

As best I can, I love fervently with my full dedication and devotion. Do I always make it? No. Sometimes I have failed miserably. Failure in my loving means that I have come across an experience that has taken me off track from my loving nature. I find out I'm human. I falter. I slip. I turn away. I forget.

I have traveled around the world visiting many different people and cultures, and I have concluded that there are many of us here who don't always choose the loving. I've asked others, face-to-face honestly, "Do you ever falter? Do you ever slip? Do you ever have moments when you forget the loving? When you don't act in loving? I've been told time and again, "Yes."

Faltering in our loving is universal. To me, it is a sign of the perfection. There's something about that perfection that calls us to love and to do the best we can to love.

Maybe you need to learn to ask for what you want in your life and take action based on what you want, not in reaction to what you don't want or didn't expect. Maybe you need to grow by discovering inside what you want, and then acknowledging and expressing what you truly want. Eloquence in your expression is not required. Honesty is required.

What does that honesty represent? It represents the true self as best we can represent it, express it, and communicate it. The true self is nothing for any of us to be afraid of. The true self is not an angry, terrible beast we must keep penned up and sealed. The true self is beautiful and magnificent. That's the truth of every true self. That's the truth of your true self. And your true self thrives and acts in love.


John Morton is the Spiritual Director of The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA) and you can reach his website at He is the author of The Blessings Already Are and You Are the Blessings.