The strength of my emotional reaction to a problem is correlated with how closely that situation gets to touching my personal wounds.
We all have wounds, whether from serious trauma in our lives or from the all-too-common mini-tragedies of being human in a broken world. If we don’t truly heal from a wound, we find ways to escape the pain. We cover it up with distractions, numbing agents, and/or with our anger. But once covered, we do not want to uncover a wound. There is great pain locked up behind that closet door.
Note: Anger often serves as a substitute for other emotions we don’t want to feel. It feels much better to be angry than to be hurt, afraid, or defeated.
Therefore, when we have a very strong reaction to something, it is telling us more about ourselves than it is about the situation. Sure, the situation might be frustrating or inappropriate. But it is possible to handle difficult situations with calm wisdom. There are some difficult situations in your life where you probably can do that easily. When your emotions flare up, it’s revealing something about the landscape of your heart.
So, we have two options: 1) Justify the strong emotion by blaming others or the situation—and continue to have our life path charted by our efforts to avoid these wounds; 2) Open the closet door, rip off the band-aid, do the hard work of deep healing—and finally be free to choose the path, whether or not it steers close to a former wound.
And that’s the memo.
By a friend and ally Scott Wozniak