About this blogger:
Ronda Chervin received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Fordham University and an MA in Religious Studies from Notre Dame Apostolic Institute. A widow, mother, and grandmother, she currently teaches philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut. Write to her at chervinronda@gmail.com.
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“When we force a boy to be a mediocrity in a dozen subjects we destroy his standards, perhaps for life.”
— C. S. Lewis

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Day 78: The Challenge of Observing Peacefulness and Anger
published 20 March 2012 by Dr. Ronda Chervin

What you will read now is part of a series of 100 spiritual challenges. Each blog can be viewed separately, but for maximum benefit a reader needs to start with the introductory blog of November 18, 2011, and then continue step by step. Day One begins on Sunday, November 20, 2011.    [ Click here for 100 STEPS ]

Theme 12 The Challenge of Letting Go of Anger so as to become Lovingly Peaceful

“My peace I give you…” (John 14:27)

We already had a week, the third one of the Way of Love: Step by Step, opening ourselves to loving forgiveness to overcome resentment. That week was primarily about large causes of anger. This week is more about every day irritations that seem to make peace nothing but an impossible ideal. Yet Jesus offers us peace. Think how wonderful it feels to be with a person who is genuinely peaceful. It is so soothing.

To embrace the peace of Jesus we have to expunge certain habits of anger such as refusal to accept the crosses of our workplace or our home or our parish that we cannot change. To be peaceful we have to avoid the critical spirit that comes from perfectionism. In his program Recovery International, the psychiatrist Abraham Low emphasizes the necessity of accepting the average of our own and others’ behavior patterns. This doesn’t mean everyone is right or okay. Not at all. But, as I would put it, we should not expect ourselves or others to be perfect unless there is a major reason for conversion. That reason is rarely our displeasure. Instead of fretting and fuming, we need to employ humor or work around the obstacles caused by the faults of others. We need to think of others not so much as fallen idols but as funny little creatures. The attitude of realism brings peace. A realist expects a lot to be difficult each day with circumstances and personalities. But he or she likes to meet problems not with anger but with solutions!

A big cause of anger identified by Dr. Low is taking everything bad that happens as personally directed against oneself. Someone doesn’t smile at me. What is more likely? That the person who ignored me suddenly decided to reject me or that he or she is preoccupied, busy, or had a headache? On one of our Step by Step days this week you will get a chance to practice trying to understand people’s motives better instead of reacting right away with anger.

The most subtle aspect of anger that Dr. Low pinpointed is called symbolic victory. Because we feel weak and powerless in many situations, such as bad drivers on the road, we try to feel stronger and more powerful through sarcasm. Cursing or giving another driver the finger is not a real victory. It doesn’t stop the other driver for unsafe practices. It is only a “symbolic” victory – that is a fake way to feel superior. Much gossip and sarcasm has that unfruitful result. We feel superior when talking about others. We certainly don’t feel more loving! By contrast, a peaceful person gives God the annoyance, pain, and sufferings caused by bad behavior of others and then peacefully waits to see if there is a grace-filled way to overcome evil with good. How much more loving than cursing drivers would be to help train drivers in one’s own family to follow the law.

To find out more about the books of Dr. Abraham Low and the free self-help groups he started to overcome anger, anxiety and depression, go to www.info@lowselfhelpsystems.org

Day 78: The Challenge of Observing Peacefulness and Anger

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (James 1:19)

Dr. Ronda’s examples: I was pleased to be able to report that after some 17 years of being part of Recovery, International for anger, fear, and depression, I really don’t go into a rage any more unless all my buttons are pushed. Since they weren’t pushed, I had a really peaceful day in spite of an incident that I would have blown up into a huge crisis if I was the former me! Of course this is not just because of psychological insight and more common sense but God’s grace working on my nature. My nature will always be choleric, but that doesn’t mean that anger will dominate my daily life as it used to do.

Your examples:

My prayer: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for all the wisdom you have drummed into me in the last decades. Thank you for every moment of peace I wouldn’t have without these graces of wisdom and pure infused liberation. Please, keep it coming!

Your prayer:

Read more blog entries by Dr. Ronda Chervin by visiting RondaView. Dr. Ronda Chervin has many free e-books and audios on her website, rondachervin.com. If you go to her website and read or listen and then want to correspond with her she will be available. Her schedule does not permit, however, responding to comments on the Blog, though she enjoys reading them. Dr. Ronda’s newest project is spiritualityrunningtogod.com.

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