How Do I…

SOME QUESTIONS FROM a friend.  “How do you just quit being jealous?  How do you just quit being angry? “

It took me just forty years to quit.  I found that when I was left by one I loved, or when I was angry, the same thing happened in my mind, always the same words: You’re frightened.  You’re going to lose something!  Protect it!

After slipping into protecting without thinking, decade after decade, I decided that I didn’t like feeling  jealousy and anger.  Finally I asked, feeling helpless, “Well, what am I going to lose?

“I’ll lose her, is what!” I said.

“Oh?” Another voice in my mind, my high spiritual self.  “Can you answer my questions?”

“Of course I’ll answer.  I’m jealous and angry, but I’ll answer if you don’t require a page to listen.”

“Three questions.”

“You can take ten, but three is a third better.”

“Thank you,” and it paused.  “Do you love her?”

“Silly spirit!  Of course I love her.  I wouldn’t be with her if I…”

“You don’t have to explain.  The answer is enough.  Next question.  Do you want her to be happy?

“Sill… yes!  I want her to be…”

“Third question: Do you trust her to make her own decisions about her happiness?

A short silence.  “I do.”

Long silence.

“What?”  I said.

“Are you jealous now?”

I love her, I thought.  I want her to be happy.  Of course I trust her to make her own decisions.

Highspeed thinking:

If I don’t love her, I can be jealous (but why would I want to be with her if I didn’t love her?)

If I don’t want her to be happy I can be jealous (but do I want her to stay with me when I don’t want her happy?)

If I don’t trust her, I can be jealous (but why would I want to love someone whose choices I don’t like?)

“Well, of course I’m still…”   Where was that feeling that was twisting my heart?  “…well, of course…”  It was gone!  “What did you do with my jeal…  Oh.  Thank you.”

Three questions my spirit self had asked.  Any No told me that I didn’t want to be close to one I thought I loved.  All Yesses told me whatever she decides to do about her happiness is what I want for her, too.  If I’m happy for her to be with another guy, and she can be with me when she wants to be.

(Historical footnote: I found in my heart, that I didn’t really like all her choices.  Jealousy gone.  Romantic relationship gone.)

Those three questions have worked for me: one, two, three; ever since.  No jealousy since.

Anger?  Can one just decide not to be angry?  Can one decide not to be afraid?  Isn’t anger always fear?  If I’m not frightened, I cannot be angry.  Same question the minute a conflict arises: I’m afraid!  I’m going to lose something!  Protect it!

How do I protect, I said, what do I do…

“Don’t do anything,” said the spirit. “We do without a word, no fear, no anger required.  You can disappear, you can  resist, you can choose swords, all so calm.  But for anger, for fear, you need words.”

Words.  “Without words, I’ll lose this discussion, the argument,” my protoanger self ssaid, “and everyone will think he won!  And don’t you see?  He’s saying that he’s right about evil spirits and I know there’s no such thing…he’ll win unless I say something aggressive and powerful!”

“What am I going to lose?” the spirit said.  “Nothing.  An argument doesn’t prevail in words, it prevails in your own inner decisions.”

How had I been dragged into a land of words, I thought, a place I had no reason to be!  Move to my own land:

“You may be right.”  And all at once there was nothing to be angry about.  He may be right.  Not in my heart, but in his.

“Richard,”  the spirit tested me.  “What if he says, ‘You’re a prince of the devil, you’re a demon, because….’”

Stay on my own land.

“Could be,” I said.  “I could be a demon.”   No anger, a smile instead.

“Now he can say anything, he can say, ‘And you’re the Antichrist!’”

“Maybe so.”  Words.  When someone wants to win, let them win.  I have my own ideas, others have theirs.  I don’t need to convince anyone that what they think or what I think is right or it’s wrong.

When the Internet happened, there were words in long-term print, some true, some not…truths and lies.  It was the same for me, just the same as for everyone chatted about on the Web.  Why makes me think words told about me have to be true?   It could be, from the printed words in Google, that the President of the United States is an alien, a reptilian from outer space.   Well, why can’t I be an alien from the Pleiades or a daisy from the meadow?  I don’t have to be angry for the President, or for me.  Anything could be true, in other minds.

“So what if someone appears in my home out of the dark,” said my never-want-to-lose mortal mind, “and plans to kill me and my loved one and my puppy?  Should I not be angry?”

“No anger required.  No words, only action for the intruder,” said my advanced spiritual inner spirit, which I guess knows everything.  “Just shoot ‘im.”

32 thoughts on “How Do I…

  1. Just shoot ’em. ha. One of the challenges for me this year has been to let go of anger. A sibling turned their back on me for no apparent reason, I was angry and hurt and wanted to yell the truth: I didn’t do anything!! But that would accomplish nothing. I had to let the anger go, let the relationship go, and just accept. When people make plans and I make commitments to their plans, and then they change the plans as if I had no stake in it…oh, the anger! But it solves nothing. Anger only hurts me. So, I chose not be be hurt, I let anger go, and I smile as I pull out my mental six shooter and have at ’em.

  2. Good timing for me. I’ve been working on this over the past months. And what an amazing difference! Though the internet has long been much easier for me, as far as no anger is concerned. I still remember someone, years ago, telling me on a forum that I was going to “hell”. She wasn’t anyone I knew, just someone interested in my spiritual beliefs. Possibly the reason I remember it is because I had no interest in arguing or being angry at her. After all, how can someone else’s beliefs harm me?

    As for the anger-turned-fear, it’s still a work in progress. But it’s a lot of fun practicing! Strange though, the things most people seem to have the most problems with are the things I sail through. Yet I can go from calm to sheer dread should something break down! Practice, practice…

  3. Well, thank you for this…my grandmother used to tell me that jealousy was “insanity on the installment plan”, and I seemed to have grokked her meaning and successfully applied it to my life. But…anger. Your words do help me there. I believe I’ll take a heaping serving of ‘you may be right’, smile and just continue my own doing, my own internally motivated action and stay on my own land.

  4. Holding on to anger is like holding burning hot coal in your hands. The only person it hurts is you. You are exactly what you’re thinking. I have these words all around me in various forms just in case I forget, and when I become emotionally involved in any situation, it’s very easy to forget. When I’m angry, jealous, or mad about something that someone says or does, I have to remind myself that it’s not what the person said or did, it’s how I respond to that person, and that I have complete control over my own life and reactions. If you’re unhappy, jealous or angry, it’s because your thoughts are creating those emotions. You can’t change anyone else, and you can knock yourself out trying, but you can change yourself by changing the way you think. You can always walk away from any person or situation that makes you unhappy. Of course if someone is threatening your life in anyway, that’s when your instincts take command and you do whatever it takes to survive.

  5. Richard, thank you for baring your thoughts to us, so we can learn from your experiences. The death of an intimate relationship tears at the soul in a way like no other. Jealousy can be difficult to overcome. I’m glad you were able to do that. It took me a long time to acknowledge I was angry at something or someone. I called it something else because anger was a sin when I was a kid. So first, I needed to acknowledge it, and then I worked on dissolving it. When it rises again, I release it ad infinitum.

    You mentioned loneliness in your earlier blog and that you were working on that. I’m assuming, and you know what they say about assuming, that the loneliness was/is in part due to the loss of the intimate relationship you are speaking of here.

    You have helped so many of us in so many ways. I hope we can help you as you need it, by mirroring back to you, the caring and compassion you’ve extended to us.

  6. I find that I have never been able to “just quit” feeling a negative emotion. I can’t simply sweep it out the door. I must acknowledge it. I must not judge it. I must understand the underlying reason for it. And then I must release its control over me. I’m not sure whether my thoughts create my emotions or my emotions create my thoughts. I do know, however, that they must form a partnership for me to shift my perspective and transform my life.

  7. Brilliant..thanks for sharing. I love the three questions and of course the reality check re the intruder..just shoot certainly made me smile and think that some situations just need action

  8. The most difficult thing to learn in life is that we create and allow our own happiness. It cannot be dependent upon someone else’s presence, happiness, approval, attention or anything else. You don’ have to agree with all of her decisions. You don’t have to like them. You may not even be able to speak to her for a while, and that’s ok if it’s so. It does not change your love, at all.
    It’s amazing no matter how much we think we know about ourselves, how much we think we’ve learned, we often relearn the same lessons over and over again in each lifetime, sometimes several times. That’s ok, too. Each time the lesson unfolds, there are little tiny micro adjustments that help clarify and give perspective.
    I wish you nothing but peace, Richard, as your books have given me much of it in this lifetime as well.

    • Rebecca K

      Lessons can be especially hard, depending on how they present themselves. When my brother murdered his neighbors, it took me years to overcome the shock, horror, fear, etc. It also took a long time for me to learn to cope with the fact that my extended family wasn’t there for me at all, even though they were extremely religious. I’d been raised family was everything. My parents were wonderful people. But….

      As a result I became a writer. My best lessons have come from the various sources of hell in my life. I’m glad for the lessons, but it’s been a very tiring lifetime.

      In any case, I set myself free to be myself, regardless of what anyone else thinks. That is pure gold.

        • Thank you, Richard. You are always a source of compassion and inspiration. I honor you and the others here as well. We each have a story that has brought us here, to this place in our growth cycle. I changed the name of the book about the murders, worked it into the story and sent it to my agent again. Hopefully, this time he can find the right home for it. In the next couple of days I plan to send a query to the head dude at Turner Publication. This is going to work. So many need the message, failure is not an option.

      • We know so little, Vi, about the whys of things. One of the most difficult lessons I’ve learnt is that we are all part of a common soul. I used to judge, say certain things in the world had nothing to do with me. I would just turn my back and walk away. But I realized that I cannot walk away. Things, events, people I don’t like disappear only when I embrace them. I realized the darkness outside of me is part of me, too. And now I just feel love. I accepted the fact that I don’t know the whys, and the fact that we are all divine sparkles, even if I cannot see it. Even more when I cannot see it. I still find it hard sometimes, but when something so shocking happens I try to think I just see the surface, I don’t know how the Universe has planned things, and so I shouldn’t judge, it may well be we interpret things upside down. You’re so brave, Vi. I’m so glad you’re here with us.

        • Amelie,

          I’ve decided judging is a quick way out. If we judge we can put someone in a box somewhere and then go about our business, we limit ourselves as well. I think judging is probably part of the innate fight or flight response. But if we take time to learn compassion and kindness, there are no limits.

          Thank you for welcoming me. I just sent the query to Turner. With each submission there is a possibility. I always seek the highest good/outcome for my endeavors. There are people hurting everywhere for all kinds of reasons. If we can lighten that, even a little, maybe they can find the strength to go on. That’s my goal, to help others learn and grow beyond all the pain and to come to a place of inner peace and love.

      • Vi,
        I’m sorry to hear of all that, I’m sure it was incredibly difficult. As the daughter of a heroin addict, I’ve had my share of horrors as well. Taking those things and letting them make you into a better person, a creative person, it a beautiful thing. I’m glad you were able to move on and be free, as I have from my trials. Be well.

  9. Written words worthy of serious contemplation.
    When you mentioned the beginning of the internet, I was taken back to those heady days of the Compuserve forums. I had just missed your departure… but I recall getting caught up in the continuing conversations with other people who were close to you. Internet fledglings… we had so much to learn. So many others now, using so many different portals for what passes as communication, also have so much to learn… and are in need of the same lessons.

  10. Ever since this entry was posted i have been wondering how anger and jealousy, if any, play a role in my life. I came up with ionteresting findings. I used to think i was not someone who could be jealous as i usually want the other to be happy and free in their choices, etc….but recently, i discovered that i am jealous when it comes to friendships. I like to be engaged in conversation, or activity, with one person only at a time and i feel offended when that other includes several people in on the discussion. I think it is more of a territorial response-‘hey, this is my space…our space’ ..that is what my spirit self says. I feel that my space is an intimate one and i guess that is why i react the way i do.
    I could ask those three questions you put up and respond like you do, but when i go deeper, there are more feelings—less cerebral, and more instinctive. Maybe jealousy is not a good word for it….maybe it is, like you mentioned, a form of protection that is a caring one of our own value in the world. A recognition of our space….perhaps. It is because of this, that in a group setting, i would claim my space and then probably retreat to the back when i feel that the space has been intruded upon and not recognized. Hmnn….it is a good post here. I also have slight vindictive qualities attatched to that protection that end up fizzling out when i experience or read beautiful things like your work….

  11. I seem to have quit jealousy also. Not anger, though. Fortunately I rarely get angry. I quit about 9 years ago, when the man I loved then was acting in such a way that my heart was breaking. I had to stop and ask myself a few questions, too. Not the same ones as Richard. My higher inner self was quiet, as she usually is when I need her (she only talks to me when I don’t want to hear), so I had to ask myself those quesions. For me, they were something like: “Why are you so afraid?” I’m afraid of losing my identity. “Why?” “Does your identity depend on his wanting to be with you or somebody else?” Ummm, not really. HIS identity depends on his choices, not mine. Mine depends on my beliefs and choices. I don’t know why I felt it did. “Do you want to be this person, are you this jealous person?” NO, of course I am not. I don’t want to be like that, I am not like that! “Are you worth loving?” Sure I am. “Do you still want to be with him when he values your love so little?” No, I don’t. And I realized it was senseless. Not jealous. I asked him to leave, I told him I deserved better. It was such a relief. It was a hard lesson for me, having chosen also an abusive mother. It was difficult for me to see, but for some reason that lesson was important in my life. I am truly grateful. I love him for being my master on one of the most important lessons in my life. I deserve someone who loves me passionateley, tenderly and wisely. And he taught me that. He taught me that I am a “Perfect Expression of Perfect Love”, as a dear friend would say, no matter what. Despite, even, my false beliefs. And I should live up to that knowledge and understanding. He may think now that our marriage was a failure. But I don’t. I think it taught me an important lesson. It taught me to love myself in a way I didn’t know before. So I was never jealous again. If he wants to be with someone else, then he should go, and I feel grateful for the reminder: if I attract such a man, someone who’d rather be with someone else (being a mirror of what I feel), it is because I still can love myself better.

  12. Amelie,
    Excellent self-talk. Once upon a time the neighbor gal, who was sleeping anyone she could find, who she thought was worthy, was surprised when I told her that if my husband wanted to be with her, then he could. I did not own him. She said that was the most mature thing she had ever heard anyone say. Long story, not for this venue, but I felt good about myself and my relationship as a result. It’s that saying that was popular in the 70s – if you love something set it free….i it comes back to you, it’s yours…if it doesn’t it never was.

  13. When you mention words. I got a great relief with an idea I found in book The Fifth Agreement (Ruiz). My simple understanding: “Words are like colors and brushes used by artists.” So if anyone tells you any statement about you or things, etc. It is like presenting a picture s/he made. Do I have to argue his way of using colours ? If I have a point of view (like now:-)) do I need to push it ? We are just artists who met in space and time and share our art work, respecting each other.

  14. How about this: “I am not my emotions”. Try saying it different ways, play with it, see how the meaning changes. This seems to help me in times of emotional upheaval. Acknowledge the emotions, but realize that they do not form your entire being. *shrug*

  15. Dear Richard,
    thank you very much for giving so many inspirations and thought-provoking impulses by your very own point of view towards things such as freedom of choice. Nevertheless what you have pointed out concerning how to get rid of jealousy and anger after losing a loved one because she has decided to leave you does not work in my case.
    My girlfriend left me in jan this year after 4.5 years – not being able to tell why simply saying that she is not happy with me any more as she has been before.
    As a result I have been very jealous and deeply injured – 6 months before she told my mom that she would like me to propose marriage one day – we have made great plans where to live after university (taking me one more year and her 2 for postgraduation as a shrink after her graduation in psychology last year), family, building a house, children and stuff – already living together for more than 3 years.
    I mean we really planned our live together – and then she has ripped it up.
    Even when it hurted so badly, it is a matter of fact that when she has betrayed my trust and confidence so crucially I would never be able to take her back because of being unable to confide her any more.
    Arising anger is the major result. Anger because of different consequences: I have not been able to concentrate on any exam and missed all of them so I have lost more than 1 semester. I have not been able to do a good job as a senior sales director in a social media agency. I have had to change my place of living because of not being able to afford the flat we shared on just my own salary. The chaos beyond various common friends. And we used to make sports together. And what is the worth of the preceding 4.5 years after all when it does not leed to the life you are desiring. You are absolutely right when you say that there is gratis fear included: as long as we are not in the twenties any more how and where am I going to meet my personal ms supperright?
    Love has faded and so has jealousy – what has stayed is anger. Do I love her? No, not any more. Do I want her to be happy? In former times we have been happy together. Now I don´t care – I am interested in my own happiness. Do I think she can make her own decisions? The question is not if she can make a decision but if she can make an adequate decision. I mean if you realize that you are losing the feeling for the one you have loved – shouldn´t you talk to him about this and try real hard to figure out the reason(s) for this so that you are given an opportunity to save the relationship and even grow it? The more when you want to become a psychological therapist? This is what I deserved…
    I have been seeing some girls in the last 6 months testing the market – but this is only satisfying in short terms – what I really want is to make my dream of life happen. As dialling back is not possible I have to go on because new chances and opportunities are in the future – not the past. I do want to take off and I am so ready for pushback and taxi but I am still waiting for the anger to disappear and this turns out to be the biggest parking brake ever. My rationality tells me to lose the anger – and I make a rational plan – very consciously – to throw it away – but it happens to be that the anger is not impressed at all – and stays instead. So it seems that it simply needs time…

    Kind regards,


    • You’re right. The more we let jealousy and anger and hatred to play in our thought, the more chaotic our lives can become. We had other choices in the past, we have different choices now. So many decisions we can make, to thrive and to destroy the harmony of our lives. What adventures we choose!

    • Carsten,

      Have you tried writing a journal about it all? Everything you’ve written here and more. Pour out all your anger, your jealousy, your lack of understanding of what motivated her to do this in this way. You could keep track for a while, daily, hourly, if you are so inclined. I’ve done that. Then you know what I did? I burned the whole journal everything I had written. I watched the paper burn, making sure, of course, that it was in a place that wouldn’t burn down the house. It was a huge release.

      With me, when I was the most upset, sometimes I was unable to tell my beloved what I was upset about and why. Sometimes I tried to tell him, but he heard me wrong or took the conversation to places that weren’t where I was at all. Who knows what the case is with her, but for me, when it was time to move on, I knew it. A person’s work, their life goals are just at important to them as the person they spend intimate time with. I’ve loved guys who did not understand that. Whatever the case is with the woman, she is who she is. My thought now is that you need to learn to love yourself in a deep and abiding quiet way. The right relationships just appear. Trying to lasso them in usually means that we are pursuing the wrong one. Passion can come in spurts, but real love comes quietly like flowers in a meadow on a warm summer day.

  16. When I was 12 years old I was travelling across France on a train with my father, he gave me a book to read. It was “Illusions”, the first of your books I ever read. When ever see that blue feather I’m back on that train sitting next to him reading that book, me and him you and Shimoda, travelling cross country together.
    I’ve just discovered your website and am reading through the posts. It gives me immense hope. That in the face of the chaos of seeing airline wreckage in Ukrainian fields and Schools in the middle-east being blown up to know that there is some calmness and compassion out there. There are people who are not going to allow anger and jealousy to turn everything to ashes.
    A few months before I read that book I was punished at school and told to write a page on any subject that I liked. Strange, that a school would punish a child by asking him to do something creative, but I guess they knew how much I hated holding a pencil. I wrote a page about flying. I’d never actually flown in an aeroplane, but I just loved the way they looked, the sounds they made at the air shows my father took me to (Biggin Hill) I loved the adventures that aeroplanes took people on. I wanted to be a pilot. The teacher collected the paper and read it. “I’ll show this to the headmaster” he said. And that was that. The next day the headmaster read it out in assembly and the whole school applauded. At that moment I knew – I could write. I was going to write. Of course life soon got serious and I grabbed hold of a big bunch of responsibility and grew up. I forgot my mission. I forgot that the only responsibility was to know that the world is an amazing and wonderful place and that my mission was to tell people about it. Your posts (everyone’s) have inspired me. I’m going to write. It will be dreadful. I will have to practice. But I’m very happy to have been inspired to fail at giving it up. Thanks everyone. Thanks Richard. Do not crash anymore aeroplanes please!

    • Simon,

      Richard’s work inspired me to write as well. He’s truly a good soul. Please to write. The people on this planet need good writers. Don’t worry if it’s basic at first. Time and practice can improve that. It can make the difference as to whether or not someone can weather the storms that come their way, even if it’s just one line or two in the book or article that the person relates to. The author may never know. But that kind of knowing is unnecessary.

      Compassion is what it’s all about. Those who are still killing others haven’t learned that yet. They don’t know yet that when they kill the others, they kill the beauty in their souls. As the old song says, “Gonna lay down my burdens down by the riverside and study war no more.”

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