Living Your Most Passionate Life

Kathy Ryndak, Gord RiddellIncreasing societal conflict and violence, from our streets to the planet at large, can lead us to question what we might learn from it. Perhaps the first thing we need to learn is that the world is a macrocosm of our own microcosm. In other words, the outside world reflects what is going on inside of our selves.

Conflict has become a way of life for many people. We have air rage, road rage, relationship and work conflicts. Some people spend a great deal of time fighting with other people in their heads, trapping that energy inside their bodies. Given the opportunity, we do not hesitate to express our displeasure directly. Anger has become a way of life. The more stressors we have in our lives, and there are many, the more likely we are to become volatile.

Control Issues

The largest majority of our conflicts derive directly from our need to control. Yes, we all have control issues and they account for about 90% of our anger! When people do not do as we expect, anticipate, or do it the way we would have, and we have an emotional reaction to it, then we have control issues. When someone driving in front of us cuts us off we can fly into a rage; if our flight is delayed or the subway is behind schedule we again fly into a rage.

We personalize these experiences as if they were happening intentionally, just to us. Requests we may make for assistance, such as helping with the dishes, only to discover the other person does not do dishes the way we do, again triggers our anger.

Having control issues per se is not the problem. Control helps us feel safe in our environment, it can help us to do a good job in whatever our endeavour, and it reinforces our sense of personal values. The problem occurs when we project these things onto other people and expect them to behave exactly the way we want or need them to.

Even when people do not know what our requirements are, we can be moved to anger very quickly because they “should” have known.

If we do not express our discontent outwardly, we are still in conflict on the inside, allowing that anger energy to fester.

Things You Can Do

1) Determine how important it is that the dishes were not done your way. At least they are done!
2) Learn to breathe, meditate and experience for yourself what an inner peacefulness is like. Strive to stay peaceful.
3) Learn that you do not have all the answers, or know all the rules. There are none.
4) Learn to let go. This does not mean giving up your personal values. It is part of learning to realize most of what is a big deal today will probably not even be remembered in the future.
5) Learn to lighten up and laugh a lot more than you may be doing now.
6) Celebrate the differences of each individual in your life and see them for who they really are. It is all the individuals in our life, in so many different roles, who are our teachers.
7) Pick your fights wisely. Is this really worth destroying a relationship or job over?
8) Is your anger proportional to the event? If you are raging about the way the dishes were done, it is clearly not about the dishes. Dig deeper to find out what is really going on inside of you. We often express anger at what is safest, thereby avoiding the real problem.
9) If you do flare up at someone, be the first to apologize.
10) Recognize that the only person you can change is yourself.
11) Practice acceptance of yourself and others.

For a deeper understanding of your anger, here are some things you might want to ask yourself.
1) Why is your way the only right way to do something?
2) Is there a place here for you to learn something different?
3) What is your pay-off for keeping yourself in conflict? In other words, what do you get from it personally?
4) If you did not feel internal conflict most of the time, what would you feel?
5) What other ways can you find to feel safe and secure in your environment without needing to control everything and everyone in it?
6) What is your biggest fear about letting go of your control?
7) Could you live with your feared worst-case scenario?

Conflicts do happen. We are only human after all, but we do not need to live in a state of perpetual conflict and anger. Before you get yourself worked up, ask what this feeling of anger is really all about. The more aware you are of your feeling states, the easier it will be to shift unwanted reactions away. Responding to a situation is much more empowering than knee-jerk reactions.

It is so vitally important for us to recognize the correlation between our own internal emotional states and those of the outside world. If we really believe that a peaceful planet is attainable, then we have to start with our self and find ways to allow peace within our self, our relationships, families, and communities. Peace is not something that is decreed or comes from the signing of agreements or treaties; it is a state of being. Peace is not a feeling or an intermittent behaviour; it is something we strive to ultimately become. And it will only come from the inside out.

Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak are co-founders of the Transformational Arts College of Spiritual and Holistic Training. The College offers professional training programs in Spiritual Psychotherapy, Spiritual Director, Holistic Health, and Coaching. For more information or for a course calendar, call 416-484-0454 or 1-800-TAC-SELF, or visit To receive their monthly e-newsletter, email

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