Picture someone you hate. Someone who’s hurt you, let you down, stabbed you in the back and/or double-crossed you. The person who gives you goosebumps when you hear their name and invades your dreams at night, like an uninvited and empty-handed party guest.
If you’re a peaceful soul, operating on a higher plane to the rest of mankind – the Dalia Lama perhaps – no doubt, there are no bogeymen in your life. You love everyone and find salvation and light in the darkest of souls.
However, if you’re an everyday Joe, your ‘people I’d most like to shout at/hit/kill’ list, is probably a long one. A list, whose members can go up or down, depending on your mood. And if you’re a hostage to your monthly cycle, you can love someone one minute and want to bury them under the wendy house, the next.
Still picturing your bad person? Now, write a letter to him/her and say everything you’ve always wanted to. You have total freedom to express your true feelings. Get it all out. You’ll feel better afterwards. You can even post it.
Does this sound a bit too self-help-y to you? A bit, soft? A bit too fluffy? Well, last year, I felt the same. I loathed anything remotely connected to self-help. Actually, I still find the words a bit irritating. But, lately, I am finding myself totally convinced that this self-development business, is truly transformational.
My book shelves are now buckling under the weight of Geoff Thompson (that’s 41 books!), Timothy Ferriss (huge encyclopaedic tomes), Eckhart Tolle, Snoopy, Viktor Frankl, Paulo Coelho and Calvin & Hobbes. All life-changing reads, especially Snoopy. He’s an exceptionally sapient beagle.
However, when I share my new discoveries and philosophies, my friends look so disappointed. I can now understand how my Christian friends must feel, when they tell me Jesus walked on water.
Looking inside ourselves and delving into every dark and murky corner, is as unpleasant as my husband’s toe-nail clippings. Unpleasant things are uncomfortable to look at, and being uncomfortable is often painful. That is why most of us lock away our bad experiences and painful memories, until the box unexpectedly bursts open one day and we find ourselves ready to lash out at someone. Excusable, if you’re being mugged; abhorrent if someone simply bumped into you in Asda.
I now understand that every instance of spontaneous anger, has a cause and it is not usually the thing that causes us to explode in the first place. It is buried and unresolved pain.
So, when I see someone acting like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, I try and understand why. I imagine he’s not angry because the floppy, soggy Big Mac on his tray is not the same stacked Big Mac in the picture; he’s just hurt that his mum probably never said: ‘I love you, son.’