The following is a reflection on the words of Pema Chodron with a small section from my upcoming book, When They Cheat: Recovering Your Power and Purpose in the Face of Loss and Uncertainty.

The peaceful photo heading up this blog post is a favorite place of mine that I return to often. It is Assisi, Italy and in the last year and a bit, I have spent about half my time there. This place held me whilst I sat with my anger upon discovering my spouse had cheated. Assisi was like a tender and loving mother to me, nursing my wounds and urging me to dive into my purpose courageously. I hope you, dear reader, have a place like Assisi.

Sitting with Anger

As we sit with anger there are probably some things we need to consider. Are we going to add to the aggression we might feel towards our cheating spouse? Are we going to attend to the anger in a way that it becomes larger and overwhelms us? And if this antagonism is the way of being that we choose, where is our healing going to actually begin? I will argue that healing will not begin until we shrug off this way of being. I don’t know about you, courageous reader, but for me, I find that when I fight with my resentment and anger in an attempt to overpower or destroy it, I find no clear space for healing. 

Pema Chodron speaks in a richly fluid way to the notion of sitting with anger. In her teachings she asks us to find the most tender and forgiving way of being toward ourselves in moments where anger rises up and threatens to strangle us. She suggests that instead of being harsh with ourselves after we realize that we are creating our own suffering during the chain reaction that leads us to a place of bitterness and pain, this moment is the time to find gentle and ardent compassion for ourselves rather than the harshness we are prone to bring.

If our awareness brings us the capacity to pause, instead of leap into self-shaming or being hypercritical, what might happen if we simply sit and feel the anger? What might happen when we allow the accompanying feelings like rage, pain, guilt, shame, all of it to simply be what they are and nothing more? What might become possible in this moment of sitting with anger where we do nothing, put aside our desire to figure it out and certainly not try to fix it? She asks of us to simply allow anger to be what it is without escalation or attempting the inverse of that by trying to suppress it. Quite simply, we are in this moment choosing courageously to simply be with the anger.

So, if you have had this experience in the past or are going through this right now, can you simply be with the anger you feel about the event we are observing here? Can you tap into your inherent courage and trust that allowing the anger to just be what it is, anger and nothing more, might lead you to a path of freedom?

No more questions for you today !

This article features an excerpt from When They Cheat: Recovering Your Power and Purpose in the Face of Loss and Uncertainty, Copyright © DW Long 2020, All Rights Reserved.


  • DW Long, LCSW

    Therapist | Human Performance Coach | Author | Joy Embracer

    Mindful Coaching Solutions

    DW's life purpose is to help others maximize their capacity for joy, abundance and embrace the beauty of their true nature. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, life coach and an avid podcaster, DW is the founder of Mindful Therapy Solutions and Mindful Coaching Solutions and is soon releasing a guidebook focused on recovering one's power and sense of purpose when facing loss and uncertainty as well as a children's book that teaches mindful breathing. Check out The Wanderer's Guide to Cosmic Fabulosity podcast.