Righteous indignation is typically a reactive emotion of anger over perceived mistreatment, insult, or malice. It is akin to what is called the sense of injustice. The funny thing about righteous indignation is that it seems very right and justified but is actually wrong.
For a very long time I have hid behind the guise of righteous indignation. It’s easier to cut someone off when you feel that you are RIGHT and they are WRONG and have done you wrong. I recently heard a prominent Rabbi leader say that there is truth in every point of view and where we fail is by not taking the time to find the truth in what others are saying to us. Not only that but we neglect the good people have done and focus solely on the bad.
We become so focused on how we have been wronged that we neglect to see the truth of the full situation. We neglect the full truth and this practice is rooted in our own ego, specifically the need to be right and the fear of pain. I know personally I have used righteous indignation as a tool to prevent further pain and hurt.
I have closed myself off from others when I feel I have been wronged out of fear that it will happen again. The problem is that its not what I should have done.
Moments of pain, and difficulty are moments we put up barriers and turn into ourselves. The harder the hurt the farther we go. We tighten, harden, and freeze, get dry, sour and afraid that it will happen again. This is really ego at work. The fear of feeling pain is rooted in the ego. Turns out that this is the moment where we can change that habit. Getting familiar and intimate with the barriers around our hearts and our being is key to breaking the cycle.
We tend to erect barriers to prevent us from feeling pain. These barriers will never lead to true happiness and freedom because they are rooted in selfishness and ego. Try sitting with pain without trying to fix it. Staying present with pain of betrayal, disapproval, failure and let it open you. It’s crazy how becoming familiar with these feelings you can get a better understanding of them and can recognize them when they arise. Through my meditation practice I have been working on increasing my familiarity with these difficult moments and feelings. Familiarity is an important step in understanding and mindfulness.
We all rip and run through life so fast that we miss so much. Rarely do we truly take a look at ourselves and how our actions impact others. At least that has been my experience for so long. I spent far too much time on the offensive and defensive with others. When was the last time you focused more on how what you did affected someone from their vantage point over your own?
Many times I closed myself off from others thinking I was right though the truth was that their intent was not to cause harm or hurt to me. Ask yourself if what they did to hurt you was done expressly to hurt you. Most times you will find that what was done was simply not particularly mindful and not malicious in intent. They were not intentionally trying to hurt you. They were just trying to be happy by avoiding pain. If they are trying to be happy then think about what you can do to help them become happy. Don’t get angry at them. The cure for righteous indignation is learning to be compassionate. It took me a long time to learn this but I know now.
The natural state of the mind is clear. Disturbing emotions are clouds.
The formula is first you, then us, then me.