Self Mastery

Repressed Anger

At an event last year and I was walking to evening class. I passed Sam and asked him how he was doing. He said he was really angry. I asked him what happened. Sam explained what caused his anger.

“It was at the heart opening meditation earlier in the day. We were all sitting down and you asked us to focus our attention in our heart. But where you had us sitting was on concrete, and it was very uncomfortable so I couldn’t focus. I thought of laying down but people were around and there wasn’t room. So I stayed sitting up. It was really uncomfortable. You set us up for failing.” (He was really blaming me now.)”  

Sam continued and I could tell he was still angry at me. “I thought of moving to where there was more space and I “lay down and be comfortable, but I figured it would be over soon. But it kept going and I couldn’t get comfortable. I could tell other people around me were having really beautiful experiences, and I was missing out because you didn’t prepare us properly. You didn’t give us good instruction to start.” It had been about 6 hours since that meditation and Sam was still angry.

I figured it took some gumption for Sam to tell me this. It’s an uncomfortable thing to say to someone. I thanked him for the feedback, and acknowledged that he was correct. I hadn’t given specific set up instructions about how long the meditation would be, or what might be good to do to get comfortable, etc. I could do better, and I will.

Falsely Justifying Anger

I then asked him if the amount of anger he felt was in a proper proportion to being uncomfortable earlier in the day. Sam had to admit, that no. The amount of anger he felt surprised him, and he was surprised that he was still feeling it this many hours later.

I proposed to him that maybe the anger wasn’t just about the meditation or missing out on the heart opening experience others had. Maybe there was more to it. I asked him to consider that perhaps the anger was from some other source. This seemed to confuse Sam, but with some coaxing he agreed to consider it.

By the end of class that evening I checked in with Sam. He said that during the meditation at class he could step back from the story, and step back from the emotion of anger in his body. He was consciously observing both. From that perspective of consciousness he perceived his anger as separate from the explanation for the anger. The anger was an emotion by itself. The justification about the discomfort with sitting was something his mind connected to it. It was like the mind needed a justification as to the cause. The mind wasn’t comfortable with the anger to be there for no reason, so the mind gave the justification.  From Sam’s conscious perspective he could see them as separate.

Repressed Memory of Anger

With the rationalization for the anger removed, Sam was ready to go deeper and discover the real source of his anger. In the process the next day, Sam recalled a memory of when he was 9 years old. He had gone to the hospital to have surgery. His mom, dad, and doctors told him he would go to sleep and when he woke up everything would be fine. There wouldn’t be any pain.  He trusted them.

When Sam awoke from the surgery he  was in excruciating pain. He felt hurt, angry, and betrayed. His mom, dad, and doctors had lied to him. They had tricked him. As he remembered that day he could still feel the anger from 30 years before. It was as if the 9 year old boy was still alive inside him, still in the hospital, still in pain, and still angry at everyone. The memory, with all the emotion, and the physical pain was still there in Sam’s unconscious, and the experience was still going on in his mind, and emotions. Sam was just not aware of all this latent emotion stored with this memory until now.

Sam could consciously identify the emotion, the event, the beliefs, and the memory as the source of his emotions his relationship to it changed. Instead of being in the perspective of the hurt 9 year old he could step into a conscious perspective of what was going on in his mind and make changes to it. It was as if Sam walked into a room in his mind and his 9 year old self was there and needed comfort. Conscious present time Sam was now the adult guiding his 9 year old self through his feelings of anger, betrayal, and pain.

Sam, from a consciousness perspective could change the memory by using breathwork to release his emotions. He could have empathy for his 9 year old self. He could let go of the anger and forgive his parents and doctors. He could see they gave him the best guidance they could. They didn’t know the complications or extra challenges that would occur in the surgery. As a 9 year old in that much pain he couldn’t process the the changes from what he was told. As a 39 year old man he could.

After Sam effectively released the emotions from this long held repressed event he began to completely rethink the meditation the day before. It was the little bit of pain in his body that was a trigger for remembering the big pain at 9 years old. The pain and anger from his 9 year old self came out during the meditation, and he didn’t know where it was from. The mind made the excuse that it was from the uncomfortable flow. Sam could now see that this justification for his emotion was false.

Repressed Anger Creates a Pattern

Sam then started to have a series of flashbacks to other times he was angry. He could see his mind rationalized and blamed other people each time. Yet each time his anger was in much greater proportion than the event called for. He had been repeating a cycle of expressing repressed anger, and blaming other people for the anger he was carrying around in his body.

Sam’s source of anger and pain was essentially a repressed memory filled with emotion. That memory, pain, and anger, was still alive and being played in his unconscious mind. Since it was painful, the mind’s tendency is to push it down out of our conscious awareness and focus on other things so we feel better. The problem is that the emotional energy still wants to flow out and becomes directed at others who didn’t really cause it.

Where do your emotions come from?  How angry do you get, and is the source of that anger really what your mind says it is from?  Repressed emotions can be stored in the body for decades. The mind is looking around for something to blame them on. When it finds an excuse, it pounces.  In a way it is trying to release those pent up emotions such as anger from the body and be free of them. However, when you rationalize and believe the new cause, you don’t solve the actual source. You have vented off the pressure of that anger only temporarily. The unconscious is still playing the memory of past events and feeling the hurt, and generating more anger. Each false belief about the cause distracts you from finding the real source.

The long term solution to repressed anger requires identifying and changing the false beliefs formed during past events. This might mean identifying the repressed memory, but could just mean identifying the emotions and beliefs.  You have to move your perspective out of the mind of the past self still living in that moment, and dissolve the beliefs. To do this you have to bring into your conscious awareness to emotions, beliefs, and memories that were pushed into your unconscious mind.

There are some beliefs in Sam’s unconscious memory. The first is that his identity is still in the mindset of the 9 year old in pain. He is still being hurt, and other people are lying to him. Add to that a fear of being hurt again, fear of betrayal, and not trusting anyone that loves him.  Emotions are tied to those beliefs and affect his perception of people and life.

Why We Repress Anger and Other Memories

We often avoid the look inward because we are afraid of the emotions we will experience. We might not be aware of this and so instead rationalize our fear of looking inward as a fear of finding some dark unworthy secret about ourselves. The truth is we are afraid of the pain buried in the repressed memory store in the body. We were afraid of that painful memory the same as a child was once afraid of that pain.

It is understandable that a child would look away. They didn’t have an effective way to process those emotions of pain and anger at the time and so stuffed them into their unconscious. Then they put a denial system over them so they would forget.  Our fear of looking inward was made in those early years because we didn’t have skills to effectively process strong emotions. When you develop those skills, through such practices as the Releasing Emotions or Recapitulation, you also learn that it is safe to look inward towards your emotions and beliefs. It is safe because you have the skills to navigate, the thoughts, beliefs and let go of the pain and anger repressed inside. You will learn those skills through practicing the exercises in the Self Mastery Course and Releasing Emotions.


This article is by Gary van Warmerdam
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You can Love and Accept Yourself Without First Being Perfect

Hello Gary,

I’m David from Texas. I have gone through both the Basic and Phase II Self Mastery Courses.  I was amazed and impressed with your understanding and insight to how miserable a person can be when your thoughts are weighing you down in darkness, and how hard it is to express to yourself or to others.  The only way you could have that kind of insight is, if you had been through it yourself.

I am a Vietnam veteran who did not like life so much after I returned from war.  I honestly believe that I had PTSD and was afraid to admit it. My thoughts were running away from me on autopilot, for so many years, that it became “normal” to think negatively. I always felt like I was never enough.  Through all of these thoughts I continued life as if it was normal to feel jealous, to be afraid, to feel sad, to believe that no one loved me. There were times when I wanted to die from a car accident or an illness (beyond my control), so I wouldn’t have to think about killing myself.  Life had become such a challenge to me. I had tried everything to make myself numb to life but nothing seemed to help.

I always thought of myself as being smart enough to figure this mess out on my own but just couldn’t.  I have a MBA degree in business, I ran my own company, have a wife and two grown kids and am now semi-retired.   Life really sucked for me and I never admitted to myself or anyone else, that I just couldn’t change it on my own…….so, I was just waiting around, to someday die of old age.

Your Self Mastery Course gave me a chance to try something different where other things just didn’t work for me.  You gave me an answer that I was looking for that I had never considered. I had no idea that because of all the beliefs that I had created in my head, those beliefs were the source of all my misery.  I finally made sense to me that I was the one, or my characters were the ones, that created all of those thoughts that I reacted to so emotionally. I finally had an answer. I wasn’t crazy.

Once I discovered the problem, then you gave me the tools to work on the solution.

Gary, you have probably been told this before, but you literally saved my life.  My life is so different now than it was several years ago. The transition happened to me while I was busy doing the lessons, drills in your series, that I didn’t realize the changes that were happening to me.  Sometimes I have to try to remember just how miserable I was, because of the difference I have experienced.

Also, your lesson on perfection in the Phase II series was an eye opener for me because that was one of my basic problems. I was always looking for perfection.  I thought you had to be perfect in order for anyone to love you. I now realize that perfection is just a concept and doesn’t exist. Nor do I have to strive for a concept of something that is not attainable.  There is a lot of history that comes from those thoughts of perfection and I would be glad to share it with you someday but suffice it to say, you opened my eyes and more importantly, my mind. I finally had a reason for my misery, and a pathway out.

Again Gary,  thank you for your insight, thank you for your courage to put something like this out there for someone like me to listen to, that changed my life.  I do not believe things happen by accident and I believe that God put me in your path so I could find pathway to happiness.

I am not naive enough to think that this is the end of my journey.  Life happens every day and as long as we have thoughts, there will always be an opportunity to choose happiness over misery.  I realize the happiness happens every day and it is my responsibility to choose happiness. I look forward to every day, living in the present moment.

With great respect, appreciation and gratitude,

David from Texas.

The Inner Critic Can Be Tamed

It would be nice if the Inner Critic, what I call the Judge, would go away in a one step process. That rarely happens. There have been a couple people that might have done it. Eckhart Tolle, or Byron Katie, maybe, but I don’t know their personal process in detail to say. They may have still had extra cleanup work on their mind to do once their big shift happened. For the rest of us normal humans that want our Judge to calm down, or even become completely reformed, there is work that can get it done.

What I have learned through my own process, and guiding others, is two important things. One, is that it can be done. You can tame your Inner Critic so that it is a kind ally instead of a punishing bully. The second thing is that the change is most effectively done in steps and accomplished through practice.

The first step to changing the Internal Dialog of the Judge, or any of the negative chatter, is to move your point of view to a neutral Observer Perspective. You do this by noticing things and observing things as a practice. This might not seem like much of a change, but it allows for other kinds of progress, like doubt or skepticism to work effectively. You might also call this perspective a state of consciousness or awareness. It requires that you be able to watch thoughts in the mind without much, or any reactionary thoughts that would add layers.

Once you make this shift in point of view three other things can happen. Your emotions decrease. You are able to become skeptical of thoughts from the Judge in an effective manner. Third, you recover personal power from those thoughts and underlying beliefs you have been unconscious of seeing.

The reason changing your point of view is so critical is that the analytical thinking of the mind doesn’t change beliefs. Also, the analytical thinking is infected with the ego’s perspective of the Judge, the Victim, and other voices, in your head. You will see this happening when you have a negative opinion about what the Judge says. It might be a thought like, “I’m over reacting, I wish I didn’t beat myself up, I’m such a loser for thinking this way, I’ll get it right next time, I need to be more perfect.” These types of thoughts are from the Judge as well. It is in way complaining about itself, and is effectively reinforcing itself as doing your thinking for you at the same time. All these thoughts, and others, are different ways that our ego mind reacts to a judgmental thought. This is clouding things up instead of making them clearer and quieter.

The mind is distorting things through stories, opinions, exaggerations, and distractions like this. It is not able to clean itself up any more than a toddler left out in the yard will clean itself up. Left out in the yard it will likely just get more dirt on itself. You need to bring in a clear consciousness of the Observer to oversee the cleanup. In order to have that clear consciousness of the Observer you have to develop it. This means being in a state of mind where you don’t add more thoughts, even analytical ones, or good intentions, to what the Inner Judge says. If you can’t be in this neutral state, you are still in various aspects of the ego based belief system.

The key is to develop Awareness so that you do not identify with the parts of the mind thinking and generating emotions. In the beginning this will be for short intervals measured in minutes, and then can grow as you practice and develop more skills. It is not so much that you are trying to be smarter and analyze your thinking, but rather to wake up from your thinking.

When you watch a movie, it can be emotional, but that doesn’t mean that the movie is real. It just means that you are identifying with the characters in the story of the movie. In a good movie you feel the emotions of the characters on the screen because your mind is identifying with them. If you don’t, you will think of it as a bad movie and change the channel.

The same happens when you identify with the characters speaking in your head. If you identify with them, then you are in their movie, and you are feeling their emotions. Everything they say will “seem real” because we assume that “feeling the emotions” means it “Is real.” It isn’t. Feeling emotions just means it’s a perspective inducing movie, opinion, or belief, and you identify with a character in there.

This is not to say that emotions can’t be authentic. They can be. But emotions from the thoughts you think and conversations and images in your own head are not the same.

If you can step outside the identity of the characters of voices in your head and watch it will begin to look very different. It will be like watching a movie that you are not invested it. Or like a dream that you are lucid in. You will know it is a dream and that it is not real.

This allows you to go to the next steps which is to lessen the emotions, be more skeptical, and recover personal power. Different exercises in the Self Mastery Course focus on different aspects of this belief changing process. The Gratitude exercise in session 1 is to re-program your mind. However, it also helps you change your emotions and point of view. It also induces you to the experience of how powerful a story is to change your emotions, and that you can have power over what you feel. Session 2 on Recovering Personal Power is about skepticism from an observer perspective about certain thoughts. Session 3 on the Attention is bringing awareness specifically to your point of view. Session 5 is all about changing point of view so that you can become an effective observer and then apply better skepticism.

Each exercise of the Self Mastery Course will help you strengthen these different skills so you can step by step change each story in your mind. Over time those steps will add up and you will discover that you changed the story of your life towards greater happiness.

The Inner Critic Is Not Truthful

The Inner Critic, or Judge as I call him (or her) often lies. It may get some facts right, and be accurate sometimes, but if  you look closely you will see that it often lies. These lies can be brutal to our emotional state and self worth. It can incapacitate us emotionally and paralyze our state of mind into victim-hood.  It  will want you to focus on the parts it says that are true so we don’t notice the lies, and damage it does.  Here is a video that breaks down some of the Belief Systems of the Judge that are false.


One of the keys to dismantling the Inner Critic is to become skeptical of it. This is helped by finding small ways to doubt it’s story and judgments. Over time, with repetition, you can take your personal power out of the long held beliefs of the Judge. The better you master skepticism of that voice the faster your emotions will change. To do this another key element is to separate your perspective from the voice in your head. The Self Mastery Course has multiple exercises that combine so that you can live free of this mental tyrant.

Consciousness VS. The Ego

Are you Intelligent or Stupid? Are you a Success or a Failure?

It kind of depends on the moment of what you did that day. A runner will say, “You are only as good as your last race.” That means that if you won then you are a winner. If you lost, then you are a loser. A financial trader will say, “You are only as good as your last trade.” It means if you made money you are a success. If you lost money then you are a failure. In that realm of opinion subject to what the mind labels you will never feel comfort with yourself that you can rest and accept yourself the way you are.

It is in these small internal dialog of thoughts that labels become opinions, and become subtle self rejections and criticism.

Much of our time, energy, and efforts in this world seems to be directed at driving towards the positive labels of “intelligent”, “winner”, and “success”. We are also running away from the negative labels “stupid”, “loser”, and “failure”. It’s not just the labels that push us. It is also the emotional feelings we have when we are labeled with one or the other.

The game of labels and opinions is set up by the ego. It is designed to keep us trapped in a system of labels and cycles of emotions. You can’t enjoy being a winner or a success, because you need to train for the next race and worry about your next trade. What you did this morning or yesterday no longer counts. You have to work to keep that label today and tomorrow, and the day after. Always running to avoid the labels with the bad feelings can leave you exhausted.

At first glance it looks like the way to win the “game” of life (be a “success”) is to get and keep as many good labels and avoid the bad label outcomes. Upon closer inspection you will notice this path of winning, success, and being smart doesn’t result in deep happiness or fulfillment.

That is because you are trying to win the game of labels. It’s a game that from a 10,000 foot point of view looks like a fenced in trap. You are on a field and you can pursue all the good labels on the field. Of course you are being competing with everyone else on the same field and being compared for the same labels. You have to chase the same label again tomorrow, and prepare for the next project, and worry about your next trade, raise, bonus, project, or career change.

That comparison comes from outside, and from your own Internal Critic I call the Judge character in your head. It doesn’t rest and doesn’t want you to rest from the game. When you move out, towards a Consciousness Observer you see that the Inner Critic is just part of the mind. It is playing a game on you.

What you don’t easily notice, because your attention is occupied with chasing the next label, is that the field is fenced in. It doesn’t allow you any other options for defining your self. You are either a winner, or loser, success or failure.

The game of Labels is played by the Ego. If it can keep you in the game, striving for success, money wins, and being smart, you never stop long enough to feel fulfilled, satisfied, pleased, accepting of the moment, or grateful in your life. In the game of the Ego on that fenced in field in your mind you will never be happy and fulfilled. In that duality of lables there is no real self acceptance.There is only temporary “self acceptance -IF….”

If you win the game of labels and become the winner or success for a bit you are still trapped in that fenced in field. In the next moment the game will start over trying to win’s your minds approval of yourself. The result is that you lose the game of consciousness.

In the game of consciousness one of the goals is to escape the game of ego, including it’s subset game of labels and opinions about yourself.

The ego is working to control your attention. If it can get you to chase the label of success, winner, and smart, etc. It has you occupied. It feeds you a morsel of good emotions and you feel superior. Then the ego mind starts the game again with the next race, trade, project, or job. This is the human in the matrix, the exercise wheel of the habitrail, the daily grind, the rat race or whatever else you want to call it.

There is no lasting peace, happiness, or fulfillment in the Ego’s game. The only way to win is not to play in the back and forth opinions and labels the mind has for you.

The ego mind will say that what is on the field about success and failure is all there is. For the ego this is true because it has never left the field. The ego mind has no awareness of consciousness or anything outside its game. It somewhat like a kid who grew up in a small town, was an athletic success, and did well in school, but never left their home town.

The mind knows nothing of anything outside itself. The ego mind is limited to the realm of language, words, and labels. It can’t understand consciousness anymore than it can grasp empty space.

Consciousness exists but does so silently. Consciousness exists, but not as anything tangible to touch and so can’t be labeled. You won’t find it with your mind because it can’t be labeled.

If you do move into an awareness of yourself as consciousness, you are engaging life without the criticism and judgments of labels. As consciousness you can transcend the emotional suffering cycles that comes with this game of the ego.

What is Consciousness and How Do you get there?

That’s somewhat like asking what is Love?  You don’t know what love is by reading, or filling your head with ideas and concepts.  That is the mind’s version, or the ego’s version of love. You know what love is because you experience it. After time and effort, and practice, you can invoke that feeling of love at will. You become a master of Love.

Consciousness can be explained, but can’t be understood or experienced through explanation. You have to develop control over your attention, and sense of self in a different way. You learn to extract your identity from the labels of “winner, loser, success, failure, and others” to know what you are separate from your mind.

The Self Mastery Course is a path of steps to take you on that journey. In the process of that journey you will release the false beliefs, negative thoughts, and emotions from your past, and leave the game of labels and opinions behind.

The Self Mastery Course: Practical Tools for Getting Rid of the Emotional Drama in Your Life
  • Stop Emotional Reactions
  • Change Core Beliefs
  • Quiet the Criticizing Voice in Your Head
  • Develop Communication and Respect in Your Relationships
  • Create Love and Happiness in Your Life
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