In this hard-hitting true-life story, Hong shows her client how it is his anger causing
his health problems and his choice to let it go.
READER WARNING: swear words
A 35 year-old businessman, James, suddenly developed high pitched tinnitus. The noise was so loud that it drove him insane. He lived in anger and rage for over two years. “All I want to do is to kill someone”, he wrote on his medical symptom sheet. He went to many doctors including ear specialists, acupuncturists, cranial therapists and kinesiologists for the previous two years without any positive result. The last doctor he saw told him that he had to live with this condition for the rest of his life and that he could prescribe anti-depression drugs for him to cope with the symptoms. He was very frustrated when I saw him.
I observed James. He presented an image of a powerful, successful man in his own right, but he looked a bit rough around the edges. He had a stubborn, determined look in his eyes. However, his eyes were very red and inflamed due to his hot temper and inner tension. He did look like a pressure cooker ready to blow up.
I started the conversation, “James, what did you experience the day or the week before you developed this tinnitus?”
“Nothing!!” he immediately shouted, “I just woke up with it one morning.”
I smiled and said calmly, “Tell me about this day of nothing in detail. I want to know every nothing that happened to you the day or the week before you developed this ringing, especially the nothing that made you so angry.”
“How do you know I was angry?”
“You looked angry when you said, ‘Nothing’. This so-called nothing looked like a very bad memory.”
“I don’t want to talk about it! I don’t want to go there. Do you mind? Just leave me alone.” His face turned very red and his whole body tensed up causing veins popping up all over his neck and arms.
“What if talking about it is the only way to cure this tinnitus? If you are prepared to put up with this horrible loud ringing in your ears for the rest of your life, then don’t talk about it.”
“You had better be right”, he challenged me.
“There is not once that I am wrong in reading people’s emotion”, I responded with confidence and authority. (Having conducted 32,000 face-to-face consultations by then, I knew a thing or two about human emotions.)
James looked to me for assurance. I looked him in the eyes with love and kindness. Our eyes locked, and I passed a deep sense of assurance to him through my being. He started to open up, “I had a physical fight with my brother. He stole my girlfriend. It was a pretty rough fight. I thought I was going to kill him.” He looked very angry and started to form his hands into fists while he retrieved his painful memory.
“Oh, why didn’t you? Killing him is going to make you happy and you can live with your girlfriend happily ever after. What a brilliant idea.”
He got annoyed with my sarcasm. “A man does stupid things when he is angry, but fancy stealing your brother’s fiancée. That is a sin!!!” He was almost screaming.
“I don’t think people can be stolen in that way, James. Maybe it is more like your fiancée realised that she loved him more than she loved you.”
“Yeah, you can put it that way. She was with me for four fucking years and she saw my brother once when he came back to visit from the army. Two months later, she told me she was in love with him. Fucking insane bitch!” He now demonstrated great anger and rage.
“You could not swallow your pride. Your pride is more important to you than your love for your brother.” I looked him in the eyes.
“So be it”, he said coldly.
“Do you love your brother?” I asked softly.
“I used to… we used to be great mates who did everything together, but now, not any more.” He now looked very sad. His chest caved in, his head hung down, and he looked devastated.
“How can love be ‘used to and not any more’? Love is the only truth of life for humans. Real love never fails, never dies, never turns into anything else because it is the absolute. When a human being truly loves another, this love will always be there. It cannot be broken no matter what happens in life…” I said these words with total conviction, with every fibre of my being.
I had tears in my eyes. James was touched by my intense emotion. He stared at me for a couple of seconds, then his tough, tense face started to soften. A loving embrace shone from his eyes like a torch light beaming out of a dark hole.
I saw a divine opportunity to take James into his heart now. “James, let me ask you. If you are at the war front, with your brother, will you risk your life to save him from a coming bullet? Give me the first thought that comes into your mind.”
He did not see this question coming, but he responded immediately, “Yeah. I guess I would.”
“So you are prepared to die to save your brother’s life and yet you want to kill him because your girlfriend falls in love with him, as if it is his fault to be loved by someone, as if he deliberately did something to make you suffer?”, I confronted him.
“Whatever you say. He is still an asshole. I won’t ever forgive him.”
In hell and drinking poison
“Not forgiving him is exactly the same as throwing yourself in hell and drinking poison for the rest of your life. When you forgive someone, you free yourself from hell. Whether you forgive your brother or not does not matter to him. He is out there living a great life. However, it does matter to you. If you don’t let go of this anger, this resentment, this rage, it will take over your life, and give you a life of ultimate misery. Is that what you want?
“Your tinnitus is just the beginning, the first warning. Your tinnitus is the result of the damage your anger and inner rage did to your nervous system. Nothing and no-one can cure you except yourself.” My tone of voice was very strong.
“Can this bloody ringing get worse?” He is now very concerned.
“Of course. It can get much worse. The longer you hang on to your anger, the worse it will get.”
“Bloody hell! You had better do something to get rid of it.” He is now anxious.
“No, James, you had better do something to get rid of it. It is your ears that are ringing, not mine. You are the one who is suffering, not me.” I deliberately sounded heartless and cold.
“I can’t imagine how I can let it go. This anger sticks to me like shit to a blanket.”
“Allow me to correct you here, James. The anger does not stick to you; it is you who is hanging on to the anger.
“Do you need to imagine having a shit in order to have one? You don’t, do you? When you are full of shit, you just go and get rid of it. You know how uncomfortable it is to be constipated.
“Letting go of your anger is just as essential as getting rid of your shit, having a purge, a clean out. It is a matter of decision, a matter of necessity in order to live in good health and peace. It is you yourself who makes it so difficult; it is your own imagination that makes it hard. You are the one who is hanging on to the shit and now you are blaming the shit for sticking to you. You need to wake up, James, stop blaming, and start taking responsibility.”
“I don’t know…. I am still very angry.”
“Sure, I appreciate your feeling. Did you feel fantastic when you said, ‘I am still angry’?”
“Of course not! Why would you ask such a stupid question? How would I feel fantastic when I am angry?”
A tiger ready to tear him apart
“So here is the choice, James. Do you want to be a person who feels good or do you want to be a person who feels bad for the rest of your life?”
“What do you think, Hong, are you kidding me? Who wants to feel fucking bad?”, he shouted at me.
I immediately shouted back, “How can you expect to feel fucking good when you choose to hang on to your sufferings that make you feel so fucking bad? How is it possible for you to be happy at all when you are not prepared to make the choice to be happy?
“On one hand, you don’t want to feel bad; on the other hand, you make choices that make you feel so bad. What are you trying to achieve here? Sounds like you are a master of contradiction. What do you really want, James? Make up your bloody mind. Don’t waste your intelligence and don’t waste my time. I have better things to do than playing games with your mind…”. I must have looked like a tiger ready to tear him apart.
“All right, all right, all right… You don’t have to shout. Jesus, I surrender, I surrender. You seem to know what you are talking about. It makes bloody sense anyway. I will do whatever you say. Forgive, let go….whatever the fuck you want me to do. Just teach me how… I will do whatever you say.” He surrendered to the power of my tough love.
I prescribed a Chinese herbal compound to James to modulate the stress hormone and detox his liver, balance his mood and reduce systemic inflammation. I worked with James for two months on letting go of unwanted emotions and creating the future he wanted.
A few weeks after I saw him, his brother’s wife Jade (James’ ex fiancée) gave birth to a baby boy, Flynn. I encouraged James to go to Flynn’s christening ceremony. He was reluctant to go, but after I told him that this would be a shortcut to making peace with his past and starting a new life, he agreed to go. He saw his brother and his ex-fiancée, now his sister-in-law, for the first time in two years. Everyone was nervous about his being there. He did not stay for long; just a few minutes. He did not say much – just gave them his blessings and left quietly.
That night, he got a call from his father who said to him, “I am so proud of you my son. I wish I had the guts to do what you did. Now I can live in peace. Thank you.”
A couple of days later, he got a card from his brother saying, ‘My dear brother, you have made my day, my year, my life. Thank you. We love you and we want you to be the godfather of our son.”
James’ tinnitus left him from the moment he let out a big cry, a big let-go, a big welcoming of a new insight, a big welcoming of a new empowering life…
Hong is a Chinese medical doctor who specialised in psychological healing before she retired. She is author of Freedom to Love, from which this above story has been extracted, with permission.
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