I have always had to go deeply into my own rage in order to bring it into the light to heal. If I don't allow myself to feel the rage, I cannot heal either myself or others. Not allowing myself to feel it is like clamping a lid on a boiling pot of water. Eventually, it boils over in uncontrolled ways.

Feeling the rage does not mean acting it out against others. But what then do we do with this powerful emotion?

When my husband refused to leave his mistress for the sake of our children and the woman who lovingly bore his seed, at first I felt shock, disbelief, and deep numbing pain. I sobbed at night for hours. Then suddenly the pain transformed into rage. I felt disrespected and betrayed, not only by the man I had married and trusted, but also by the woman I had once believed was my best friend. I deserved so much better, as did our children. Together, my husband and his mistress had relegated me to nothing more than a convenient maid, cook and babysitter. I felt used without my consent so that they could go off and play.

I felt like going out, buying a gun, and killing them both, but I didn't want to spend the rest of my life in jail nor did I want to leave my children orphans. What was I to do with this boiling rage which had suddenly appeared in my life? I had tough moral choices to make.

Rage serves valuable spiritual purposes.

One, for me, was the release of self-righteousness. I knew from personal experience how it felt to want to murder. If I were capable of murder, how could I ever judge another going through this traumatic inner struggle?

A second was the realization that rage was a messenger. It was telling me I needed to grow and change. But how?

Change does not mean getting rid of rage. Change means transforming rage into constructive action that supports values of fairness, safety, justice, mutual respect, and courage.

The children and I had needed my husband's financial and emotional support and protection while the children were growing up. He had abandoned us all. I had no choice but to learn how to protect both myself and our children as well as I could.

I divorced my husband, dropped his surname, went back into the job market, fought for half of our assets in court, took care of our children as well as I could, applied to law school, graduated cum laude, and was offered a position as an associate attorney with a large Atlantic City law firm. Later, I opened my own law practice.

Ultimately, my rage transformed into a deeper understanding of what the Buddhist Eightfold Path calls "right action." There is conduct that supports human cooperation, respect, love, justice, harmony, abundance, and peace, as well as conduct that disrupts them. "Right action" supports the values we all cherish. Everybody wins. This is the arena of morals, ethics, and the Christian Ten Commandments. Committing adultery destroys marriages and families.

This is not a path I desired. Rather, it seems to have chosen me, and yes, it has been challenging and a constant overcoming.

I have had to learn to stop enabling injustice without myself being unjust, stop enabling disrespect without being disrespectful, stop enabling abuse, control, and manipulation without myself becoming abusive, controlling, and manipulative. I have had to learn to be very transparent in expressing my needs and offering support to others.

I have also had to learn to be just, respectful, loving, forgiving, and grateful toward myself so that I know how to be just, respectful, loving, forgiving, and grateful toward others. I have had to walk out of many unjust, disrespectful, and abusive relationships to protect my own soul and sanity. Only then have I been able to re-engage these same people from a more expanded, deeper, and transformed awareness.

Under no circumstances do I believe others are evil. Their intentions, in ignorance and lack of awareness, are simply directed toward goals that serve only themselves at the expense of others. They have their own spiritual lessons to learn, their own karma to live.

Is this the path of the spiritual warrior? Are we all spiritual warriors, grappling with the rage within so that we can transform it into passionate purpose?

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Janet Smith Warfield
Ordinary words, extraordinary insights

• Retired attorney, mystic, and bodhisattva
• Author of "Shift: Change Your Words, Change Your World"
o Amazon Best Seller
o 2008 Indie Next Generation Book Award - Best New Age Non-Fiction
• Included in:
o Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law
Best Seller published by The American Bar Association, April 2010
o 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading
Available at www.TheAuthorsShow.com
• Winner - 2008 Coalition of Visionary Resources Best Website Award, www.wordsculptures.com
• Barbara Marx Hubbard Agents of Conscious Evolution Mentor
• Vistar Circle facilitator. See www.vistarfoundation.org.
• Conscious Evolution Coaching Circle Leader. See http://bit.ly/17ZEbnQ
• Doctoral candidate in Wisdom Studies at Wisdom University. See www.wisdonuniversity.org

Dr. Janet Smith Warfield serves wisdom-seekers who want understanding and clarity so they can live peaceful, powerful, prosperous lives. Through her unique combination of holistic, creative, right-brain transformational experiences and 22 years of rigorous, left-brain law practice, she has learned how to sculpt words in atypical ways to shift her listeners into experiences beyond words, transforming turmoil into inner peace. To learn more, see www.janetsmithwarfield.com, www.wordsculptures.com and www.wordsculpturespublishing.com.