I Get so Angry When I Have to Wear a Mask because of COVID-19!

Jul 6, 2020

QUESTION

Tashi Delek Robina,

First of all, thank you so much for your teachings this week. My partner and I love listening to your teachings on Zoom! We can’t wait to see you again at the center!
 
So, now to my question. I didn’t want to ask you my question in the class because I think that’s a very sensitive topic and I didn’t want to upset students.

My issue is that whenever it comes to COVID-19, I can feel anger arising in me because “I” don’t agree with all those restrictions, especially wearing a mask. Wearing a mask is the most terrifying thing for me. That causes my anger the most. We went to two shops where you had to wear a mask (and to use hand sanitizer – I hate these) and I could immediately see how my anger came up and it made me a snappy, not nice person. 

I have such a resentment to wear a mask. Even when my partner tries to explain to me to do it for others, I can’t agree with it because “I” don’t see a sense of wearing a mask. It’s not like I don’t do anything. I do at least the social distancing thing because of the others, not for me. I don’t know why I have this strong resistance in me to wearing a mask. It makes my partner angry that I’m not doing it just for others and it makes me angry to do it. 

First I thought this whole virus thing doesn’t really affect me, I mean I was really enjoying the shutdown and I am so fortunate to work from home. I didn’t miss anything at all. But since the economy started to re-open and you see people in the stores clean everything and wearing masks, that makes me angry. And I actually know I shouldn’t because I know most of the people have just fear. And that’s maybe my issue, I am afraid of getting infected by the fear that people have. I don’t want to live in fear. I’m trying now to avoid those things where you have to wear a mask or to use hand sanitizer but just to have the discussion makes me angry about it. When I’m calm and relaxed and not dazzled by my anger, then I cannot understand why I can’t just do it for others. But as soon as I’m in front of the situation to wear a mask, then immediately my anger arises and makes me a different person.
 
Robina, all what you’ve said this week so far reminded me of myself. I’m probably so attached to my opinion that wearing a mask makes no sense that it makes me suffer as soon as it comes to it wearing a mask (or to use sanitizer). But I just don’t know how to get out of it and not to get angry. Yes, I could see the mask as something different, not as a mask (like the woman in prison that made her cell a cave) but my resentment is so strong that it keeps telling me you’ll get infected by the fear and someone is out there who makes us all sick by weaken our immune system by constantly washing hands, using sanitizer, wearing masks, and do social distancing. I know this is all rubbish.
 
I am not a bad person. I am in general a very kind, helpful and compassionate person. But with COVID-19 it’s different, and I would like to change this. Do you have any practice you can give me to get rid of my anger? I already do Green Tara practice every day in the evening and Dharma practice (mantras, prayers, meditation) in the morning. But I don’t know if it’s enough.
 
Thank you for your help.  

Love,
L

ANSWER

Happy to hear from you, dearest L.

Well, I think you know your mind perfectly! You understand your anger. Of course, yes: when we don’t get what we want — and as you point out, in your case, that’s when ways of doing things are not what you agree with — anger is what arises.

So, the first main amazing step is seeing the problem, owning it. And you do. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the universe doesn’t! So you’re on the right track.

And even you “wonder why you can’t just do it for others” — you really understand, L.

And yes, it’s clear that you’re a good person. And it’s important you don’t define yourself in terms of delusions. Again, that’s what the world does. Be very clear about your good qualities and your delusions.

Plus you do Tara practice every day and other things.

So, what’s left to do? In a sense — nothing! L, you are doing so well. You are doing all the right things. You are moving in the right direction. I mean it.

The only thing left to do is to recognize, deeply recognize, that your anger — and therefore your attachment, which is the source of it; and your ego-grasping, which is the source of the attachment — are old old old habits. We came fully programmed with them at the time of conception as a result of practicing them in the past.

When we really get this we’ll understand that we have to keep practicing, keep purifying, keep attempting to control our body, speech and mind every second. That’s it!

In a sense your anger with all the COVID-19 drama isn’t really the problem. Your main problem is your anger with yourself for getting angry! This is really true with all of us.

Whether it’s our jealousy, our attachment, our depression that is the habit, when we see it we then proceed to add another delusion to the mix — being angry with ourselves, or being guilty, or getting depressed.

Bad enough that the old habit of anger pops up — but then we angry about it! That’s our problem.

Solution? Notice the anger come up — and then change your interpretation. Recognize it’s an old habit, know it doesn’t define you, know that it hurts you, and then be glad that you’re seeing it. It’s a crazy roommate: listen to anger’s story, but let it just rave it on, and don’t buy into its story. Don’t believe it.

Do you understand? It’s a very precise thing to do. The key to success is to hear what the anger is say — this crazy roommate — but don’t buy into the story.

Do you do the purification practice at the end of the day?

Much love,
Robina

QUESTION

Tashi Delek Robina,

Thank you so much for getting back to me. It’s good to hear that I’m on the right track. Just need to be patient with myself and keep practicing. 

I’ve read the following in a Buddhist book that for some reason helped me to not let my anger arise again:

“Do not cling to your opinions. Do not discuss your private views with others. To cling to and defend your opinions is to destroy your practice. Put away all your opinions. This is true Buddhism.”

I say this now every day to myself. I can now wear the mask without getting angry. I still don’t like it but I don’t have this anger anymore. Of course, it doesn’t always help yet to not let my anger arise with whatever “I” don’t like, but I try to remind myself or my husband reminds me of it and your words every day.

And yes, I do purification every evening. 

All the best and much love,
L

ANSWER

Well done, L! You really do understand – don’t cling to your opinions: don’t buy into anger’s story. So powerful.

And excellent that you do the purification practice at the end of the day. That really helps.

Much love,
Robina

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