Anger used to terrify me. My body would automatically freeze and/or collapse when anyone around me expressed anger - this wonderful built-in survival system of my own body. All of our bodies have this nervous-system mechanism, there’s no shame in it.
For a significant portion of my life, I strongly identified as not* being an angry person.
(*to be discerned from identifying as a happy person. In this context, I moreso identified as a rejected part than a welcomed part.)
I saw how anger hurt people so easily and often with such cutting swiftness.
That hurt, once it occurs, can never be taken back.
It’s like trust - once we break it, it takes a lot to rebuild it - much more effort than if we were to simply maintain it well.
However, unbeknownst to my awareness, I wasn’t ‘not an angry person’...
I was just casting this incredibly important emotion into the shadows - into my unconscious awareness.
Anger is a fiercely, ferociously loving friend.
And when she is not listened to, she will come out with a vengeance.
I remember when I first really ‘touched’ my anger - It was terrifying - evenmoreso than feeling anyone else’s anger - because it was within my own self. I could not run or hide from it, as it was coming out of my own shadow.
We can’t run from our shadows forever ;) Remember trying to do this as a child when you first became aware of your shadow? Oh my! How fun & playful… then terrifying, then exhausting, then surrender. At least that’s how it went for me!
Though before this, to be real, my anger was certainly within me… but, because it wasn’t permitted a voice, it would simply come out in unconscious, uncharming, biting, passive-aggressive ways.
Just because we identify as ‘not something’, doesn’t mean it’s not true.
It very well can be the case that we are ignoring a deeply real part of our own humanity.
Whatever is true, will eventually make its way to the surface. It is inevitable.
I began opening myself, and turning toward my anger. Tending to its broken heart, and messily feeling its wrath of being ignored for so long.
Beneath anger, there is always some tenderness - grief, longing, vulnerability.
When we don’t allow ourselves to feel our anger, we also don’t allow ourselves to feel our deep, raw, vulnerable desires & dreams.
None of us are here for no reason.
Also, none of us are particularly, egoically special.
But, absolutely, unequivocally, we all matter.
Each and every one of us matter, because we exist.
Literally, you matter. You are the caretaker of a body made of matter.
This isn’t a self-esteem or ego-boost here, it’s just true.
Pause right now. Let this truth actually sink in.
And, each and every one of us have dreams, desires, longings, visions and ideas about how we wanted to grow up, the kind of world we desire to live in and co-create.
Many had their desires squashed before they could even be remembered. This is truly tragic.
When we can allow ourselves to be in real-time relationship with our anger (and all of our emotions), our anger is incredibly clarifying, before it becomes volatile.
Anger arises when we care deeply about something, and often arises when something needs to change.
Absolutely, it will inform us about our boundaries and needs. It is first, fiercely protective of the self, of the self’s community (be it family, religion, country etc)... and when it is no longer able to protect, it defends and thus becomes violent.
When we have a poor relationship with anger, we either let it take us over, or we let it collapse us (this was me). This is a black-and-white, reactive relationship with anger. When we have a responsive relationship with anger, it’s much more fluid and informative. It is truthful and clarifying without becoming violent.
If anger is not listened to for too long, it absolutely becomes volatile, violent, harmful, even deadly.
If it is stuffed down for too long, it simply becomes a pressure cooker that will inevitably explode.
I truly see this as what plays out in any act of violence.
This is one reason I value truth above any other value - even above non-violence. In some yogic teachings, non-violence is valued first (ahimsa) and truth (satya) second. And in nondual tantrik yoga (what I follow), satya comes first. It is my experience within my own self, and what I see within others, is that if we’re permitted to speak truthfully, honestly, rawly, vulnerably… the propensity for violence naturally dissipates on its own.
Anger will tell you what matters to you.
Anger will inform you what mattered before you forgot what mattered to you.
Anger will remind you to remember what you care deeply, profoundly about and what is true at the core of who you are.
If you don’t befriend your anger you are dangerous.
This will have you fall into either/both self-loathing & self-harm, and/or resentful & harmful to others.
It took me some real work to get into a right relationship with my own anger.
The more I have been able to really hear her, honor her, I invariably become a better listener and space-holder for others to welcome a healthy relationship with their anger as well. I can now thankfully hear people that I might have previously gotten triggered by. And not only truly hear where they’re coming from, but even more enriching, I find a lot of common ground with them.
I am grateful for this.
If you want to get in right relationship with your anger, let's chat.
photo credit: daphne | unsplash