I have struggled for so long with the emotion of anger. It used to be when I was a little girl that I would get red in the face (because of holding my breath), and then erupt with the improper use of profanities. Calling someone a dammit for example, which doesn’t sound like much until you imagine it coming from your deeply enraged 4-year-old.
I know that part of the large-ness of this emotion for me was internalized by my explosive, red-faced parents who went much further than name calling. I also know that by Ayurvedic diagnosis of body/mind constitution, I am pitta, which is ruled by fire. I also know that I am a fire sign, Sagittarius x 3(sun, moon, and rising, for the astrology savvy readers). Most of all, I know that knowing these things will not help me if I am constantly sabotaging myself with an underlying belief system that says anger=bad.
So, I’ve been working for a few years now to change my conditioning around anger and investigate my felt sense of anger and, more importantly, my relationship to it. And I have had lots of help from the following sources….
My husband, who validates me to the dangerous point that I almost embrace anger entirely. No one wants to see that.
My friend, Debra Hess, who has introduced me to the teachings of Karla McLaren, author of The Language of Emotions
Lee Fogel, a mentor in Somatic Visioning, who showed me how to listen to the wisdom of my body and its distinct messages, namely around shame.
David Whyte, a poet with, what I think is a radical and somewhat enlightened view of anger
“ANGER is the deepest form of compassion, for another, for the world, for the self, for a life, for the body, for a family and for all our ideals, all vulnerable and all, possibly about to be hurt. Stripped of physical imprisonment and violent reaction, anger is the purest form of care, the internal living flame of anger always illuminates what we belong to, what we wish to protect and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for. What we usually call anger is only what is left of its essence when we are overwhelmed by its accompanying vulnerability, when it reaches the lost surface of our mind or our body’s incapacity to hold it, or when it touches the limits of our understanding. What we name as anger is only the incoherent physical incapacity to sustain this deep form of care in our outer daily life; the unwillingness to be large enough and generous enough to hold what we love helplessly in our bodies or our mind with the clarity and breadth of our whole being.
What we have named as anger on the surface is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness, a powerlessness connected to such a profound sense of rawness and care that it can find no proper outer body or identity or voice, or way of life to hold it. What we call anger is often simply the unwillingness to live the full measure of our fears or of our not knowing, in the face of our love for a wife, in the depth of our caring for a son, in our wanting the best, in the face of simply being alive and loving those with whom we live.
Our anger breaks to the surface most often through our feeling there is something profoundly wrong with this powerlessness and vulnerability… Anger in its pure state is the measure of the way we are implicated in the world and made vulnerable through love in all its specifics.
Anger truly felt at its center is the essential living flame of being fully alive and fully here; it is a quality to be followed to its source, to be prized, to be tended, and an invitation to finding a way to bring that source fully into the world through making the mind clearer and more generous, the heart more compassionate and the body larger and strong enough to hold it. What we call anger on the surface only serves to define its true underlying quality by being a complete but absolute mirror-opposite of its true internal essence.” -David Whyte
Through observing myself, I have gathered this information first hand…..
The micro expression of anger (the beginning of feeling it) sharpens my senses, gives me incredible focus, and points directly to what I value in life.
When I don’t allow myself to recognize and feel that sharpening and heat, more sharpening and more heat are created. Problems ensue.
When I don’t manage my anger and disappointment early, I risk being rude to or hurting another, which hurts me for a long time.
This is a process. I will fail many times until I can manage anger without any residual hurts, no matter how small. This is how it must be for me and I am making progress.
Relaxing in the moment gives space to see clearer how I can respond, or if it is wise to not respond in the moment.
There is integrity in my anger, if I am acting from a balanced mind
It is the same fire of anger, in its purest form that leads me to do great things. Even this pure form needs to be tended to so that it does not burn me or others or go out.
So, as many folks predict that 2017 may be more of the same tumult that 2016 dealt out, I sense that many of us will have lots of opportunities to work with this potentially holy fire. It has been painful so far and progress is slow, but it seems that this is the necessary work of a seeker.
Thanks for reading.