Anger. Feeling it. Processing it. Being with it.
Our culture doesn’t like to talk about it, so it feels important to share this.
There’s a perception that we can abate anger with exercise, meditation, and focusing on love. That can work sometimes. Exercise boosts mood. Meditation helps us see our thoughts and emotions. Love can help us open the heart, if the conditions are right. We have to remove the walls. But these things do not always work.
We have a discomfort with anger because we view it as a “negative” emotion that we are not “supposed” to feel. This is true for men and women. We have stereotypes of the “angry white man” or the “angry black man.” Women who get angry are “bitches.” It’s not “feminine” to get angry. It’s not “ladylike.”
Why are we so resistant to emotions?
Our cultural attitudes towards emotions are so fucked up. We create an expectation that feeling anger is “bad.” Even though it is one of the most basic human emotions.
We go to great lengths to escape or push away our emotions. We stay busy. We throw ourselves in to books, podcasts, social media, work, web-surfing, alcohol, drugs (legal and illegal), nicotine, food, television, and all the positive mantras we can find.
Anything to avoid feeling it.
But here’s the thing: we can’t avoid it.
Even if we try to push it out of our minds, it lives in the body. It shows up as illness and disease, or aches and pains.
The Danger of Avoiding Anger
If we don’t process it in a healthy and constructive way, we end up teetering on the edge of outrage until something causes us to snap.
What we suppress controls us. When we don’t acknowledge anger, we live in fear of it.
Anger isn’t some terrible fate to be avoided. It’s an emotion, just as valid as joy.
Wouldn’t it be more constructive for our culture to learn healthy ways to process anger? To eliminate the shame of feeling a basic human emotion? To teach children and adults how to be with their anger so that they don’t destroy themselves or others when the anger burns out of control?
The first step to dealing with anger constructively is to notice it. “Notice it” doesn’t mean listen to the story about it. I mean notice how it feels in the body.
Listen to Your Body
I’ve spent years learning how to listen to my body. Through formal classes and in working with holistic healers, I’ve learned about the chakra system, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. I’ve studied how energy moves through the body. They are all very similar in their approach.
When breath isn’t flowing to one area, it impacts the entire system. Our breath is our life force. It fuels our organs, muscles, and limbs with oxygen, giving them energy. Oxygen is the most crucial nutrient we need to survive.
When breath cannot travel to different parts of the body they lack energy. Muscles can’t develop properly. It doesn’t matter how many protein bars I eat. The body becomes weak. Anger often leads to other symptoms and conditions that we might not realize are related.
Our bodies speak to us. We just need to learn how to listen.