Saturday, January 8, 2011

Emotions - Part II - Anger

This book by Gill Edwards, Stepping Into The Magic, is really a gem. It is not often you can get very practical advice that incorporates spirituality, clinical psychology, and a writer that is adept at connecting with their reader. She's trained in metaphysics, shamanism and energy psychology. She has studied with a Hawaiian Kahuna, which is my ultimate dream, yet offers a commonsense approach to life. I highly recommend this book.

Back to emotions -

We know that unexpressed emotions turn into 'gremlins' such as illness, anxiety, self-pity, and a list of other issues that I talked about in my last post. The goal is to try and find a way of dealing with them now, without causing ourselves more pain and suffering. I suggested hitting a pillow if you were feeling angry, but what about if you don't really know what unresolved emotions are lying dormant - causing you problems? Let's look at them one by one. From the book:

"The most common telltale signs of suppressed anger are depression and/or anxiety, self-pity, blame and resentment, guilt, apathy and inertia, sarcasm and irritability, struggle and martyrdom, addiction to drugs, alcohol, work, sex, food, etc., accidents (often an expression of anger turned against the self), cancer, arthritis and other diseases, having affairs, or violence and aggression. (Violence is not an expression of pure, clean anger, but a symptom of bottled-up rage and fear which has eventually exploded.) Since the world is a mirror, noticing any of these signs in people around us can also indicate suppressed anger!"

Wow, that covers a lot of issues. This one resonated with me. I've believed for some time that I have an inner child furious that her mother left her as a child. Yes, death is not something that you can actually blame on a person, but that child was only six. Anger would have been appropriate response to the death of someone so detrimental to her well being. So for me, this is an issue. I won't go into all of the symptoms I have, but suffice it to say - I definitely have a few.

One technique that she suggests to deal with anger would be to write a very angry letter to the person or people concerned. After expressing your total disgust with this person(s), either tear the letter into little pieces and flush it - or create a ritual whereby you burn it in a fire-safe container. By writing everything down, and leaving nothing out, you are able to express exactly how you've been hurt, abused, neglected, disrespected, etc. You've had a chance to feel the anger associated with the incident - now it's time to let it go. 

Other ways of expressing anger in a healthy way would be to pretend to feel the anger while punching a pillow or cushion until the real anger begins to surface. Role-playing, if you will. One way I dealt with angry emotions as a teenager was to take a long walk, or jog, returning home to a long hot bath. She suggests punching the air on your walk, shouting or yelling, all within a safe place to do so, however. We don't want anyone arrested...

I would like to inject a point here that I feel strongly about - we tend to not take into account people and where there are in their lifespan. In other words, don't expect a child, or adolescent, to know how to deal with their anger in the same way an adult or senior would. We are all in different places in our lifespan and that is too often left out of the equation. I sometimes have to remind myself that my 23-year-old is not in the same place as I am when it comes to emotions and decision-making. I simply cannot expect her to understand some things that are seemingly obvious to me. Her view of the world is very different from mine. And that goes for all of us. Be aware that your anger, that feels so overwhelming now, may look different in a few years.

She suggests that you "don't attempt to forgive someone for hurting you, or to understand why you created a traumatic event, until you have first dealt with your anger, hurt and other emotions. Always take care of your Basic Self before 'up-leveling' to your Higher Self - otherwise you will attract further events which will bring those emotions to the surface. Anger does not have to rational, it does not have to be reasonable. Emotions simply are. By feeling your anger, you are honoring your inner Child, your Basic Self." 

She goes on to say that if you feel it appropriate to express you anger to the person concerned - that it be "clean anger." Clean anger is an expression of how we feel, dirty anger is deliberately hurtful or manipulative, full of blame and the desire to punish. It is focused on the other person and not on your own feelings. 

"If your intention is to be hurtful, it might be wise to cool down before expressing yourself."

I knew this post would be long, therefore I'll look at some of the other issues in my next post. I truly believe anger, and all of it's ensuing issues, is a huge problem in our world right now. The only one we have any power to change is ourselves, but by looking inside, seeking out our inner 'gremlins', we make our inner world a better place. Once our inner world is in a better place, it can reflect into the macro.

Next time: fear, shame and guilt, doubt and confusion. This could take longer than I thought...


DJan said...

I totally agree with all this, Nancy. I think that the therapy I have gone through has helped me to deal with suppressed anger. I have plenty of it, and I think many people do. These are all good ideas, but I found that scream therapy REALLY helped me. It allowed me to vocalize my rage, and then it began to dissipate.

Nancy said...

DJan - You have had much in your life to scream about - I'm so glad you found something that worked well for you. I'm not sure I've found the definitive way for me yet. Just when I think it's conquered it shows up in another way.

California Girl said...

I just emailed this post to myself. I have anger issues you would not believe (well, maybe you would) and alot of health issues and I can really pinpoint the people I'm angry with or was angry with for many years. I've blamed many of my health problems on stress but perhaps anger was another factor.

Natalie said...

That book sounds really good, Nancy.
I like to write and write and write and talk and write and talk it out. When I go back some weeks later and read what I have written, I cringe with how it sounds, but hey! Whatever gets you through.

Reya Mellicker said...

I like what Pema Chodron says, that anger is a "piercing" energy that reveals the truth. But if you cling to it, it will "burn" you. I know that to be true!

susan said...

Everyone gets angry sometimes whether it's with a person who cuts us off in traffic, a co-worker who takes credit for our work, or a betrayal by someone we trust. Anger challenges us to look deeply into ourselves to see that mostly it arises from unresolved fears and mistaken views of who we are as people. It's a very seductive emotion because there's pleasure to be found in finding fault with something. The lesson to be learned is the deep breathing, quiet sitting one (meditation?) while you embrace the anger with patience and compassion. If it gets away from us all we can do is to resolve to do better next time.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Anger is as much a part of being human as love or any other emotion is. But it's so powerful that to suppress it creates all kinds of problems. I find that hitting a pillow or walking outside and screaming at the top of my lungs really helps. Get it out, one way way or another. Then figure out what it's about.


great review of what seems a great tool for anyone to have - we all have anger at times - some more than others and at differing degrees, but anger nonetheless - so many truths here - thanks for the resource!

Nancy said...

California Girl - Maybe it's a good time to take a look? We can't resolve issues related to unresolved emotions unless we shine a light on them. You are not alone in this.

Natalie - I liked her idea with the writing and then the burning - symbolic of "letting it go into the ethers."

Reya - I love Pema - and it so true about anger.

susan - I agree. I've learned to let it wash over me, but be aware of how my body feels. The purpose of these posts is to help us get in touch with the unresolved anger - especially when we don't even know it's there, but we have symptoms that are inexplicable. Eventually, with practice we can recognize it and like you said - "embrace the anger with patience and compassion." We are human after all. Thank you!

Trish & Rob - Exactly!

Gypsy - Our world is immersed in it right now - the shooting in Arizona is a sad reminder.

Brian Miller said...

i understand the part about forgiveness but i wonder if that is part of the healing or letting go of the anger...

Nancy said...

Brian - Ultimately I think that it is, she is saying don't try to do it before healing the inner child, or Basic Self. I think it's about honoring ourselves and our feelings, and then healing them.

Marcus T. Anthony said...

Important post, Nancy. Anger is one of my soul issues too, having been badly abused and neglected as a child. I agree with just about all the writer says. The part about forgiveness is important. It's true that there is no genuine forgiveness until anger is fully acknowledged and expressed. To "forgive" someone without acknowledging your anger is just a head trip. One thing about beating pillows and expressing rage is that there is a need to actually "channel" it, and not project it at the person (even if they are not present). This is a subtle distinction. Inner child work can be very powerful, and setting up some dialogue with the angry inner child and "re-parenting" it is very useful. The final factor is not to believe in the story the anger is telling you, and thus make an identity out of the whole thing. The story is usually about how evil the other person is and how they did you wrong, and that you are a victim - even when you ARE a victim in a literal sense. Finally, when you do get really angry, it is normal to want to cry. The grief is part of the letting go, of healing. But the anger should come first. Many women go into the crying and bypass the anger, becasue they have been taught "good girls are sweet and nice". This - and pardon for the un-PC term - can turn the woman into a bitch, because there is no legitimate outlet for the real emotion of anger. Bitchiness is repressed anger. Marcus

Gaston Studio said...

Powerful post Nancy. Thanks for sharing.

Friko said...

There isn't really anything on the list of signs of internalised anger left out; the whole catalog of negative emotions and actions is there.

I am not sure that I like the idea of 'blaming' a cancer, say, or a mental illness, on previous experience. it might turn into a good reason to 'blame' the sick person for their misfortune, over which they have almost no control.

Anger can be the cause of many conditions in later
life, I accept that, but to find a blanket root cause for all ills in it seems to have inherent dangers.

I am receiving treatment myself at the moment and have done at various times in my life and although the management of anger about past events is a large part of it there are other causes to be explored.

Btw I have not left your blog, I thought you had left mine.

Nancy said...

Marcus - Thank you for your input. This series is really about looking within and seeing if there is something lurking that may be causing pain and suffering. The mind is so good about protecting the body during times of real stress, but it eventually surfaces and needs to be healed.

Gaston - Anger seems to be the way these days - I thought it timely.

Friko - No - I've just been sick since about the middle of December and haven't been reading as much as usual. The writer believes sickness is a way the body is trying to get your attention, either to heal old wounds or to get you to get exercise, eat right, get fresh air, etc. All issues for me, btw. :-)