Have you ever wanted to express your anger – but swallowed it instead because it didn’t seem spiritual, responsible, or politically correct? I know I have.
I’ve definitely suppressed, and/or stifled my anger about people, situations, and events in an effort to ‘not rock the boat’ – or to maintain some level of calmness or passive acceptance because I had defined spirituality as being loving, peaceful and approachable.
I’ve since realized, however, that this philosophy is a load of crap.
And not only is it time to debunk this big fat lie, it’s also important to learn why believing it is dangerous and detrimental.
Anger is a Messenger
Well, in reality – all feelings are messengers. It’s just that anger seems to be the most taboo out of all of them all because it’s heavily associated with the damage and destruction of the self, the environment, and humanity.
Anger is designed to let us know what we are thinking and feeling about a given set of circumstances. As far as emotions go, it’s pretty loud because it’s meant to grab our attention.
In and of itself, anger doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Believe it or not, it can be therapeutic, motivating and even creative.
It can become dangerous, however, when it isn’t used this way and instead, overtakes us…controlling our reactions and behavior.
And since we’re such a reactive society, the understanding that we do have a choice as to how we wish to work with anger eludes many of us.
But it doesn’t have to be this way any longer.
Observing Our Anger
When it comes to our emotions, especially where anger is involved, we tend to spend a lot more time interacting with them, rather than observing them.
That surge of adrenaline rises to the surface – overpowering the present moment awareness and before we know it, the damage is done. And because this damage is permanent sometimes, anger has been viewed as a destructive force that warrants avoidance at all costs.
However, if you are honest with yourself, I think you’ll realize that denying anger, or any other feelings that exist within us, is not only a tough thing to do, but it’s also painful. Our emotions are living, breathing entities with messages to share with us, and trying to swallow them is no different than trying to swallow a very LARGE living organism.
Do the words reflux and indigestion ring a bell?
And not only that; it’s important to understand that the negative feelings we’re ignoring didn’t actually go anywhere. They’re still around – under the surface, ready to pop up at any given time, in any given manner.
Passive aggressive behavior, depression, physical illness, suicidal thoughts, bullying/ being bullied and a host of other glorious sounding conditions develop – therefore creating a toxic environment both internally and externally – like undigested food sitting in your gut.
Now doesn’t that sound like fun?
So What Do You Do with Anger?
Well, this is the way I see it…
When we make the decision to become observers of our reality in addition to being participants, we are in a position to watch things as they unfold with a level of consciousness that allows room for alternate angles.
It’s not a half bad thing to learn to do because it could mean the difference between gaining some form of ‘understanding thyself’, or creating a total disaster.
Say, for example, that someone mistreats you. If it weren’t for your anger, you may not understand that you have the right to stand up for yourself.
If it were to take place while at work, your anger would let you know that there are behaviors going on over there that aren’t ‘kosher’.
You would appreciate your anger for communicating to you that you don’t agree with the behavior and that you would prefer to respect yourself enough to do something about it.
And if it turns out that you don’t respect yourself, your anger is telling you this as well – as the repeated treatment you will endure will continue to make you angry until you face it head-on.
It’s telling you – about you – via circumstance. It isn’t the circumstance itself, it’s the emotion the circumstance creates within you.
So if you were to change jobs, relationships, etc – you will most likely find that different people and events will pop up and reflect the same feelings in different ways. So what you would want to do is to ask yourself what your anger is telling you.
What’s the root cause? What do you believe about yourself? Are you a victim? Is the world filled with bad people who do bad things to you? And if so, why is this?
Dissect the feelings. Work with them by allowing your emotions to act as an alert – but nothing more for the time being. This will serve as a huge asset.
Anger can tell us a lot about ourselves. It alerts us to things such as:
- A belief, judgment or opinion we hold about something (often conditioned and unquestioned at that).
- Rights being violated.
- Being unhappy with our lives/ decisions/ ourselves.
- Feelings of disempowerment, or self-hatred.
- The need to learn to love ourselves in the presence of others, or society mistreating us.
- The need to wake up and see things differently.
Anger isn’t a cause. It’s a result that causes other results – depending on how you respond to it.
Making Your Anger A ‘Science Project’
My mom had once said to me, “Dana, act, don’t react”. I have since tweaked it to “feel, accept, observe and respond accordingly – rather than react from emotion”.
When you’re able to observe your anger in a way that fully allows it to transpire with a sense of curiosity, you are in a position to be objective enough to understand that you can – literally – orchestrate a response based on what’s best for everyone involved.
It’s assuming personal responsibility – which isn’t self-blame, but it is acknowledging that you and ONLY you can own your feelings.
And owning your feelings is empowerment – which is the solution to disempowerment – which quite often happens to be the problem to begin with.
So when you’re presented with a set of circumstances that make you feel disempowered on some level, the anger is LOUDLY informing you as to how you feel about your role in the scene playing out in front of you.
Spiritual vs. Non-Spiritual
Through listening to teachings here and there from people who dispense some interesting information, I’ve learned a few things. I don’t just accept anything I hear – nor do I believe that there is any one teacher (or anyone at all for that matter) who knows the secret to life.
This includes religions, historical figures, etc. But if something makes sense to me, and it brings a new way of seeing things to my life that has made a positive impact and seems to have digested well for me… then I view it to be true until, or unless, new information makes itself available to me through an expanded sense of awareness.
While, at one point, I had viewed spirituality as not allowing myself to be angry, sad, confused, depressed, etc – I now see that such emotions aren’t to be ignored, but observed, acknowledged and respected.
The difference between spiritual and non-spiritual isn’t whether or not we allow such feelings to transpire, but rather how we allow them into our awareness and learn about ourselves from what these feelings have to offer.
This is what personal responsibility looks like. It’s the act of living in situations, some easier to deal with than others no doubt, and observing what’s going on and what buttons are being pushed in you.
And THEN taking action from a place of understanding and wisdom.
Is it easy to refrain from allowing anger to overtake your better judgment?
And since anger is capable of showing itself rather quickly at times – a delay in ‘releasing the beast’ may seem unrealistic and impossible.
This is why awareness is your friend.
Because it isn’t about managing anger.
It’s about understanding it, and holding the desire to have your anger work FOR and with you rather than against you.
True spirituality isn’t about expecting the world to cater to your desires or refrain from conflict. Instead, it’s the conscious choice to be in full attention of your life, and every emotion you experience – to learn about who you are and why you feel the way you do.
Because then, and ONLY then will you ever be in a position to NOT WANT to avoid anger because you’ll see it as a teacher.
My Own Example
Many years ago, I held a job in which the manager treated me like shit. She acted like a childish fool, yelling at me in front of other people. I didn’t deserve it, it embarrassed me and I felt totally disempowered.
Years later, after enduring similar treatment from different supervisors while working different jobs, I observed the pattern.
I finally got angry!
And I realized that I was the one who needed to decide that enough was enough.
So I did.
And you know what? It marked the end of the workplace bullshit that I no longer had any tolerance for. I didn’t have to do anything destructive. I simply had to get real and assume responsibility for my perception, my experience, and my response.
I had to make the decision that I would no longer tolerate such treatment…and become that person.
If it weren’t for my anger, and my desire to look it right in the face, the pattern could have continued and most likely, would have gotten much worse as time went on.
Every job I have held since then I am treated with dignity, respect, and warmth – even after quitting. It was because I FINALLY listened to my anger – and made it my friend.
And it’s still a work in progress.
I still get angry, and I still have my little outbursts.
The difference now is that while I feel the anger, I observe it as well. It’s made a huge difference for me, and if enough of us did this, I feel it would help bring about a society of people who treated themselves, and each other with a higher level of consciousness, compassion and awareness.
Which we so desperately need.
And if all else fails, try meditation.
It’s an excellent way to observe your own thought process.
I have one you could start practicing right now.
So how do you work with your anger? Do you observe it? Or does it consume you?