We are taught to not feel angry.
We are taught, however, that anger is “bad” and that you “shouldn’t be angry”. Have you ever felt angry or resentful but have been unable to express it? Perhaps you were fearful of what the consequences may be.
We did learn as children, after all, that showing our anger usually meant getting punished.
The truth is that anger is a necessary emotion. You need anger to motivate you into action when some sort of injustice has been done to you or to someone you love. Anger occurs when you feel that you are not being seen, heard, valued or respected. You need this negative emotion to stimulate the actions that will initiate change.
What is not necessary is the behavior that arises from anger that can be damaging to you and others—when you react with a punch or vengeance, rather than respond with clarity and balance. Research even shows that such reactivity can hurt your health. Hostility and anger, for instance, have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
To respond with clarity and balance, you want to be able to allow yourself to be angry, then release it as you heal your own hurt.
Here are some things you can do:
1. Allow–allow yourself to feel angry. You have every right to feel this way. You are not “bad” and you are hurting no one by allowing yourself to “feel angry.”
2. Acknowledge to yourself that you are in need of attention, value and comfort.
3. Express & Release--anger is a powerful force of energy that needs to be let out—watch kids. When they are angry, they scream. When as children we are taught that it is bad to scream, we are essentially being told that it is bad to self-express. Here are some ways to let it out:
a. Scream into a pillow.
b. Get a punching bag and beat it up–what I prefer, because I prefer not to experience pain in my hands, is do a qi gong exercise (which is actually something that many wisdom traditions do) is get two small paddles and a bag of rice in burlap. And hit it as you scream AAAAH. It is good exercise too!
4. Anger release journal--this is in my book: You set the timer for 15 minutes, give or take a few minutes.
Then, you write without stopping. Write obscenities if you want about you why you are angry. Write without thinking as you
let it out.
When the timer goes off, stop writing and place your hands on the words. Say these words out loud: “I now release you from my body.
Then destroy the paper–burn it or shred. But create a ritual.
This entire process reprograms the notion of allowing, expressing and releasing.
5. Heal--this is really important. The reason you are feeling anger is because you feel invalidated, disrespected, not seen or heard, etc.
To help you be less reactive in the future, you deserve to receive love and know that you are loved just because you are alive.
–You can use your imagination here or go to a ‘live person’ to allow yourself to receive love. If you do not have someone you can go to, you can imagine that a divine parent is holding you and telling you that they love you just because you are alive.
6. Do the DIG. This is one of my favorites.
Again, anger stems from feeling de-valued, feeling robbed of your dignity, integrity and not being treated with grace. You can do it yourself. Imagine the sun shining down around you so that you feel held, safe and protected from the world, and let it pour into your body so that it fills you up with dignity, integrity and grace. Then repeat to yourself: Dignity, Integrity and Grace.
You can do this one in the moment, and the amazing thing, is that as you change internally, the person you are next to will change too. Seriously, if you put up your dukes, that other person will too. If you open your heart, they will too!
Originally published in 2009