Let Go of Anger
There are many reasons we don’t want to feel anger, but it usually leads back to shame and fear. For a woman that consulted me, it was both. She felt anger-shame since from a young age she learned that she was “not allowed to be angry.” This turned into a anger-fear that her emotions would betray her and feel the anger without her control. So she held onto that control very tightly and held in her feelings for a long time.
She grew up in a culture that put women in their place, and had sustained a violent marriage for many years. Anger would have brought her criticism and abuse. It was not safe. In my office, she was safe. Not only would I not judge, but I would encourage and allow her to have her feelings. It is OK to feel angry. It is an appropriate feeling response to loss, devaluation, and threat. Learning that anger is appropriate instead of “wrong” can change everything. Anger is no longer fueled by the energy of fear and shame. Just knowing it, allows it to change.
This woman needed time for her story about anger to unravel so she could let this go.
On this one day, she was feeling anger and felt very distressed, but determined to allow it in here with me. I slowed my breathing to help calm her. Then, I asked her to suspend the story of the anger by not thinking about the players and the threat or the fear and shame. I hoped that, for a moment, she could stay in the feeling and the feeling only and feel it fully.
I asked her to tell me what it looked like. “A huge ball of anger in her stomach.”
Then, I asked her to breathe light into that huge ball of anger in her stomach.
We breathed together for a few minutes. She watched what happened to the ball as she breathed into it. She said, “It is growing lighter and came up to my throat.” She breathed into for a few more minutes until she announced, “I am ready to let it go.”
I handed her a rock to help ritualize the letting go. She blew the energy of the anger ball out into the rock, very hard from deep in her gut several times. After, sitting back on the couch with her eyes still closed, a peaceful look came over her face. She breathed. She was quiet for a few more minutes, feeling the peace without the anger. Then, she sat up, opened her eyes and smiled.
“That felt so much better than holding it in!”
Have compassion. Thinking that something is wrong with what we feel can cause so many problems in our lives. An unfelt, unresolved feeling (especially one we judge to be pathological) can wreak havoc on our emotions, our relationships, and our identity. How would our lives be different if we just allowed our feelings? When we allow our feelings, they are never as bad as the torment of holding them in. When we allow them, we pass through them. And this, surprisingly, does not take long.
In today’s episode, I talk about
How to get rid of anger
We all get angry sometimes
Anger freaks people out. They don’t want to feel it. It doesn’t match the way they want to be in the world. But here’s the thing: The way to get rid of your anger is to allow yourself to feel angry. There’s always a reason for it. Somebody hurt you or somebody wasted your time or disrespected you. What happens is we get angry and then we judge ourself about it. Do you know what that does? That just makes it more powerful over us. If you allowed yourself to feel and understood your original anger as totally appropriate, then you’d have compassion for yourself. This changes anger. It dissipates.
When we’re angry, we are upset about something that is precious to us that has been lost or threatened. If you know what this is and acknowledge and validate it, then your anger dissolves.
Have compassion for yourself – THAT is the key
When you allow anger, you stop holding on to it. And in this way, you’re letting that you, that you want to be, shine through.
What do you do with your anger? How do you have compassion for yourself so that you can forgive?