This morning I woke up angry; I felt angsty and icky. I couldn’t quite put my finger as to why I might be angry, but all I know is that I felt it deeply in my core. I wanted to scream, start a fight, blame someone or get in my car and rage.
The anger was like a dark cloud dousing my light and swirling in turmoil inside me. It was festering and I felt like there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t see clearly, I couldn’t tap into my loving, I couldn’t see the good in anything in that moment.
I knew I needed to do something about what I was feeling, so instead of stewing in it or ignoring it, I put on my running shoes, popped in my headphones with my favorite playlist and took my pooch out for a long walk.
As I was walking and listening to music, I could feel the anger rising up in me. It was strong, it wanted to release, it wanted me to know it was there.
There was no way I could avoid it. It was that proverbial monkey on my back. I started to move my body, knowing that if I didn’t get the anger up and out that it would fester and wreak havoc on my emotional state. I cursed obscenities in my head, pretended that I was hitting a punching bag and as I walked, I pumped my arms and sang out loud.
It took about an hour, but all of the sudden on my walk back home, I noticed that my state had shifted. I noticed that I didn’t have the dark cloud swirling inside me anymore. I felt clear and the monkey was gone.
In many 12-step programs, they tell us anger is one letter short of danger, and I believe this to be true in many cases, especially if we do not know how to release or channel our anger.
Anger left unattended can be dangerous. It can lead us to hurt and even fatally harm others, blame others, and lash out if we do not know what to do with it.
As a young child, I was exposed to my father’s raging fury on a daily basis. Being in the center of this taught me to stuff my anger down because I knew firsthand how much his anger hurt me and my family. He didn’t know what to do with all the feelings he was having, so he’d drink to numb out and then unleash all those feelings on his family through physical violence and emotional abuse. Anger – one letter short of danger.
Through many years of self-inquiry along my spiritual journey, which entailed looking deeply into my past to heal the hurts I have experienced in my life, anger was an emotion that I was always afraid of. I shied away from feeling it. I thought it was bad. I thought it would engulf me if I let it come to the surface. I thought no one would love me if I showed anger. I didn’t want to be like my father, so I did everything in my power to not be, which meant not expressing anger. And because I shoved it down and avoided it, what happened is, it just came out sideways, in the form of sarcasm, judgments of myself and others and looking down on people. It also manifested in my body as illness and strong feelings of sadness.
It wasn’t until these past two years that I really got in touch with my anger, and that was because there was a person in my life who triggered all of it. This person was in service to me and helped me really get in touch with these deep dark parts of myself that I was afraid of. It was extremely painful, but it taught me that I don’t need to be afraid to feel angry and that if I know how to channel it, it can be of great service to me.
Anger needs to be released, it needs to be attended to in a resourceful and meaningful way. Often anger can show up to give us a message, or to let us know that we have been numbing out or avoiding ourselves and our feelings for too long. Anger is usually just a cover up for deep hurt.
Maybe we heard something in the news that made us angry, and we chose not to look at it in that moment. Maybe someone said something that sparked some hurt in us, and we chose not to speak up or we took it on as the truth. Maybe we had a dream that we awoke from feeling angry.
Whatever it is, anger will show up at the oddest times and when it does, I encourage you to acknowledge its presence and take a positive action to move through it without hurting anyone along the way.
Some ways that I do this is to move my body, as I mentioned above. Just the mere act of movement can release stored up emotions and help them to rise to the surface for tending. Sometimes I beat the heck out of my pillows, and although I feel silly doing it, boy do I feel good after. Sometimes I end up in a ball on the floor laughing. Sometimes what happens is a deep, deep hurt that was under all that anger comes to the surface and I get to flood myself with compassion and loving.
If you know you have anger and have been avoiding it, I encourage you to get it out and let it out using any of the techniques I mentioned above or find what works for you, as long as you do it safely. We do not want to hurt anyone and even ourselves with our anger, and know that it’s ok to feel it. It’s an emotion that can help take us to the deepest most loving parts of ourselves we may have been avoiding.
Loving you AND your anger!
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Melissa is personal chef, wellness coach and nutrition educator. Check out her website here.