As we said in our last blog, we believe anger is always motivated by love. Love of ourselves or others and a desire to protect ourselves or others, or to enable ourselves or others to move forward and live a rich fulfilling life with integrity and honesty. Think for the last time you were angry — what were you wanting to protect yourself from? Or what rights were you wanting to stand up for? Or what was being blocked that you wanted to move towards?
Sometimes we can fear that our anger is ‘over the top’ or ‘disproportionate’. If you have a judgement that what you are angry about is insignificant or unreasonable think back to a time in your life where this might have been really important to you. For example –‐ if you get angry when people hug you you might judge this as an overreaction, knowing that they are just trying to be friendly and mean no harm. However, if you wish to explore your anger’s motivation you can think back and you may find that there was an earlier time in your life when being touched by someone who you didn’t know was very harmful to you. So, now your anger is alerting you to a situation that, in the past, was damaging for you. Your anger might be saying ‘I’m standing up for my right not to be touched by people I don’t know.’ This might not seem crucially important to you now, but it was in the past, and your anger is alerting you to this.
Anger arises as a problem when it has built up over a long period of time without any way of being expressed. This can occur in childhood, if we have been brought up in an environment where there was no one present to listen to our anger, or it may not have been safe for us to express it for some reason. This ‘repressed’ or ‘shadow’ anger can colour all our reactions in life and leave us unable to judge when our anger is ‘healthy’ and when it is about old wounds and hurts and may be disproportionate to the situation we are in.
When we can’t trust our anger we are in trouble, as anger is vital for protecting ourselves and living a full life. If we carry a lot of anger from our early lives this can cause us to behave in one of two ways –‐ our anger may come out in an explosive, frightening way, that seems out of our control, and can do far more harm than good. Or we may try to repress our anger even further and never express it or stand up for ourselves in clear and straighforward ways. Rather we may revert to underhand, manipulative and punishing behaviours. Sometimes known as ‘passive aggressive’ this unclear behaviour can leave others feeling very uncomfortable and angry with a sense that they are not quite sure what’s going on and can’t really trust us. This absolute avoidance of the open expression of anger can end up being just as damaging to relationships as unpredictable explosions of anger.
In order to have control of our anger and be able to use it in powerful effective ways we need to get to know any shadow anger we may have, we need to be allowed to express this in a safe place and have it heard and recognised as an appropriate reaction to our childhood experiences. We can then begin to learn to trust our anger and to trust ourselves to behave powerfully and effectively in current situations which may call out our anger.
In Shadow Work we provide a physically and emotionally safe and shame free space where there are no real world consequences, where you are able to fully explore your shadows and learn to use qualities such as anger in a safe and healthy way.
“If you try to get rid of fear and anger without knowing their meaning, they will grow stronger and return.”
~ Deepak Chopra ~
“Anger is like flowing water; there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you let it flow. Hate is like stagnant water; anger that you denied yourself the freedom to feel, the freedom to flow; water that you gathered in one place and left to forget. Stagnant water becomes dirty, stinky, disease-ridden, poisonous, deadly; that is your hate. On flowing water travels little paper boats; paper boats of forgiveness. Allow yourself to feel anger, allow your waters to flow, along with all the paper boats of forgiveness. Be human.”
~ C Joybell C ~
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