What is Anger?
Anger is a gift, a portal to our true Self. It is also an expression of pain. It’s a desire to feel a part of something greater than ourselves, to feel connected to this life and this world. When we’re angry, we want to matter. While anger may take the shape of revenge-seeking behavior, feeling betrayed, demanding justice, the root of all of these feelings is our inner child saying “Please SEE ME.”
Shame and anger carry dense energies that surround us when someone or something has made us feel less than, unseen, or insignificant. Why is shame such a hush-hush word, and why do we pretend we are ok when we’re not? What of the masks we wear when we’re walking around in public — the ones which protect us from truly being seen and keep us small? We wear masks to reflect an image that we think the world wants us to be. Is it any wonder few of us have any idea who we actually are?
I have a message for the world and it’s this: Stop denying yourself the gift of your own anger.
There’s a misconception floating around in some spiritual circles that if you’re a spiritual person it’s all glitter and gold, but true spiritual work carries with it a wholeness. To practice spirituality means you embody both the shadow side and the light side and you cultivate a deep respect for both. True spiritual work is the integration of our shadow into our lives. It’s living out loud in our whole truth, and not just part of it.
As we pull the shadow side out from hiding, we expose the vulnerable parts of ourselves. In doing so, we allow people to see the real us, and we see the real us, sometimes for the first time ever.
Some types of spirituality carry with them the false belief that we can’t feel negative emotions and be a spiritual person. If we’re spiritual people, then we can’t be angry, right? That’s what the New Cage Movement tells us anyway. “Don’t be angry, push it down,” they say. Oops, you lashed out at someone, that’s not high vibration energy. Says who?
Anger may initially carry lower vibrational energies, mainly because of the way it’s expressed, but if we learn to acknowledge it with the same respect with which we acknowledge joy and love, we can alchemize our anger.
The Masks We Wear
You may wonder what the relationship between anger and shame is. Anger is a mask that covers up other emotions, such as hurt, fear, shame, feeling misunderstood, disappointment, jealousy, and/or frustration. All of these feelings that make up our anger are a part of our vulnerability, which is a superpower in its own right. So, if we are feeling vulnerable in one of those ways, we may choose to express this in the form of anger to avoid dealing with the real issue at hand.
Anger is easier than letting the world know we are hurt, we feel threatened, feeling at risk, unsure, and emotionally naked. Vulnerability is scary. It makes us feel exposed. Anger feels safe, especially if our family of origin taught us anger is an acceptable form of expression.
Anger is really a boundary issue — we allowed someone to step over one of our boundaries and now we’re pissed off about it. We’ve welcomed someone into our inner sanctum and they used and abused that privilege.
The Gifts in Our Anger
What can anger teach us about ourselves? How can anger shine a light onto the places we’ve hidden from ourselves? If we become curious about our rage, we have the power to transform our relationships and our lives.
Anger is a catalyst for profound change. Here’s the secret; we can’t create the life we want if we’re repressing our anger. Our anger is intimately connected to our happiness. An angry person has boundaries that have been violated, a heart that has been broken, and an inner child that feels unworthy. If we’re holding onto our anger, we can’t hold onto happiness. They don’t live in the same zip code.
When we do the inner work of releasing our shame connected to our anger, we create a vacuum for new beliefs to enter, new feelings to arise. Anger and shame are bedmates, thus releasing one helps us let go of the other. We create the perfect platform for new stories to be woven into the framework of our being.
The Power of Our Story
Have you ever felt like you could tap into the icky gunk of limiting beliefs, old stories, and past pain? Can you feel the uneasiness in your body when you bring up something that caused you pain or frustration? Well, we can actually tap into all of that. Each and every time we retell an old story, or state a limiting belief that our childhood gratuitously deposited in our minds, our bodies are actually reliving that story.
There is so much power in the stories we tell about ourselves. For instance, “I’m not good at sports. I could never be brave enough to do THAT! I am a late bloomer. Making money is hard.” At some point in time, someone decided to project their limitations onto us, because that’s the lens with which they see and experience the world. Those limitations turned into pain, but that pain was never ours to own.
Over time, that pain turns into anger. We feel like we can’t express how we really feel, because we’ve created a fake persona that doesn’t at all reflect our inner pain. This suppression can lead to disease in the body, and an overall feeling of being out of alignment with ourselves.
Denying your anger only fuels the all-encompassing fire within, and eventually, we explode or implode. We cannot hide from ourselves.
Moving through Anger
So, the question is, how do we ground ourselves in our bodies, come clean with the us that’s beneath the mask, and use our anger for empowerment? One way we can release pent-up anger is to move our body; dance, practice yoga, breathe, run, swim, and walk. Just move.
Another method that is highly effective is going out into nature, and tune into your primal rage by hitting the ground with a stick. While doing so, let your truth flow from your mouth — speak your shame, confront your anger, inner critic and gremlins. Move through the emotional debris that’s been stuck and pushed down. Let the power of each hit stem from your solar plexus, your place of personal power. Let it flow out. Once you’re physically fatigued, drop the stick and bring yourself close to the Earth. Imagine the ashes of the fire you’ve just created burning away everything you are not, and in its place discovering the true you.
Moving in certain ways shift stagnant energy and bring it to the surface. Just let your emotions rise and come to terms with what was and what is rather than how you wish things were in your life. When we accept what actually is, we step into authenticity of Self. Few are able to thoroughly grab hold of their anger and shame and step beyond the veil keeping them safe. Not many are willing to relinquish that false sense of control and allow themselves to truly be seen.
There are specific yoga poses I recommend to dig into the inner fire. Yoga teaches us resilience. Warrior I and II help us to dig down into ourselves and get honest with ourselves. As we stay in a pose when our legs are on fire and our body is screaming at us to stop, we allow our true essence to be revealed. We find out what we’re made of. In chair pose, we are asked to lift higher while we root down. Just as in life, when we feel out of our power, or pushed down, we rise up. We dig deep to find the jewels hidden from view. But, we rise.
Through primal movements, breathwork, and specific yoga sequences and poses, we heal. We tap into places in the body where we store this fire energy and we safely work with it. We give it space to rise up, be felt, seen, and heard. We tenderly acknowledge our fire and surround it with compassion and love. We grant it the freedom to show up as it is.
Our anger is a gift, and if we can find ways to alchemize it, we can transform our life and become the most powerful version of ourselves. Are you ready?