It’s not anger that’s the freaking problem – it’s FEAR of anger.
It’s not anger that’s the problem, it’s FEAR of anger that makes us do almost anything to avoid it – squash it down, brush it off, pretend it’s not there, wish it wasn’t there and all the other ways that we make it “wrong”.
I tend to make a big deal out of anger, because the effect of it in my life has been huge. My own experience has been that of angry violence and the realization that anger was “bad”. And the way that we were raised … good girls don’t get angry. Indeed good girls weren’t allowed to be angry in our house. Thus I suppressed anger and rage into my own body, causing ongoing physical problems and the outbursts of temper that frightened the crap out myself let alone everybody else.
There’s three ways of dealing with anger and the way it was dealt with in my childhood is one of them – the anger expressed outwards at someone else aggressively, often inflicting some kind of mental, emotional or physical hurt. Then we have what’s been labelled by the psychologists as “passive aggressive” ways of internalizing our anger. (You’ll see why I dislike that expression in a minute!) Then we have the open hearted, understanding and occasionally powerful version of anger that clearly says what is not OK.
To understand the open hearted, understanding version of anger, it’s useful if we understand the other two types first. We’re all familiar with anger expressed outwards as some form of violence, even if we only see it out there in the world, so let’s start with understanding the passive aggressive.
A desire to avoid conflict
Passive aggressive is such a crappy, judgmental sounding expression for what is simply anger that we don’t want to express, or are scared to express because of a desire to avoid conflict. Gosh those of us who desire to avoid conflict are the opposite of aggressive – we work our butts off to not be aggressive and yet with our unspoken stuff blazing out in our energy (instead of our words and actions), we feel aggressive to others no matter how much we smile and hide that anger that we are so afraid will cause conflict.
Remember our Escalating Upsets? There’s that old problem, that our UNspoken stuff in many ways has a bigger impact than our spoken stuff, because most people won’t understand why they feel so crappy on the receiving end of that – and that’s when we risk that escalating upsets situation.
Hey, I COMPLETELY understand a desire to avoid conflict. I’ve spent my LIFE avoiding conflict – I’m an expert at it. 🙂 When I was writing this lesson for you, I had a tumbling in of insights around my own anger and the fear that has been causing me to avoid anger like the plague – my own and other people’s. At one time I could hear my haunted little girl’s voice saying “don’t hit me anymore”.
Fear of anger
So the big deal insight for me was about FEAR of anger being the root of the anger and rage problem. It’s FEAR of anger that has us resisting it, suppressing it, burying it and intensifying it.
Anger itself is a seriously cool emotion. In the big picture, it’s responsible for the kind of passion that drives positive change in our communities and in society in general. That passion also drives our desire for justice.
And in the right here and now, pure anger is heart wide open and understanding, and can be a simple, gentle and firm “no that is not acceptable”. Or it can be a powerful “No! Enough! No further! This is NOT OK!” – still with heart wide open and flowing with understanding.
And collectively anger is the energy that has us standing 1000 feet tall and our collective voice roaring “ENOUGH!, No more, Thou Shall not pass…” I’m smiling at the expression “thou shall not pass” because the first time I heard myself say that, I was thinking what a weird old fashioned expression it was and wondered where it was coming from. 🙂
But when we have experienced someone else’s expression of anger that is NOT open-hearted and understanding, it’s likely to drive us straight back into childhood fear of other people’s anger (whether they expressed that outwards like my father did or inward like I expect my mother did) – so of course we avoid other people’s anger like the plague and do whatever we can to avoid conflict that might bring up other people’s anger.
And then … der… because of that fear, of course we avoid looking at and understanding and flowing OUR OWN anger like the plague too. And it’s the resistance to the anger, the suppressing of it and the building up of it that causes the bigger anger and the explosive disconnect of rage that I was talking about in our emails (and I’ve told you the motorbike story in a p.s. below.)
[framed_box]Somehow we have to stop making anger and fear of anger and rage wrong and find compassion and understanding for ourselves and others.
I understand only too well how difficult that is, because the effects of misunderstood and bottled up anger and rage are often so very destructive – but when we make ANYTHING wrong it makes it sooo much harder to understand ourselves AND it makes it very difficult to understand the other person in such a way that we are of any use to them or indeed to the people around them who may be at risk of escalation too.[/framed_box]
The physical expression of anger in our bodies
Anger when it’s buried is stored in the liver, resentment in the gall bladder, rage in the spleen and the insight I got writing this is that I have been burying my fear of anger in the pancreas. The pancreas also stores emotions that I define best as the opposite to feeling the sweetness of life. When I allowed my thoughts to flow about that combination – it made sense to me that fear of anger and the opposite of sweetness of life are closely linked. How can we enjoy all that life has to offer if we don’t know how to set a boundary comfortably? How can we enjoy life’s sweetness if we are experiencing the kind of bitterness that comes from people constantly doing stuff to us that we consider is not OK? Even if we haven’t actually said “no.”
It doesn’t matter what ancient culture you look at, from one end of the world to the other, across vast distances, they all talk about storing the same emotions in the same parts of the body. That is not a coincidence.
Back to anger though, this connection between the emotions and the organs is even enshrined in our modern language. When someone is easily angered, in Australian slang we say they have “shit on the liver”. We talk about someone “venting their spleen” when they’re really angry and yelling about it.
As well as producing insulin that governs how the body uses and stores fuel and fats, a healthy pancreas (fear of anger, lack of sweetness of life) also produces the correct chemicals in the proper quantities, at the right times, to digest the foods we eat. The liver (where we bury anger) is also critical to digestion. It also processes toxins – both the side effect of metabolic processes inside our body and toxins from outside our body. The spleen (where we bury rage) among other things has a critical role in the immune system.
Thus the effect of these organs being chronically or long term affected by anger and resentment and rage, is to reduce the body’s ability to digest foods, reduce the body’s ability use its food/fuel properly, reduce the processing of metabolic waste from inside the body and toxins from outside the body, sends the storage of fats haywire and reduces the immune systems ability to function.
No wonder this is such a big deal – specially as we get older and accumulate a lifetime’s effects of our body having to work so much harder than otherwise to do the daily repair work. Actually the fact that it DOES do that daily repair work so well at all is a freaking miracle all by itself, hey? We could pause for a moment and appreciate that! 🙂
So what can we do?
First of all, we don’t make ourselves wrong about anything – it is counter-productive and makes it much more difficult to move forward. Just a hint… This means that making OTHER people wrong is just as counter productive and makes it so much more difficult for them to move forward.
So even as we read about what we can do, smile a little – yeah right now! Smile a little and allow the smile to soften your eyes as you read.
Be as Present to the feelings of our minds and emotions and bodies as much as is our skill right now – i.e. be aware of, take notice of what you feel.
We are looking for this to be a relaxed experience – using our technique of smiling a little and allowing the smile to soften our eyes – and just deciding to be aware of our feelings. Notice, observe and flow with any physical, emotional energy or thought. There is NEVER any pain in the answer. Repeat that again. There is never any pain in the answer
And repeat that yet again – yes you! – this time with feeling. There… is… never… any… pain… in… the… answer. I could hear a dutiful chorus then – excellent!
And we’re doing it with that gentle smile because we know now that trying too hard gets in the way of our inner guidance system.
When we are Present the understanding of our anger – the understanding of all our feelings that we are feeling in that moment – just flows. We understand the effect of the past on what’s happening now and how that has brought the other person to this place in time and what has shaped their behavior and sometimes we can even see it’s flow on into the future for THEM.
That understanding enables us to have that compassionate, open hearted, gentle and firm “no thankyou” and all the way to the powerful, “No! This is not OK! Stop! Enough!” of the fierce love, righteous anger way of setting of a boundary. When we’re Present we automatically flow with the perfect amount of energy in the moment to achieve what we want.
Becoming more and more Present for me has come in layers and with practice. Animals have helped me practice. Your animal/s will love to help you practice too. 🙂
Today’s Quiet Mind
Heads up folks… 🙂 There is no need to go digging around in the past looking for something that you were angry about – that’s not necessary. The layers of being Present that we’re looking for, is what will bring you more and more peace of mind and more and more happiness. Use this Quiet Mind as practice that will help being able to find being Present easier and easier or IF you find yourself annoyed or angry about something.
If you can’t see the audio player or if you have any other trouble, click here for the Quiet Mind to support anger.
Written version of the Quiet Mind
Please Note: I’ve also set the reiki healing energy to flow for anyone who wants extra support during this Quiet Mind. Just ask for it and it will flow. 🙂
This Quiet Mind is giving you the opportunity for understanding of something that you are or have been feeling anger about. It’s NOT about fixing you, because you’re not broken – in fact you’re the opposite of broken. Your body is exquisitely (and sometimes painfully) working it’s butt off to repair itself.
Even if you’re ill, it’s very important to feel into your own Truth around the fact that you’re not broken and don’t need fixing – it’s about understanding the messages from your body and how best you can support your body, so that the natural healing rhythms can flow effortlessly.
It’s not even looking for or trying to get understanding. It’s just quietening your mind to let whatever understanding is there, flow in when it’s ready – now or later.
It’s also about PRACTICING being Present, so that we can be Present easier and easier as time goes on and flow deeper into the layers of it.
So, when you’re ready, smile a little and allow that smile to soften your eyes.
And take your gentle attention to your outward breath.
And as we’re starting to become aware of ourselves, make that sweet decision to be kind to ourselves today.
From here, we can just allow our attention to gently expand out into our bodies, or we might systematically go through the list of noticing the way that the lower part of your ribs just squash that last bit of breath from your lungs.
Listening for your heartbeat.
And if you can’t quite feel that, then just imagine that you can.
Notice and allow the energy and the emotions to flow, grounding anything down through your feet into the earth if it feels too big. That too is effortless – all you have to do is to be aware of the flow of emotions and energy down to your feet and into the earth.
Notice and allow the thoughts and ideas to flow, just observing the patterns of them, the emotions and any other feelings raised up by them, knowing that there’s gold at the bottom of them. 🙂
Allow yourself to notice and observe any physical sensations in your body, just smiling a little and allowing that smile to soften your eyes.- as you just be aware of what your body feels like.
If you’ve come to this Quiet Mind to look for some support about something specific that you feel angry or overwhelmed with, then it’s about quietening your mind and giving yourself the opportunity to have the understanding flow effortlessly about precisely what it is that you are angry about, about how you reached this moment of “now” in your life and what fear there is behind this anger, so that at some point – when you’re ready – you can see the choices that flow into the future.
THEN you will be able to to choose your anger to be the bright flame for something to change that anger really is – gentle or powerful – the amount of energy perfectly balanced with whatever is needed.
If there’s someone else involved that you’re angry with, it’s about understanding how they’ve reached that place in their lives with that behavior and how best to put that “you shall not pass” boundary in place.
Be open to the idea that so much of what we’ve bottled up was not ours and feel into how good it feels to be open to understanding whose it is.
And when we come across something that we’ve picked up through our natural and excellent connection to others, then it’s just because there’s something for YOU to know or do, for or about THEM. The process is the same, just know that the understanding will flow when you’re ready.
If anything feels stuck or big, then ask for and feel the reiki energy flowing into that part of your body – creating the opportunity for you to understand the message from your own mind, body and spirit…
Smile a little and allow the smile to soften your eyes and sit quietly for a while, giving yourself the opportunity for that understanding to flow – whenever you’re ready – now or later…
Pause and soak up and appreciate and allow that appreciation time to expand into gratitude and happiness at every feel good moment that you experience. That’s how you create feeling good as your new normal.
I’m giving you another one of Deva Premal’s beautiful chants, at the bottom of the page if you’d like to continue your Quiet Mind for longer. Whether all your understanding of this anger has flowed in this time together or whether there’s layers or if your understanding needs to unfold quietly in your own good time, you can smile and get on with your day, knowing that your way – this way – is utterly perfect for you right now.
Feel the clothes on your skin, rub your feet on the floor, rub your hands on your legs and take this lighter you into enjoying the rest of your day.
P.S. The motor bike story I promised you
I had been in a whopping temper with my husband – he’d left a couple of gates open and the neighbors cows were all over the place and they could have got out on the road. I was going too fast on the farm four wheeler bike, when I hit a big hole that I couldn’t see in the grass. The image in my mind is like a bloody stunt bike photo – the bike was all four wheels off the ground and tipped so far over on one side that I actually had the thought cross my mind ” ahhh that’s how these bikes kill you”, just before I was flung off it (thank you God!). I was a hair’s breadth from killing myself.
After I was flung out – that’s a good description, it was like being launched like a rocket with no control over it – the bike dropped back onto 4 wheels and rolled on without me.
This accident has been a monumental “Don’t argue with God” thing – that expression that my friend Steve so ably coined. That’s when we get to see the good that comes from something without waiting for years later to do that in hindsight. 🙂 It’s where we get to soak up and appreciate and actually develop the good things that are coming out of something that is seemingly crappy. It’s about noticing the opportunity amongst the seeming crappy circumstances.
There’s a great lesson in Oliver’s Diaries on this “Don’t argue with God” subject. I wish you could hear the humor in my voice as I call it that. Click here for a look at that lesson. I think the principles it demonstrates will be just as interesting for non horse people too.
And this motor bike accident was one of those things that looked crappy and even though I could barely sit for weeks and weeks, it had a great big silver lining about understanding rage among a heap of other things.
And understanding my rage and it’s connection with the reptilian brain and how we can change that is a very big deal.
So this was my insight:
Rage is not an emotion – it’s a DISCONNECT. There’s nobody home anymore.
So you can’t understand rage, you can’t feel it, you can’t stroke it, you can’t manage it, you can’t do anything with it because in its disconnection, it is in essence uncontrollable. There’s no point in blaming or judging ourselves or anybody else, because there’s nobody home.
What we CAN do though, is find the root cause of the disconnect in the first place. And there’s many ways of doing that and today’s Quiet Mind is one of those ways. 🙂
And a lovely mantra from Deva Premal to extend your time in your Quiet Mind
Om Ram Ramaya – this mantra activates balance, strength and healing in the body. The sound Ram brings powerful balancing and healing qualities directly into your physical body, mind and emotions. Notice what happens in your breathing as you stay with them in the chant out loud.
Om ram ramaya
Om ram ramaya Svaha