The Burning Flames of Anger & How to (Safely) Unleash It
One damp and grey morning, I found myself at our local gym exercising next to a pretty 20-something year old. Her body-hugging workout clothes perfectly
showcased her slim physique. Her plump lips were perfectly glossed. But on this day, her perfect appearance would not stay perfect.
Similar to a high-performance motorcycle that goes from a stand still to ultra fast in seconds, this girl went from perfectly perfect to completely undone within a flash. At first, she pushed the machine’s buttons with slight annoyance, attempting to program it to her liking. Unsuccessful, she quickly became agitated and frantic. Finally, she unraveled completely and slipped into a total meltdown, shouting profanities at the unresponsive hunk of plastic. In the end, she abandoned the machine and stomped up to an indifferent employee to announce that she was leaving for a “better fitness centre”.
This over-the-top, somewhat comical event got me thinking about anger and how we express it. Some of us are volatile loose canons that zap anger at anyone or anything within arm’s reach. A hyper-active volcano that blows without warning, flinging burning lava at unlucky folks nearby. And then there are some of us who simmer about something that pissed us off, allowing it to ruin our day, devour our week or even poison our entire month.
On the contrary, some of us hold onto our anger, diligently shoving it down within us. Our anger accumulates like an overflowing basement full of unwanted junk. Stored anger, resentment, jealousy and so forth can make us emotionally unwell and physically ill.
A healthy expression of anger
Anger itself isn’t bad. It is an energy, a human emotion, that is meant to move through you. My seven-year old daughter practices a healthy way to release anger. When she is mad, she clenches her little fists and growls. Her body shakes as she repeats “I am so mad; I am so mad”. The waves of anger are almost visible in the air around her. One day, her clenched growl might grow into a fierce roar!
Up until recently, I thought I had a healthy relationship with anger. Then, one day while my husband was venting about something, I abruptly cut him off. Annoyed that I had shut him down, my husband commented that I was like a little bird that holds all of her anger in. His words flew into my heart and mind, prompting me to take an honest look at my relationship with anger.
I discovered that I had been preventing myself from truly expressing anger. If someone upset me, I would give myself a few short minutes to vent, before quickly boarding the fast train into guilt. I would then attempt to escape my guilt by launching myself into compassion and understanding. While I busily justified the person’s behaviour (maybe they were stressed or feeling unheard), I denied myself permission to feel and release the anger that was within me.
With my eyes closed, I brought my awareness into my solar plexus. By doing so, I quickly became aware that as a little girl I learned that expressing anger was bad (and so was complaining and whining). My parents did not intentionally teach me that this behaviour was wrong. Instead, I developed this belief as a reaction to the circumstances at the time. When I was young, my mom experienced some tough years when she was emotionally unwell. Little me determined that my mom needed me to be strong…and good. I desperately wanted to help my mom feel better so I held my anger.
With this awareness, I used the following technique to blast open the gates to releasing my stored anger. You may feel inspired to try it out. Kneel in front of a couch or a bed. Either rest your eyes closed or keep them open, whichever is more comfortable. Bring to mind the culprit who infuriated you. Imagine this person in front of you. Allow the burning flames of anger to grow. Breathe deep and feel into the intense energy. Now let it out like a fire-breathing dragon.
Say whatever pops into your mind. Don’t hold back. This is no time to be polite or diplomatic. No filters. No censors. No playing nice. Let the F-bombs fly! Here is an example: “You hurt me. You selfish, ignorant #&**#!! How dare you treat me like that. You are a worthless, stupid #&*@!”
Now release this pent-up energy by getting physical. Slam the couch with your hands or a pillow. Hit it with force. Give yourself full permission to allow the energy to move and be released…no matter what it looks or sounds like.
When you feel the time is right, ask yourself “Who else am I angry with?”. You might be surprised with the person who pops into your mind. Repeat the above process. In my personal experience, sadness quickly follows anger. Be prepared with tissues. You might find yourself sobbing like a wounded child. Let it all out. This is your healing.
Triggers are gifts for our healing
In addition to practicing a healthy expression of anger, it is important to be aware of the situations or relationships that trigger us to feel angry. Triggers are blessings. They are gifts that are meant for our healing. Until we decide to view our triggers as opportunities to learn and heal, we can expect to be triggered in a similar way again and again and again.
Take the time to sit in quiet with eyes closed. Say a prayer, asking Infinite Spirit to: “show me what am I meant to see or know to heal”. Or “Dear Divine, please show me the real reason for my anger”. With these words, we are asking to see, feel and heal the root cause of our pain.
Be open and patient. Avoid searching. Allow an image, a knowing or a memory to present itself. A memory of an event from childhood or youth might pop up. Some people may even witness an image from a past life. If nothing happens, that is ok too. Communicating with Spirit may take practice.
By allowing our triggers to guide us, we are able to open ourselves to healing. If we create space to look within, our triggers will lead us to our stored memories and buried emotions. When we allow ourselves to feel that which is within us, we set ourselves free to experience a life full of peace and joy. Anger (like other emotions, such as guilt, sadness, etc.), is an energy that is meant to move. Feel it, honour it and let it go.
So…what is your relationship with anger? Do you zap it at anyone or anything (like the girl at the gym)? Do you banish it to the basement? Do you blame others for how you feel? Or do you simmer in your pissed off-ness for days or weeks?
Awareness is the essential first step to healing and experiencing a lighter, freer and more peaceful life.
To read Rachel’s bio, please click here.