As well as being a natural response to threat, anger is a human emotion which everyone experiences from time to time. It is an emotional reaction which we do not want to blindly act out on. When anger is more on the reactive side, it is important to learn how to calm it with breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, meditation, spending time with the natural world, talking to friend, or any form of nurturing self care so that we do not cause harm to others or ourselves. There are times, however, when anger is an authentic response to something we know is not right and action is called for. There may be an underlying message which we need to hear and understand. Sometimes it is obvious why we are angry, and sometimes not.
Anger can result from the sense of not feeling seen, heard and understood - not feeling loved, which can affect our sense of self worth. When this happens, it is a good idea to reflect on whether or not we have clearly expressed ourselves. We might not be angry for the reason we think. Due to unresolved past issues and traumas, we can unconsciously carry anger for many years. If, with a compassionate stance we can listen deeply to ourselves, we will have a better idea of what's really going on. Expressing what we deeply feel is difficult for most of us.
Anger can also point to a boundary violation whether by another or by ourselves. It points to an objection, a “no!”, to something or someone; and underneath the “no!” will be a “yes” to a greater degree of self-honour. Therefore, there is often integrity hidden in our anger that has not been heard, understood, expressed or honoured, at least not by ourselves, and the ongoing suppression of our integrity results in self-betrayal which both leads to and perpetuates angry feelings.
But how do we express our integrity and stay in good relationships with others, especially when we feel it might upset them? This is not easy. Too often, many try to do the “right thing” or try to please others in order to be liked or to not upset the status quo while ignoring their own integrity. Can we trust that our integrity is both honouring of ourselves and others? The wisdom of Shakespeare, ‘to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man,' reveals that there is power in our integrity, power for authenticity and therefore power for more genuine relationships which leads to connection; but left buried and unexpressed, both leads to, and becomes confused with anger. Then through the fear of anger, the gift of connection is withheld. If we are afraid of our anger, we become afraid of our own power and integrity because it will often first appear as anger. This happens when anger is buried and becomes unconscious. We need to learn to differentiate the two.
If we listen with care, attentiveness, receptivity and acceptance, there will be a jewel hidden in our anger. As with all emotions, anger is energy and holds the potential for embodied transformation.
If you are struggling with anger or would like more information on how I work visit putneycounsellinandpsychotherapy.co.uk
or call 020 8780 9449. Or simply use the contact form on my website. or email directly to email@example.com
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