Befriending Your Anger
Lately I’ve seen and felt anger as a theme in my work with clients. It has been an especially trying few weeks. What I’ve heard in conversations about anger is that we’re struggling to navigate our everyday lives while simultaneously trying to keep our anger hidden. There doesn’t seem to be too much room in our society for anger. You see, anger gets an unfair reputation as a “bad” emotion. It’s an emotion that evokes shame within ourselves because of what others may think of us if we’re angry. Women who are angry often get labeled bitchy or hysterical. Men who are angry are called aggressive. Out of fear of these labels or for self- preservation, we try to bottle our anger and store it in little out-of-sight pockets of our soul to fade and eventually disappear.
Unfortunately, that’s not where the story of that anger ends.
The anger we tuck away can fester, turning into hopelessness, helplessness, hatred (towards others or yourself), among many other things. In ways we’re unaware of, it affects how we treat ourselves and others. It can literally take the shape of physical pain in our body. Eventually the lingering anger we so desperately wanted to move on from becomes an uninvited source that affects who we are and how we show up in our life… if left unattended. Anger, just like every other emotion, is useful and has its purpose. Anger is natural and healthy and there are important reasons to feel angry. The purpose of anger in response to oppression, violation, hurt, betrayal, etc is to send a message to yourself (and others) that YOU MATTER. Sometimes the purpose of our anger is to let us know there are opportunities for personal growth.
So here’s my invitation to you to let your anger be…
If you’re weary, afraid, or hesitant about that invitation, it’s okay. It’s difficult to navigate the vulnerability and risks we feel we’re taking when we allow our anger to be seen. Be patient and try to meet yourself with compassion so that you can befriend your anger instead of shaming it. You can start small by using a mantra to practice being kind to yourself and your anger. Try one of these: “I’m allowed to be angry;” “I don’t know what this anger means yet and that’s okay;” “I deserve to know what my anger is trying to tell me.” Perhaps try this 10 minute mindfulness practice in the comfort of your own room to practice feeling and exploring difficult emotions, including anger.
It’s important that you find safe people and places to feel and explore your anger. Here at Mindful Counseling GR, we are honored every day to hold space for people to authentically exist, free of judgement or shame. You’re welcome to feel your anger here, to explore it, understand it, comfort it, and release it. You can reach us here to get started.
I’ll leave you with a poem from one of my favorite poets, Nayyirah Waheed:
You can not
what you want to say (who you really are)
what you should say (who you pretend to be)
your mouth was not designed to eat itself.