I recently attended the Sounds True Self-Acceptance Summit-–and one of the most illuminating talks for me was Ruth King’s “Healing Rage.”
I’d like to say that I’m always this peaceful, happy, spiritual person—but honestly, I alternate between that and rage. Sure, some of it feels like righteous rage, the kind that all social justice warriors are familiar with toting around. But some of it is just plain, good old-fashioned anger and unforgiveness.
Anger at the family members who never paid me back. Anger at losing a job—through no fault of my own—that I was good at and enjoyed. Anger at having to start all over again in my life—something I’ve had to do as long as I can remember because of relocations and general life setbacks.
The truth is that I get pissed, no matter how much I want to be perfectly at peace all of the time.
So, there I was listening to Ruth King talk about this idea of healing rage and even retreats where rage is celebrated, and I was floored. I’m a woman who grew up in the Deep South, and the number one rule of being a woman raised in the Bible Belt is that we’re never to show anger. Not ever. Smile. Be polite. Don’t talk back. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Of course, the flip side is that we grew up saying,“Bless your heart,” a double-edged sword meant to insult under the guise of sweetness.
The idea of feeling and expressing rage goes against everything I’ve ever been taught.
The idea of feeling our rage, investigating it, and even letting it out in a way that brings about healing made me stop and reflect on my own anger—but it also got me thinking about how I can express rage and make it healing.
It’s unlikely I’ll have the opportunity to attend one of her retreats any time soon, but surely there are ways that I can find to get out my rage where I live in ways that are helpful rather than hurtful.
Actually, Ruth King says specifically that celebrating rage isn’t about catharsis. The focus is more on how women have been silenced and taught not to be angry, but allowing ourselves to express anger can actually be very healing.
So, here are a few ideas I came up with on how we can celebrate anger in our lives:
>> Visit the batting cages. When we feel anger, rather than bottling it up, we can head to the nearest batting cage to get some of the energy of that anger out.
>> Run. Running is a great way to get pent-up aggression out. It also helps our bodies produce endorphins so that we begin to feel better.
>> Play with clay. Using play-dough or clay can be a great sensory way of dealing with our anger. Smash it, hit it, or shape it into something that expresses our unique life experience.
>> Paint. We can get out our feelings using creative expression. Whether we fingerpaint or work with acrylics or water colors or any other medium, we can express our feelings.
>> Dancing. Dance is an excellent way to express ourselves, and listening to music can also be a way of getting anger that’s stuck in us back out.
>> Drumming. This is often used in shamanic healing, and it’s a therapeutic way to express feelings.
Listening to the Sounds True Summit and Ruth King helped me reflect on the underlying reasons for the anger I often feel. It helped me find acceptance for the part of myself that does get very angry—not purely for myself, but also for the world around me.
While so many of us learn to silence our anger, particularly as women growing up in this culture, it can be healing just to acknowledge its presence. Finding healthy ways of getting out our rage can make an impact in the way that we feel and how we heal.
Being angry isn’t wrong. We don’t have to be angry with ourselves for being angry or expressing ourselves. The anger we feel isn’t wrong. But, if you don’t believe me—by all means, check out King’s book on the subject, and start doing the work today to celebrate and heal your rage.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Unsplash/Erik-Jan Leusink
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis