When was the last time you got really angry?
Just what is it that makes you angry?
Small things like stubbing your toe? Or deeper things, certain people, or moments in your past?
How do you feel about anger?
Likely, you have a memory tied to anger that makes it feel like it’s not okay to express. I’ve found that many women feel as if they need to “put on a happy face” and say everything is okay, even when things are really bubbling up inside of them.
The other day, for example, I dropped a take-away container, and all of the food I had planned to eat was suddenly on the floor. Of course, I was angry (and hungry), but seeking acceptance, or to avoid rejection from my husband, I said, “It’s okay. I’ll just share.”
It’s little moments like that, that add up to the bubbling repressed anger inside of us—no matter how trivial it seems in the moment.
Repressed anger might be holding you back from healing if:
>> You feel like you need to be busy all the time (stillness is too difficult)
>> You rarely spend time without electronics
>> You think you have to always appear positive
>> You’ve put up a “happy face barrier”
>> You feel like you need to please everyone
>> You’re afraid of expressing emotions (especially anger)
This is how we change our old habits and patterns around anger:
The first step is recognizing the above symptoms in yourself.
We need to become aware of our particular brand of avoidance.
Busyness is a sign of avoidance because you know you’re going to have to face your own thoughts and really see what you’re going through. But I’m not asking you to stop everything you’re doing. Just to slow down enough to feel your feelings. Even 30 to 90 seconds of focused breathing helps.
Repressed anger may also look like people-pleasing, or striving to keep everyone around you happy, even when you’re not. This is avoidant in the way that so many of us seek to focus on others in order to look anywhere but at all of our own emotions. But you know what, if you did allow yourself to feel everything, you’d be done with trying to make everyone else happy.
It may surprise you to see that some of the “busy” activities you keep aren’t necessarily important, or that you’ve been trying desperately to keep everyone around you happy.
Next, you have to allow yourself to get upset.
Especially if you’re always saying things like, “Oh, it’s okay. Everything is fine” whenever something makes you really mad.
You may actually need to carve out some time for yourself alone to feel safe in letting the anger out. Ask yourself how you really feel in this moment. No one can hear you. So, what’s really going on? Sit with all the feelings.
You may begin to feel a range of other emotions you’ve been avoiding too, but they are just coming up to pass through. Try naming the sensation with a color and focusing presently for as long as you can with the feeling, separate from the story.
Then figure out where this avoidance comes from.
Often our upbringing is a big part of it.
>> What messages about emotions did you hear when you were a child?
>> Did your parents tell you to “suck it up,” or not to cry?
>> Did you carry any of these ideas with you into adulthood?
Often, we can unconsciously avoid being like our parents if we have seen them be angry, especially if their anger scared us as a child. As a result, we now create a push and pull within us and we refuse to see that part of ourselves. It becomes a shadow. It’s always there on the periphery, and now we’ve become skilled at avoiding it.
Everyone’s upbringing has shaped who they are. But, it’s okay to change your mind and pivot in a different direction. It’s okay to realize something needs to change. It’s the process of life.
When you’re ready to start healing and to befriend your anger, start with your own inner world.
Then, as you become more comfortable, work backward into your ancestry. Look at the outdated beliefs and stories that were handed down, then heal yourself by changing them.
When you can examine these beliefs without judgment, you’ll see where they came from, and then you can decide whether you want them to still be part of your life.
Observe your thoughts, then look at the old beliefs with compassion and love. Remove judgment. You don’t need to bring old beliefs or stories forward into your future life (and your children’s lives) if you don’t want to.
The ultimate benefit of all this work is feeling the true, full expression of unadulterated joy. You can’t experience true joy without allowing yourself to feel all the other feelings—including joy’s polar opposite, anger.
Courageously and honestly claim your new truth through experiencing and embracing your wide range of emotions. They are all part of the human experience, and in allowing them to flow, we experience the joy of truly living.