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April 8, 2017

How to Befriend our Anger & Use it for Good.

When I feel angry, I just wanna feel it.

I wanna be with it. I want to talk about it, to vent, to speak rapidly, loudly, and say whatever comes to my mind. I don’t want to sensor it. I don’t want to dumb it down. I don’t what to put a little apron or ruffled dress on it. And I certainly don’t want to be fixed or helped.

It took me years to reach this point, but now I just want to have my wild, free, unapologetic expression of anger for a moment—before channeling it in a way that can be of benefit to the world.

“Anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” ~ Maya Angelou

The biggest problem with feeling our anger, however, is that someone may get hurt. If I am not creating a safe container for my venting or expression of anger, there can be consequences. I can hurt myself or someone else. The key is to stay intentional about it, which we can do by befriending our anger and choosing to harness and direct its power.

This skill for handling our anger and channeling it for good takes practice and time. For years, I kept my anger at bay with an eating disorder, so it took me some time to learn how to appreciate my anger, not fear it, and open to the wisdom it has for me.

“Emotional maturity occurs when we can express our true feelings, without need for reciprocation, validation, appreciation, or trepidation. Our feelings become companions and not our enemies.” ~ L.A. Askew

This is why I love being a Shadow Work® facilitator and creating “ritual space” for myself and others. A ritual space is a metaphor for creating consensus and clear guidelines for doing deep emotional work. In a Shadow Work® environment, we teach how to explore inner landscapes and powerful emotions without any real life consequences. In a ritual container, we can explore anger, shame, deep grief, other areas of “stuckness” in order to find the gold within these repressed energies. Doing so also allows us to free up our psyche’s resources that have been used to keep those parts of ourselves hidden, repressed, and denied.

“When sleeping women wake, mountains move.” ~ Chinese Proverb

Anger has power. It is a vital instinctual feeling and when we welcome it, breathe with it, feel it and follow it in our bodies, we can experience pure alignment of body, mind, emotion, and spirit. After all, our issues live in our tissues.

Alternatively, if we ignore our anger and try really hard to pretend it’s not there, well, we have little to no choice about what to do with it. Ignoring it too long causes it to grow and take over, like a weed. As a result, we often engage in other addictive behaviors to keep it from festering, which can then lead to depression or eruptions of our repressed anger seemingly by accident. In these cases, the anger maintains control over us, and we give up our power to choose how to respond to feeling.

Here are actions to take when you notice anger is rumbling inside of you:

1. Breathe and be with the anger. Consider it your friend. What is the message it is bringing to you that it wants you to hear? Your friend wants to get your attention for a reason—it’s a life-force energy.

2. Track anger in your body and channel its power. What does it want to do? Let this vital energy of anger fuel some productive projects that have been ignored. Go for a walk or run. Clean out the closet or garage. Feel it. Follow it. Finish it. Let yourself become more comfortable with its vitality.

3. Say the words, “I feel angry.” Just be with that for a moment. Don’t justify it. Don’t push it down. Don’t shame yourself or anyone else. Don’t dress it up, justify it, or cover it with a quick nicety. Just be with the wild vibration of your anger. This is your power, your life force to use as you choose. Breathe into it and feel it’s vigor.

4. Set a boundary. The gift of anger is strength. Go inside with your anger and see where in your life you might need to say “no” or “I love you, but this behavior is hurting me”—or whatever you need to speak to another to care for yourself. You may have to walk through fear—a close companion of anger— and bypass the shame that tells you it’s not nice, helpful or yoga-like to be angry. Use your voice to communicate what your body, spirit, and soul are nudging you to speak.

Anger is a natural instinct, part of our wild self. It activates our ability to love and protect ourselves and those we love. It helps us to stand for our highest values of justice.

How will you use your anger to be of service today?

“Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species. ” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes, “Women Who Run with the Wolves”

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Author: Sally Bartolameolli

Image: With permission from Olga Galindo

Editor: Callie Rushton

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