Learning to love anger.
According to some theories, human beings have five emotions: anger, fear, grief, love, and joy.
For years, I had no relationship with my anger. I was able to justify my other human emotions such as love and joy. I regarded these two as lovely, pleasant emotions to feel.
Eventually, I was able to begin to accept my grief and fear too, although they were less beautiful and fun than love and joy. I regarded grief as another layer of expression of love, and fear as an emotion fairly passive and non-threatening to anyone around me.
As a committed yogi and devout spiritual practitioner, I saw anger as an emotion that was reactive and unevolved, with low vibration. I saw it as invasive to those around me. I didn’t see it as a docile emotion like fear. I was convinced that I was too even-minded, non-reactive, and grounded in my meditative mindfulness to feel anger; that anger would simply have been childish to feel.
What happens when we disregard a human emotion from our life? Well, we do not become immune to it, and we do not become free from it. It’s not because we reject it that it will reject us. In fact, it will not go away. Actually, ironically, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the opposite happens: we will end up holding onto anger in other extremely detrimental ways. This is what happened to me.
My unexpressed and rejected anger began to consume my body. I had years of tension caused by headaches from a neck that could not relax, a clenched jaw that until today required a mouth-guard at night, a contraction of my inner thighs, and a full body and mind rigidity that consumed me. As I refused to embody my anger, my anger actually embodied me. It needed to find a way to come out, unconsciously, since I had given it no conscious path through.
I built up a dark film around me that hung like thick smoke exhaust in my energetic field—a sticky, tar-like substance that I never addressed, but silently suffocated in. I would, however, allow myself to feel grief, and cry. I could experience love tenderly, fear humbly, and be joyous childishly. But I would never let my anger come through in any sort of conscious expression.
With no experience of this emotion before, I was deeply scared of it. I imagined, in detail, the monster it might turn me into.
What would it look like? How would I react? Would I be stuck in a spiral of anger and gut-wrenching rage forever? Would I kill someone? Would I hurt myself?
Until one fateful day when I was prompted by my persistent therapist who didn’t buy my bullsh*t of “not being angry.” She baited me, taunted me, and pushed me until I surrendered so utterly fearfully. I resigned myself.
Fine. I guess I will ruin my life, right now. I guess I will see what it’s like to get angry. I guess I will invite this reactive, childish, terrible emotion into my life. I guess I’ll undo my spiritual work, ruin my composure, get stuck in the trenches of abusive anger forever, and I will most likely die.
A part of me was ready. I accepted what I thought would be my fate. And I let myself get angry. I mean really angry.
My divine anger rose like a phoenix from the ashes with a wingspan of 10 feet. I was exquisitely angry. I screamed the most guttural scream a human can produce all the way from the depths of my womb. I slammed my fists into a stack of pillows and onto the earth. I fought, and fought, and fought for my life. I spewed hot spit like a raging bull taunted in a fight. I allowed my body to writhe, shake, move, and beat. It was, as if in 20 minutes, I reclaimed the anger that was never fully expressed in my life: the face of the person who had wronged me, the fake smiles I had put on to not be a bother, the composure I had held in so desperately to be seen as a good girl in the eyes of our abusive, sexist society. It all came flooding forward and took warranted angry shape, voice, and expression through my body—their previous prison.
Finally exhausted, I collapsed in a heap. My heart was beating so fast that I thought it would burst all the way into my head. I couldn’t catch my breath. I felt the weight of my body on the earth. I lay there panting and absolutely spent. It was like the greatest orgasm. And I felt something new. I felt a stillness and a quiet softness. And there is one thing I didn’t feel: the layer of suffocating anger under which I used to live every moment.
Suddenly, the clenching was gone and my neck loosened. My thighs stopped crushing into one another and my teeth had space between the top and the bottom row as my jaw softened. As I caught my breath, my heart slowed down and returned to normal. I felt more embodied than ever. I felt free. I felt my love in a deeper, richer way. My joy coursed through me more abundantly, sweetly, and uninhibitedly. I was no longer rejecting one of my human emotions. I was full.
My anger was exquisite, passionate, determined, and fiery. My anger was grounded in love. Contrary to the story I told myself before, my anger was almost always spiritual. It was embodying. It was a like the voice of justice.
All my anger ever wanted was a place to free its cresting wave of expression in the center of its home. It wanted a voice through which to be shared, and a heart through which to be heard. It wanted a right to be, and a right to take up space. It wanted to be accepted.
My anger was also liberating. I thought that expressing it would keep me stuck in that dark, violent, scary, and suffocating place. But the opposite was actually true. It needed to be expressed fully in order to be freed. And by freeing my anger, I actually freed myself.
We need to reexamine our emotions: our love, our joy, our fear, our grief, and especially our anger. We can ask ourselves:
What is my relationship with them? How do I allow them to flush through me to release? Do I hold them so aggressively at bay that they end up taking over my every action? Do I give myself the emotional freedom to explore the depths of my anger?
Anger is not a non-spiritual emotion. It is not childish, careless, or reckless. Yet, the irony is that it can become those things if it is not given enough space to express itself, and thus release. It is a quite warranted emotion that deserves our time.
I am not advocating aggression. I am advocating we explore the safe ways to express our anger so we don’t suffer or cause suffering to those around us. If listened to, anger is an absolutely stunning, freeing, passionate, loving, and inspiring emotion.
We should give it the right to be in our lives so that we can be freer.
Author: Bry Kring
Image: Liza23q/ Deviantart
Editor: Angel Lebailly
Copy & social editor: Khara-Jade Warren