I have long been fascinated by my relationship with anger and our cultural beliefs surrounding the expression of anger. What follows is a story about my relationship and experience with anger on my journey of personal growth and a recent unexpected experience of releasing some anger. In January 2021, I had an intuitive/channeled reading and was told by the channeler that I would at some point have an experience where I would have a release of anger and I would then be excited to do more anger release work. This came up as work I would need to do in relation to a question I had about my long-time struggle with weight. When I get awareness about something like this, I usually jump into action fairly quickly. So when I moved to Vernon in February I had an expectation/hope that I would be able to do this work at the local Men’s circle. I believe that I even vocalized this intention at the first circle I attended. As a side note, when living in Squamish I facilitated the Men’s group there for 7 years and struggled to find an opportunity to do meaningful anger work. Partially due to the inability to find a suitable location to do that type of work and what I believe is an unconscious resistance to doing so.
A few years ago I attended a next-level training with the Mankind Project, at a certain point in the weekend everyone at the same time was guided to do an anger release process. At the time, my mind gave me a clear “no, you don’t need to do this”. What I realize now is that I didn’t feel safe to do this work in that environment and it didn’t feel like my timeline and felt forced. I also realized that I had relegated anger into the shadows. The topic of anger has come up in Men’s circles frequently over the years and it was always challenging to find a place where we could actually release some anger. We even talked about hiking into the woods just so we could scream and release our anger.
In my first relationship, I had an unhealthy relationship with anger and there was a lot of yelling at each other. After my divorce, I would also get verbally angry with my kids. I knew that this was not a healthy expression of anger and I was not happy about the impact it was having on those around me. But this is how anger was modeled to me as a child and I did not know any better. At some point, I must have swung the pendulum to the other side and decided to simply not be angry. In other relationships, I made a conscious effort to not get angry and despite this, I was frequently told that I was being experienced as angry. I found this to be very confusing and disheartening.
If you were to ask most people that have known me over the last 7+ years they would probably say that they couldn’t imagine me being angry. This is because I am usually so calm, patient and kind. This assessment is true. For the most part, I feel I have been able to work with and manage my anger appropriately and situationally. However, I also had suppressed my anger.
“We are advised to tell the other person that we are angry, that we suffer. “Darling, I suffer, I’m angry, and I want you to know it.” Then if you are a good practitioner, you also add, “I’m doing my best to take care of my anger.” And you can conclude with the third sentence, “Please, do help me,” ― Thich Nhat Hanh Anger
When I talk to / teach others about their anger I usually share the following. (Side note: it’s always easier to help others than it is to help ourselves) I share this definition of healthy vs. unhealthy anger that I came across. When we are angry and the energetic impact affects others. This is to say that the anger is directed outwards and others are the intended or unintended recipients, this could be called “Aggressive Anger”. On the flip side of this description, if you were to be rooted and grounded in yourself and confidently and powerfully speak your truth. This is to say that the energy of your exchange is that your emotion is travelling straight down into the earth instead of outward to others. This could be called “Assertive Anger”. I would also throw in the fact that if you rearrange the letters in the word anger you can end up with the word range as an invitation to expand your range of anger and find balance. That if we were to put anger on a range you would have rage on one side and suppression on the other side and healthy anger in the middle.
All of this sets the stage for what occurred to me earlier this week. I found myself attending the local Men’s circle and during the circle, I became incrementally and increasingly frustrated at what was transpiring. I won’t share details to preserve the confidentiality and sacredness of the circle but I will share my experience. I had over time created a story that I wasn’t safe to do my work in this circle and it wasn’t possible to do anger work, which made me frustrated. So I projected this story onto the circle. In the circle this week when I got the chance to share my frustrations I didn’t realize just how angry I actually was. When my turn came I started to share my story and then all of a sudden I stood up and just began to yell and scream and share my rage. I even turned around, picked up my chair and threw it down on the floor. I think some of the Men may have been quite surprised at this because I am always so calm, cool and collected. After I settled down I felt a wash of shame and guilt pour over me. This shifted to feeling very supported, nurtured and accepted by the Men. It was affirmed that it was and is safe for me to share my anger and work with it in the circle. As you can imagine this was very healing for me on a deep level. I now laugh at how I had set myself up to have this organic release of anger that was predicted back in January. Now that I have had this experience I do look forward to more anger release work. Surprisingly, I felt euphoria and joy afterwards which I believe are emotions that can be repressed by our anger.
It is my hope, that you may relate to my story and experiences and that it is somehow helpful and perhaps even gives you permission to find a place to work with your anger. It is my hope that as a culture we can be open to discovering and embracing that there is a healthy balanced version of anger that can be a force of creation rather than a force of destruction which we have experienced far too often.
Please share your stories and your journey with anger in the comments.