“Anger is the punishment we give ourselves for someone else’s mistake.”
– Gautama Buddha
I am going to venture a guess that most of you were likely not shown how to express anger in a healthy way. As you grew up and became more and more involved in the society at large, what did you do? Express it or stuff it? If you are female, you might even have been told that “ladies don’t act like that.” Whatever “that” is. I suppose “that” is defined as acting out one’s anger rather than stuffing it back in the box it wished to explode outwardly from. Even worse, many of us were shamed for being angry in the first place, which serves to add fuel to a flame either burning out of control or being buried deeper and deeper one…more…time.
Anger isn’t pretty; whether we ourselves are angry or we are witnessing someone else’s anger. One of the greatest dangers associated with anger is we often have no idea what the angry person may be capable of – or incapable of, like holding themselves back beyond a point of no return.
I recently wrote about the shadow – our collective shadow which is enabled by our unexplored individual shadow. As I have continued to reflect on the important work of engaging with and beginning the process of healing that shadow, it became clear that anger is an immediate doorway right into the deep places of pain – unexplored, unknown and unhealed. Yes, anger is yet another projection of something that is unknown to us, until it is triggered.
Do you stop and ask yourself what you are so angry about when you’ve been triggered and then become angry?
I know I certainly didn’t for a very long time. I was expert at burying those feelings. Today there are fewer things which make me angry, which is saying something given the goings on in my country for the last many years. And I know enough now, to pause and ask myself this question: “what is being made visible to me in this moment?” I don’t always know or find the answer right away. However, I stay in the question as I continue to reflect. Once I’m clear about what has been triggered, I’m then certain that an apology to another, if I have projected that anger onto them, is essential and a very important part of taking responsibility for my trigger, my healing process. Does this happen in rapid succession? No. Rarely.
This year has a brought us to and through many emotions – anger certainly among them. The shadow is there. We have a bag full of painful experiences that we don’t wish to ever look at or think about again. And it is the one place that holds the key to a freedom we have forgotten we ever knew. It shows us all the time what we haven’t yet stopped to consider as we continue our journeys into healing. Shaming and blaming seem to be far easier than facing ourselves. Some still believe this to be the case and choose accordingly. And like all choices, this one has consequences.
There are qualified professionals all around who can listen and hold space while we explore these dark places within. We will not make our best contribution to the collective healing and transformation of the whole of our planet, our countries or our communities and families, if we are unwilling to take this important step into ourselves.
My prayer, as we enter both dark and auspicious times in the coming weeks and months, is that we will make choices for ourselves that will create the impetus for healing, so that we can add that healing to the whole of the healing of our planet. Each one, heals one.
“Angry people want you to see how powerful they are… loving people want you to see how powerful You are.”