DEAR FRIENDS -- In my work with my psychotherapy clients and students in my classes on self-love I champion a loving and positive relationship with one's anger. This is because I have come to see that everyone -- no exceptions! -- is carrying a significant burden of suppressed and therefore self-damaging anger. However "holy" we strive to be it is far better to strive to be ourselves and stay real with our authentic feelings. That is true self-acceptance and the path to inner peace and joy.
There is an old and very wise saying: "What you lock away inside you will destroy you. But what you bring forth and express will save you." Whether we lock away our sadness, our fears, our anger -- or our love -- this truth beckons us to journey inwards in the spirit of unconditional self-acceptance..
Do you feel guilty, ashamed or afraid of your angry feelings? Have you been taught that anger is a sin, or an illusion of the ego, or a failure to forgive? All of these "spiritualized" definitions of your anger are self-defeating and lead to unhappiness in many ways. The rejection of your own positive anger leads to self-doubt, anxiety, depression and even physical illness!
The truth about anger is that it is a natural emotion designed to help you maintain positive boundaries and fight back against destructive violations of the self. For example, if you were to be physically attacked, you would require the motivation of your anger to fully defend yourself. Or if you were attacked emotionally -- if pressure was cruelly and unjustly applied to you to make you feel guilty, ashamed or afraid -- your angry feelings would help you to know that such treatment is wrong and undeserved. And that very anger would help you maintain your sense of self-respect and resist "internalizing" someone else's negative judgement of you. In this respect, your righteous anger is like an emotional "force field" designed to keep your good feelings about yourself strong and undisturbed. It is your guardian angel with a flaming sword!
There are two major problems most people suffer from regarding their anger. The first one is severely rejecting and suppressing it. There is no self- love in this, since being open-hearted toward oneself means accepting all of your feelings and using them constructively. If you suffer from chronic physical tension, depression or anxiety it is likely that you are suppressing significant amounts of anger. In my own self-discovery and in my work with my clients I have learned that guilt and shame are maintained by our anger turned against ourselves.
The other common problem people have with their angry feelings is that they use them destructively. Many people "dump" anger onto others unfairly, or use their anger to frighten and manipulate. Powerful feelings of anger, stored in our bodies from the past (usually our childhoods), are mistakenly interpreted as reactions to present-day circumstances. Thus we (unconsciously) respond to our lover, boss, friend -- or even a stranger in a traffic jam -- with the fury we have never released from earlier in life. There is no love in this either, since it hurts others, isolates us and leaves the original anger (and the wound that caused it) still trapped in our bodies.
When we lovingly accept our angry feelings, and when we come to understand that we are "acting out" anger from the unhealed past in the present day, we can experience a revolution in our relationship with ourselves and others. For example, as children many of us were not permitted to respond with our positive anger when we were spanked, or chronically made to feel that we were "bad". By expressing the anger now -- in a safe and productive forum, such as therapy -- about the violation of our physical and/or emotional integrity the fear, guilt and shame in our bodies and minds is healed and released. Depression and anxiety lift, self-confidence is restored, and our hearts open to life, inner peace and joy.
It is essential to develop a loving relationship with your anger and channel it creatively in your healing and growth. This "new wisdom" about anger can help you find inner freedom, self-acceptance and lifelong happiness. LOTS OF LOVE -- BRIAN