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The Flip Side of Anger

The Flip Side of Anger

Let's face it. We often want to hold on to our anger. I remember a new client who was so angry at her sisters and so invested in feeling that way, she strenuously resisted all my attempts to help her resolve it, turned her anger on to me, and didn't return for another appointment.

Anger can be an attractive emotion in some ways - we can feel righteous, totally justified or judgmental (and not want to give up that position). We can blame other people rather than taking responsibility. But perhaps most attractively it's a way we can get to feel powerful - granted it's a false sense of power, but preferable to feeling deep hurt, betrayal, or helplessness.

At the same time, the emotion of anger is physiologically damaging to our cells and can lead to many different health issues, especially those with an inflammatory component.  Chinese Medicine relates anger to the liver and I vividly recall a man I saw when I was a naturopath who had cancer of the liver.  I remember thinking "X is so angry he could kill" and wondering just how much his anger had to do with his illness.  

Anger also destroys our relationships with other people and causes us to say things or act in a way we are likely to regret. Distracting from the underlying pain with such behaviours as drinking excess alcohol can land us with a whole set of secondary problems.  

How you can safely resolve your anger

EFT Tapping is of inestimable value in resolving anger and I will talk about that in another article, but because anger is such a powerfully felt emotion physically, it can be beneficial to express it physically in some way.

There are 3 important rules to be heeded:

1.  Don't hurt yourself.

2.  Don't hurt anyone else, either verbally or physically.

3.  Don't hurt anything valuable - i.e. throw a box of tissues at a blank wall, not your Ming vase at the Monet.  

Here are some suggestions:

1.  Tear something up - no not the novel you've just written (which would break Rule No. 1). Newspapers or tissues work well.  I once tore all the Sydney Morning Herald's in the recycling bin into strips for 45 minutes till I was calm again.  

2.  Throw something in nature - e.g. stones into water.  I once threw rocks off a cliff with some choice swear words - but make sure there's no-one below so you don't contravene Rule No. 2. I dispatched one of my clients to go to the park next door which is on the river, and she reported feeling so much better afterwards. And being in nature is always healing.

3.  Put on some loud music, especially with a good drum beat, and do "angry dancing". 

4.  Sit in the car with the windows rolled up and scream.  But do your utmost to ensure you don't drive when you're angry.   

5.  Gather cushions and pillows on the bed and then get stuck into beating them.  (But make sure you don't end up at the physio).  

6.  Somewhat less strenuous is to get out your paper and pastels and draw your anger. This is more effective than it might sound.  Before the days of tapping, a client arrived beside herself with anger at her about to be ex-husband. I popped some paper in front of her and she seized the red pastel and scribbled furiously for ten minutes.  Then she took a deep breath, sat back and said "OK I can speak to you now."  

Better out in a safe way than suppressed inside waiting to explode. 

So what is the flip side?

Anger can be a catalyst for change.  Anger is a sign that something isn't right - and that some sort of action needs to be taken. It may be to forgive someone, to take responsibility for what you are generating, to set better boundaries, to resign your job and find a better one, to have an honest conversation and deepen a relationship. If you are angry at some form of social injustice or because the whales are being killed - then let this anger also move you to take action.  Sign a petition, volunteer, inspire others to act. 

It could also be that the action is to learn how to response more resourcefully instead of with anger. Mostly our responses are automatic and as you choose to free yourself of anger you can learn to respond to triggers in different ways.   

You can realise that anger is not who you are - it's an emotion you have bought into and have been afraid to let go of because it gave you a false sense of power.  On the other side of anger is passion, excitement and enthusiasm.  The energy you have spent either expressing or suppressing the anger can be used in creating more of what you want.  

The pay off is freedom.

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