Often when we think about leading healthier lifestyles, we tend to think that anger, and other emotions like sadness or frustration, that are often deemed “negative”, should never be expressed, much less acknowledged. That in order for you to achieve your own personal state of true heightened spiritual awareness, you can’t let off some steam. There are many belief systems out there, that have their own view of how emotions should be dealt/not dealt with. But, what it comes down to is honoring yourself.
Take anger, for instance. Anger is healthy. It creates boundaries, it announces that you are acknowledging your self worth, your passion, and the flow of anger is up and out. It is yang in nature (in the yin/yang scheme of things), and therefore, is just part of life. Because we also have other times when we are yin, and would prefer to regather our energy at home or in stillness. And, that is necessary, too. Anger can ignite creativity, and oftentimes it makes people think. It can also create change, and can instill passion for people to stand up in what they believe in, especially when it comes to oppression in its various forms. This is when the ignition of passion is necessary for awareness and change.
Also, there is great power in understanding that being focused on yourself is not a selfish act. In fact, in certain circles, this is called being fierce. Be fierce!
The only time anger can become unhealthy is when the issue at hand becomes an obsessive thought that negatively effects the rest of your life. I can’t tell you how many times patients come into my treatment room, and express how guilty they feel about their anger.
One patient of mine, a true New Yorker (or should I say, East Coaster), who is very comfortable with expressing her needs in very clear ways, had to rent a car when she was visiting Los Angeles. When the rental agent continuously ignored her specific rental request, even though it was an available option, she clearly stated what she needed in a more assertive tone. Inside she was starting to bubble. The representative could tell, by her subdued intensity, that he needed to address her request at that time. He told her, “You are an intense woman!” My patient felt slightly bad by the fact that she was angered during that moment, and that the representative made that comment. She’d also considered that perhaps there was a difference in the East Coast/West Coast approach of addressing things. But, that feeling had both entered and left within the same moment. It is no coincidence that, even though she can have the ability to step things up a notch, that she did not build up any imbalance in her body, because she let it out, and let it go. Done.
When anger is expressed, let out, and then let go, it is productive. We are all human, we all have triggers we are working on, and we all need to give ourselves a break!
And just this past Monday, when I provided my services at the Audre Lorde Project’s Wellness Day (great turnout, by the way!), I saw suppressed anger as a recurring theme that day. The patients I treated were going through much personal turmoil – from betrayal by a loved one, to another just learning her tumor was cancerous, and not having adequate access to healthcare to address it. I saw a lot of trying to cope, trying to be patient, to make peace with the process. Those are important things to incorporate in healing, but they had suppressed their rage at the injustice they’d felt. When we are unable to get in touch with our anger, oftentimes, there is a hardness that overcomes us to help us adjust to the situation. In actuality, it is the tenderness of vulnerability of getting in touch with our pain that promotes the path to making better sense of it all. So, I performed acupuncture, and combined it with reiki, to help ground them and help them feel more able to access their calm. By the time I took the needles out, they’d both softened into their feelings. One allowed herself to cry more fully, and both of them expressed that they felt like they had been constricting their body muscles so much, that for the first time in a while, their bodies felt tired from finally releasing their anger from their muscles and bodies. What an honor to help create space for that!
So, next time you experience anger, just be with it, in whatever shape it takes. As long as a cleaver or blunt object is not involved, allow yourself this time to feel it, then release, and move on! Try not to be hard on yourself, and practice compassion towards yourself. It is easier said than done. But, releasing anger, like most things in life, gets easier with practice. In doing so, you will avoid your body’s natural tendency to constrict and/or store the agitation in your body, which means less physical and emotional pain for you!
3 Ways to Release Anger:
- Breathe into your navel for a count of four (with your tongue pressed against your roof of your mouth), hold breath for a count of four, and exhale through the mouth (tongue back on the floor of your mouth) for a count of eight. This resets the brain. So simple, and it works!
- May sound cliche, but punching pillows does work. Letting out a primal yell will also do wonders. If you have touchy neighbors, yell into a pillow.
- Take a nice warm shower. And when doing so, imagine the blackness of your day getting washed off your body, and going down the drain.
What are the ways you release anger?
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