My psyche has been marinating in anger. Why have I been “stewing” in it? As a child, I felt, although I could not articulate it, that my anger would hurt my parents. And even without the fear of harm, expression of anger was not modeled in my home. Expression of any emotion was discouraged. So what did I do with my anger? I turned it against myself. The unsaid but felt words of my mother became the words I directed towards myself. “Don’t be angry; it’s unappealing and scary. Your anger will hurt others, or will drive you to hurt others.” And in the circles I associate with now, the voices I hear say “live in the light,” “think positive,” you create your experience,” you attract what you focus on.” Many voices whisper warnings against expressing and even feeling anger. So I oblige.
Is Anger Bad?
I think I am like most people. We civilized people are expected to control our anger. We label anger as bad and joy as good. But at what price? Do we want to control to the point of repression? What are the consequences of ignored anger? What happens when we can’t even feel our anger? Obviously we don’t need anger management classes that teach us to count our breath or wait ten minutes when we feel furious. We don’t need lessons in preventing outbursts. We don’t need books or articles or therapists coaching us to stay calm when we feel murderous. We need help feeling murderous in the first place!
Why Express Anger?
Why? Because unfelt feelings do not go away, they mutate. Anger towards a mother may turn to anger towards the self, which can feel like depression. Repressed longing may become an eating disorder. Unacknowledged frustration may turn into chronic headaches. An unidentified anxiety may manifest as hives.
Let's Feel the Feelings
So what’s the solution? Not anger management classes. Maybe Anger Appreciation 101! Which could look like meditation; sitting with the feeling. Notice what happens in our bodies. Notice our thoughts. Feel the anger and then let it go. Maybe know the sadness beneath the anger.