“Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purposes and in the right way – that is not easy.” Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Anger is a natural emotion. Sometimes it is genuine, sometimes it is masking something else – such as fear, hurt, avoidance within ourselves. The questions are can we identify it, express it properly and then move on?
Most of us have a difficult time appropriately expressing our anger as adults. Young children tend to be much better at this. They get angry at something, throw their little temper tantrum and then move on in their day. You don’t see a 3 year old argue with his 5 year old brother about how he never lets him play with his toys from 6 months ago. He is angry in the moment and then lets it go. You may hear “You never let me play with that!” and some crying, but, for the most part, the tantrum lasts for a short time and then they’re off playing again. I saw that all the time as a teacher. They let themselves be heard and, by the next day (at the very latest), they were perfectly fine and didn’t even really remember the incident from the day before. Heck! They had moved on 10 minutes after the tantrum!
As adults we have a harder time doing that. We hang on to those feelings of anger and hurt. But, instead of expressing the anger, we tend to stuff it down and stay silent. Some people think they express it and still hold on to it. How many of you are still angry with something that happened to you as a child? Or something from last year? Last week? Yesterday? If we allow ourselves to be angry in the moment it is much easier to let go. Not an easy task if we haven’t been taught how to do that.
I have been struggling a lot with anger lately. I’ve been doing a lot of personal work and it’s been surfacing more often. Sometimes I know exactly what it’s about, but often it will surface out of nowhere. I wasn’t taught how to properly deal with anger so I ended up stuffing it as an adult. I was taught that it was more adult and mature to stay calm and not let others know of your anger. I am passionate about things, and I get frustrated, but people don’t often know the true depth of my anger. Nor are they aware I am necessarily angry with them specifically. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “If you had only told me you were that upset! I could have done something about it!” Instead I let it fester inside and then stuff it down. What is it that keeps me from just expressing my anger?
Again, for me, it’s always been that fear. I can’t speak for others and what keeps them from expressing their anger. I have always had this fear of rejection and looking like a fool. I don’t want to come across as being a hot head, or throwing a temper tantrum, or acting like a ‘baby’. So I kept it inside. And, in the past, when I did decide to express it, the people who were around me wouldn’t stick around. I hadn’t surrounded myself with people who were okay with me being me. Things are different now. I have amazing friends who allow me to be me. So now I’ve decided it’s time to do something about that anger stuff.
This past weekend I took a trip out to Honey Do Rescue Ranch in Knapp, Wisconsin. I volunteer to do BodyTalk and animal communication with the animals. On my way out there I just knew I was to talk with one of their horses. I knew he would help me out, as animals so often do. So, I did some work on a couple of their pigs out there and then went to the pasture where Keith was hanging out. Our conversation was a long one, so I’m only going to share with you bits and pieces I think you might find helpful.
Keith: “Stand in your own. Let the anger surface so you can acknowledge it and let it go.”
Me: “I don’t know if I know what it’s about, or even who it’s about. How do I be okay with just being angry if I don’t know where to direct it?”
Keith: “It is directed for someone – you’ve just buried who it’s for, or you feel guilty for even being angry with them. People tell you that you should be grateful, or you shouldn’t be angry with them for whatever reason. That is their belief system. Feel the anger, acknowledge it and then let it go. You can get clarity later.”
Me: “I don’t feel it’s fair to just be angry when the people around me don’t deserve to have that directed at them. That’s where I’m a little stuck.”
Keith: “Your friends will understand. When the anger comes up, and it’s not from the present situation, let them know you are experiencing this anger. Give them a heads up. They get it and they’ll be patient. It’s part of who they are. When it is from the present situation, be as clear as you can, say what you need to say, and then let it go. If letting go isn’t happening, then it’s something deeper.”
Me: “Ok. True, true. So this letting go thing. I don’t know that I know how to do that. I have a hard time forgetting, even when I think I’ve let things go. A memory will just pop up of something I thought I had already let go of. It’s confusing to me. And then I get frustrated I haven’t let go of something I thought I had let go of!”
Keith: “Understandable. Letting go doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting – or forgiving. There may be a sense of peace about it, but that doesn’t always happen. Letting go means it doesn’t consume you. That memory will always be with you, and that’s ok. Letting go means it’s not running your life. You can have thoughts about it, but don’t obsess about it. Keep your focus on the now, and your future. Letting go allows you to let the good come in so you can have a richer, more fulfilling life.”
Again, this is just bits and pieces of the conversation. There was a lot more in that conversation, and, perhaps as time goes on, I will continue to tell you more about it. Keith made some excellent points and some excellent suggestions. Nobody can tell us how to feel or how to react, behave, or even think. We have to deal with our own stuff our way. But, we have to deal with it so we can move on in our lives.
I now know it’s okay to feel and express my anger. I now know, and understand, that letting go was not what I thought it was before. I am able to let go much easier since that conversation because I now have a better understanding of it. I have released a lot of the anger stuff that has been coming up because of that understanding. Sometimes it just takes a little piece of the puzzle to slip into place and the light bulb goes off. I want to let go of the anger so I can let the good stuff in.
What is something you are angry about and are holding on to? Are you willing to let it go?
– written by Kristen Scanlon (Certified BodyTalk Practitioner, Animal Communicator), owner of Talk Pawsitive and co-owner of The Healing Loft, LLC. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org