Holding Space for Difficult Emotions: Managing & Releasing Anger
Life can be unfair.
It’s important to be realistic about this and to know that when unfairness strikes, our human reaction will be to feel frustrated, sad, bitter, abandoned, alone, disappointed and so many other feelings we’re capable of going through.
But first, we’ll get angry.
Anger is the first emotion we experience when something we deem wrong happens to us, when our expectations aren’t met: someone wakes us up from a comfy sleep too early; the last train of the day gets canceled when someone we love was on the other side, waiting; someone hurts us emotionally; we don’t get to where we wanted at work, in our work out routine, in the tasks we needed to carry out during a given day… There are so many reasons we can get angry.
Why am I telling you this, you might ask; well, it’s simple, because we forget. We forget that it’s easy to be angry because life doesn’t go according to our expectations, following the set of rules we’re providing her. Life is a bit like Facebook or Instagram algorithms, they don’t really care about their users’ needs or expectations (except that humans aren’t in control of Life, a bigger and stronger force we haven’t managed to understand yet is, is it God or destiny or the Universe, or a puppet maker, we don’t know. Anyways).
And when anger strikes, we can’t think, and thinking straight is a concept we suddenly forget even exists. We forget that it’s anger we’re feeling. We forget that our urge to punch something, to shout at the whole world, to throw things at the one who hurt us, is temporary.
Remember this: anger is temporary
And because we forget that anger is temporary, our reaction would be to bottle it up, because the bits of humanness we have in us (or society) tell us we can’t go around throwing punches, hurting people back, shouting at the world. So what do we do? We tend to keep it in.
And that’s a problem because...
But how do we ‘let it flow’? How do we let anger not be stuck?
Realizing anger has struck. Realizing there’s nothing to do that’ll help, but feeling. Sitting down and listening to the angry thoughts, the urge for angry movement, the blood pumping fast through the veins, the accelerated heartbeat.
And I know, it’s not ‘simply’ done, because it’s such a *aaaargh seù”rog^ijpso°rtig* (that’s what you might say when you’re angry and reading some stupid person who knows nothing about yourself or your situation and why the hell are you even reading *dflg@/.:;hse¨rpgi* I’m so angry! < this would be me when people try to tell me to calm down and ‘sit down with my anger’).
So how do you 'simply' feel it?
• Acknowledging it's there is the first step. If you know anger is there, you'll be able to stop from a acting on it.
• Letting it take the space it needs. This might mean talking about it, writing about it.
• Asking yourself if anything can help you go through it. Maybe that's going for a run, dancing to a hard rock song, sighing out loud - you know better than anyone what shape or form the release needs to take.
And I’ll leave you with that: if anger isn’t felt, it turns into hate.
And hate is ugly because it doesn’t go away once anger has left our bodies. Hate stays and makes us do stupid things (like hurt people, ourselves, passively or very aggressively), and it blurs our vision, our sense of compassion, for ourselves first, and then others. It blocks opportunities for healing. It blocks space for what we need (a bit like a garbage truck in your small street at 7.30am when you need to go to work).
Do we want that?
Resources to use meditation to release anger:
- Learn to Listen to Your Emotions from Yoga Journal
- Stop quieting the mind, start questioning: The Practice of Inquiry from Yoga Journal
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