If you asked me “what makes you angry?” a few years ago, I would have replied with “not much!”
It was a subtle, warm afternoon in Bali. I was sitting in a room in a writing retreat and an earthquake of emotion unravelled, quietly through my veins. The topic of the retreat was re-writing your story and learning about your defence mechanisms. I was a speaker for the event, but I had so much to learn and rewriting of my own story.
It has taken me a year and a half to truly own that moment in that room, overseas on a humid October afternoon. I needed to be honest with myself. It was a learning of owning my own story and truly allowing myself to say: I actually feel angry all the time.
The frustration I feel bubbling just below the surface, is a deep sense of resentment for always wanting to do the right thing and bitterness that tastes stark, when my boundaries are crossed constantly.
I do feel angry.
I hate it when…
Being able to say those words out loud has taken months of journaling, reading, talking and honesty. The word hatred had been completely repressed in my life, to the point I could honestly say I don’t hate anyone. I allowed people to cross boundaries, I let people off, not wanting to cause a fuss and I felt frustrated all the time.
The thing is about anger or insert whatever big emotion that you try to suppress or dissolve, unless we are honest enough to ourselves to actually let that emotion surface, it will grow and fester, like a wound uncared for, creating an infection of sorts.
Feeling anger is not bad, it’s what we learn to do with it, that is the place where we cause harm. Suppressing anger, may not harm others, but it indeed harms .
I was recently flying for the first time in over a year and contextually with a global pandemic, it felt even more privileged than it usually does. There is something about flying that opens my heart up to reflection and the power of pressing reset. It is very rare when I am flying on a plane, that I don’t write and this last trip was no different.
There is something about being far away from my everyday circumstances that opens up perspective like nothing else. After a year like 2020 when so much changed and there were emotions bubbling under the surface, I pulled out a pencil and wrote ferociously.
And suddenly then my old hide and seek friend, appeared on my page. Anger, hatred, frustration and fear danced across the page extravagantly. Something happened, that is hard to explain, but a waterfall of anger fell out onto the page. I found myself writing over and over and over and over, so that the page became a scribble of words, that no one could read. A place of deep healing and therapy their in that cocoon in the sky.
A piece of paper that became a bunch of scribbles that allowed my fury to flow, ended in a pile of tears and the knowledge in clear application in front of me, that writing truly does heal. As we take the time to empty ourselves of the big emotions, that we are trained to hold quiet within, there was a realisation that being angry is not a sin. Truly its the way that we use that emotion to bring colour, honesty and life, processing that emotion we are told that is bad.
When was the last time you felt angry?
What did you do with that emotion?
We don’t need to be in an airplane seat to do this exercise for insight and healing, all we need is a piece of paper, some quiet and privacy, then write to allow all of your emotions to have the space they require. In this season of Autumn, here in Australia, I am learning to allow myself to feel those big emotions and to process them in ways that release their control and bring change.
Reminding myself that the stories from my childhood that tell me “Stop crying, you are too loud or children should be seen and not heard” create narratives that hold emotions trapped beneath the surface. Relearning the narratives of not being enough and allowing people to overstep boundaries, to please people and keep the peace, in the end will always bring pain.
A quick list of ways that you can allow your anger to be seen, felt and listened to, without shouting:
- Allow yourself to acknowledge the emotion. (maybe through a conversation, journaling or deep breaths asking for insight).
- Remind yourself that it is okay to feel what you are feeling.
- Identify why you are feeling that emotion and what triggered it.
As you take the time to acknowledge, remind yourself it is okay and identify why you are feeling this emotion, insight will be present and change will begin to occur.
Anger is not bad. Holding space for that feeling and allowing it to teach you may be the greatest lesson you give yourself this year. Learning why this emotion is holding us captive and freedom awaits us on the other side.