Anger for Angels
You bottle it up,
You hide it away,You never say,
What you meant to say.
You fit your life around other’s requirements,
Made to measure emotions,
That meet the edges of the room of your heart,
Like a well fitted carpet of forgetting.
You know that you have fire,
You damp it down,
Your eyes grow gritty with the smoke
From the embers.
The rage, scarlet, poppy, blood-red,….
Allowed to float away like a winged admiral,
Weighted down with the memories of all the times
You never stood up for yourself….
Know your own emotion,
Hold it in your hands,
Watch it flicker brightly,
As you understand.
Emotion felt, will fade,
But when you hide from it,
It never goes away.
I have a good girl tendency to bottle up any anger that I feel. Anger makes other people uncomfortable and leads to guilt and disconnection. But there is also a disconnect that comes from always hiding your true emotions.
If you want a friend who is a real friend there comes a time when you decide that they need to see more than just the good side of you. There comes a time when they need to know what you struggle with, your insecurities and your anger.
So to be a true friend to someone else you need to get comfortable with being present for the uncomfortable and messy parts of their experience, the bits that they probably don’t share on social media.
So if this is how you are a good friend to someone else how can you be a good friend to yourself?
By giving the same amount of presence and allowance of negative emotion, by witnessing your own pain and allowing it to move through you, like dark clouds across a storm filled sky.
For me this does not mean that I want to start yelling at people just for the sake of it. I am learning to become more present with my emotions, to notice them and to follow the patterns they make in my body.
I notice the emotion as though I was watching an elemental reaction in a school physics lab.
Sometimes I see the warmth of anger; sometimes I see the heart grip of fear. I watch them, acknowledge them and see how they move and change.
I use strategies learn from ACT and notice my anger. I will even say to my anger that I see it and say to myself ‘I notice my anger.’
For years I never noticed that I sometimes had anger. I just expected myself to be always the calm and capable good girl who never flapped in a crisis and never reacted to things with volcanic emotion. I believed this so fully about myself that I wasn’t acknowledging what I felt.
Resting into Anger
I learnt from Sarah Papp (a fellow Martha Beck Life Coach) about resting into anger. When you try to fight off a negative emotion the negative emotion gets stronger:
Here’s an experiment that Sarah taught me:
- Feel a negative emotion (don’t say you can’t!)
- Notice where you feel that emotion.
- Imagine resisting that emotion and notice what happens in your body.
When I notice that I am resisting the emotion and the feeling in my body caused by that emotion, the emotion gets stronger.
Now say to yourself that you are allowing yourself to rest into the emotion and see what happens. Give yourself some moments to rest into the emotion and see how the feelings change within your body.
When I do this the feeling diminishes. I am allowing my body to feel what it needs to feel and this causes it to relax.
This is something that you can do throughout the day. There is nothing to write down and it takes moments. Just notice the negative emotions that come up in your body and rest into them.
Evening Anger Pages
The second part of my growing acquaintance with anger has come out of my mentorship with the coach, Sas Petherick. As part of my work with her I am writing daily evening anger pages. I have a red moleskine and red pilot pens to write in it. Each evening I write about the things I am angry about.
I was thinking about this on the school run this morning – really who am I to be angry about things when I am so incredibly fortunate and there are so many who struggle much more? I think that however fortunate we are in life the ego mind and the sense of what is right causes anger and it is only by being aware of this and clearing through it that we can then act in the world from a clear-headed place and so in the end help those who need help and more easily connect with others.
Anger isn’t pretty, but that’s the point of it.
It shows up to tell us that there needs to be change either in our own boundaries or in how we relate to others. When we notice anger we can more ably channel it in ways that help rather than harm others.
The idea of evening pages comes from Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artist’s Way.’ She talks of morning pages. I am doing evening pages as it fits more easily into my life. I meditate in the mornings and read.
There is also an element here of rebellion. I can be such a rule follower and so doing evening pages instead of morning pages goes against the good girl tendency of following all the rules to the letter.
Rebellion and Anger
If you are a good girl have you considered what you are not allowing yourself to do that would not harm anyone?
Did you have a teenage rebellion phase?
Many good girls missed out on this and might have missed the opportunity to find work or hobbies that they loved because of it.
Suppose for example you loved Home Economics and learning about nutrition (I did!) but your parents were set of you becoming a lawyer, you might have missed out completely on exploring your passion for food and nutrition.
Part of the work I do with clients is helping them tap back into that inner knowing of when they are on the right track in their life and this is linked with allowing yourself to do things that you love, even if you feel that people in your life might disapprove of your choices.
Ask Your Anger
Once you start to become more familiar with when and how anger comes up for you, you can ask the anger what it wants to tell you and journal about this. Often the anger can be a cry for extra care, extra support or extra rest.
Anger and Children
I was part of Carrie Contey’s Evolve Programme for three years. This is a programme about conscious parenting. I think her work is wonderful as it helps you understand how to cope with your child’s anger and also helps you as a parent to cope with your parenting frustrations in a healthy way that does not impact your child negatively.
Here are some resources to help you in meeting up with your anger:
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
The Presence Process by Michael Brown – full on feel your feelings programme. I was not fully ready for this the first time I tried to stick with it. You might be.
Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff
The mind-body work and kindness community run by Abigail Steidley.
The work of Amy Pearson on approval addiction.
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