Jennifer Hoffman: How do I deal with my anger?

Anger is an interesting emotion in our society. Having been a male-energy-dominated society for so long, for many of us anger has become an acceptable way to express ourselves. For others of us, typically those who are very sensitive and/or empathic, we are afraid of our anger. We know our anger is hurtful to whomever its directed at, and very often we don't even want to feel anger arise in us, let alone express it.

But anger left unexperienced is as harmful to us as any other negative emotion unexperienced - it only gets worse. You can be sure that someone experiencing and expressing rage didn't start out at rage, they simply never learned how to experience and express their anger in its earlier stages. It results from a feeling of powerlessness, and its expression is one way we try to get that lost power back.

That said, experiencing anger doesn't mean we need to give in to our anger through outbursts, although expressing anger is far better than holding it in and letting it fester and grow. Instead we can examine our anger and experience it without hurting or involving others, even if the examination stage comes after an outburst.

In the article below, Jennifer Hoffman talks about what anger represents and has some suggestions for how to deal with it.
Q&A: How Do I Deal With My Anger?

Published January 30, 2013

By Jennifer Hoffman

Dear Jennifer: I have been working so hard on my spiritual growth but I still struggle with anger from things that happened in the past and I get very angry with people in my life who don’t honor their commitments to me. I’m angry at the people who abuse animals and children and at anyone who takes advantage of others. I feel that this is not very spiritual behavior so I am angry with myself for being angry. Is it OK to feel anger and how do I release it so I can think of these situations without feeling so angry?

Jennifer’s Answer: We judge ourselves too harshly when we think that by being spiritual we have to also be above our normal human emotions, feelings and reactions. Anger is an emotion that reflects resistance to something. It is also a judgment that reflects an unmet expectation or belief. We feel anger towards people because we think they should act more kindly or respectfully towards us than we do. We also feel anger at situations that we think are unjust or unfair. Overall, anger is a reflection of our own fear around being powerless.

If you are angry over something from your past, was there an unmet expectation around this issue? Did someone do something that hurt you and you expected them to act differently? Were you powerless to change the situation and that made you angry? When we’re afraid, especially in situations where we feel powerless, are at risk of being hurt (in any way, physically, psychically, and emotionally), anger is how we express that fear. Just as we laugh when we’re happy, we get angry when we are afraid. Anger makes us feel powerful and allows us to take action, despite our fear. It’s a very ancient response that once served to save our lives so we could run away from dinosaurs. Now it serves a new purpose as a powerful tool for transformation. It is not ‘non-spiritual’, it’s very human. The solution to anger is to use it and not suppress, bury or ignore it. The opposite of anger is acceptance and it is healed through the energy of love (hint: love is an energy, not an emotion and you can hold the energy of love for people you are angry with).

All people get angry because they are human and have emotions and everyone has a spirit, so they are all ‘spiritual’. As a human you will feel emotional energy; what is important is what you do with that energy. If we consider anger as just an emotion and nothing else, it becomes another tool for transformation. Knowing what your anger is about, what it means to you, and where you feel powerless creates the opportunity for healing and transformation and the anger becomes the point of change.

From that point of powerlessness, you can see where you limit your own power, where you think that others limit your power, and what you expect of others by always thinking they should be in their power and highest aspects. When you see people in their highest aspects, and not as they are, you get angry with them for not living up to their potential (and all of the connections between you that this affects) and you feel powerless and helpless. But you are not seeing them as they really are and that is your issue, not theirs.

Anger shows us where we resist truth, our own and that that of others. When we see anger as another emotion, we can stop judging it as ‘bad’ and ourselves for being in our humanity. Then we can use every experience to complete our healing path instead of blocking the flow of healing through judgments. It is possible to use anger to know where we are wounded, vulnerable, feel helpless, wish someone would rescue us, martyr and victimize ourselves and then learn to express ourselves in more powerful ways. Each place where we resist is a potential for transformation, as long as we move beyond judgment and into understanding. Learn to observe your anger, learn from it, heal the wound and then release everything around it, including you. Then you will feel more powerful and from that point, will experience fewer opportunities to be angry.

Copyright (c) 2013 by Jennifer Hoffman. You may translate, link to or quote this article, in its entirety, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. Any other use of this material is strictly prohibited.

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