Anger as Catalyst

Megha Venketasamy
Posted February 21, 2020 from Mauritius
Image source: @Camilla Quintero Franco @Unsplash

I grew up with roaring thunder inside me. For years, I had this cycle of internalizing my anger until I would move to a peak where I would outbreak havoc in my space.

Post my outburst, I would cripple in self-judgment for I had this shameful guilty relating to anger.

I grew in a space where anger was and is tagged as negative.

Angry persons are bad persons.

Anger is equated to violence.

 

Imagine a child, an adolescent, a woman, roaring about violations of her boundaries and post the outburst; she is crippled with guilt and shame.

I know, we are many cycling through this right here right now.

It took me years to understand that internalized anger is self-violating and that it was less about my anger but rather my relating to anger as energy moving inside and outside my self.

 

Anger is probably one of the most stigmatized emotions in this world, often tagged as negative, to be avoided at all cost, spiritually connected beings do not get angry, bring in peace and breathe out anger.

 

For years, a stiffing intent is in operation which is that of shutting people’s voices through shaming anger as an emotion.

 

Women are shamed for being angry. Angry women are lunatic; angry women are hysteric; angry women are to be avoided; angry women are not good enough; angry women are to be shamed; angry women are often reminded that they are being too much.

 

Anger is a healthy response to having boundaries crossed.

 

Anger is not the same as rage, aggression or acting out. It is possible to be angry with someone or in a given context and still show up vulnerably and engage in a conversation opening up to solutions.

Most of us do not have a template for this healthy version of anger. Our relating to anger is largely influenced on how growing up we experienced and witnessed others people expressing anger; what we were told and taught about anger – ours and others; we might have learned that anger isn’t acceptable or if we express anger, we will be rejected.

 

Are you someone who says, “I do not get angry”?

Do you pride in being someone who is “never angry”?  

Do you have a relationship with anger?

If you were to use a word to summarize your relationship with anger, what would that word be?

 

Whatever is our current relationship with anger, it exists. Whenever we deny and/or refuse acknowledgement of our anger, we fail to provide a healthy outlet for it’s expression. The outcome often is our anger gets channeled into something beyond our control,

 

Sometimes this might be explosive: where we bottle things until we can’t hold back any longer, or until something seemingly innocuous makes us hit the roof , termed by Brené Brown as “chandeliering”

 

Sometimes unacknowledged anger can manifest as anxiety or depression. Sometimes bottled anger can manifest under the guise of “being honest” and allowing a tirade of pent-up feeling and frustration to pour out in someone’s direction.

 

Exploring my own relationship with anger, I noticed, in the past I often resorted to sarcasm or barbed comments rather than expressing anger (and the underlying feelings) openly. This doing made me felt safer but also gave me a sense of over-powering the other when I felt at my most vulnerable.

 

Most of us are raised to believe, view, feel and hear anger as “bad.” But anger isn’t the problem, our blueprint about anger is the issue, change the blueprint, our thinking, emotion, feeling, saying and doing will change.

 

What messages did you receive about anger in your childhood?

Do you deny or repress your anger, or does anger cause you to get out of control?

Most importantly, what would you like to be able to tell yourself when you feel angry?

 – Dr Arielle Schwartz

 

Owning one’s inner power calls for ownership of what one thinks, feels, says and do (see blog on Responsibility) and this is the beginning of em-powerment.

Moving self into one’s inner power calls for taking responsibility for what we feel and there is no byspassing of anger as an emotion.

 

The conversation shifts from “you are responsible for my anger” to “I am in a situation where I am experiencing anger. What is calling to my attention?”

 

How we navigate through with our anger can either make or break not only our experience of anger but also other persons’ experience of us too.

What is healthy anger?

Healthy anger is acknowledged; seated in the discomfort of emergence; noticed, lived and accepted for what it is.

Healthy anger is acknowledged as an emotion and not as an identity.

Healthy anger is greeted with a questioning process

What is really behind this?

What story am I telling myself?

 

Often anger masks other more vulnerable feelings like hurt and shame.

 

“Healthy anger always walks hand in hand with vulnerability. When we express anger without additionally expressing the underlying vulnerability, this will only build barriers. It is one thing to tell friends or loved ones that we feel angry with them; it is another to express anger toward them in a way that is frightening or threatening. We will accomplish more if we express anger in a way that emphasizes that we feel hurt. That can invite the other person to listen to us and to remedy the situation.” - Peter Breggin writes in his book Guilt, Shame and Anxiety

 

We long to be heard, to be seen, to be felt and to be embraced yet we hold on to standing in our vulnerability, for to be vulnerable is to show up knowing that one has to control on what will emerge. To be vulnerable is to speak up one’s heart knowing that possibilities of one’s voice being ignored exist. To be vulnerable is to feel this touchy aching part of ourselves with her/his stories, wounds, pains and much more. To be vulnerable is to let go of the masks and to reach out to self and others. To be vulnerable is to stand in the discomfort of our yet-to-be embraced nakedness.

 

Most of us hold on from showing up vulnerably. We intent one thing but we do something else and in most cases, we are acting from a space of protecting selves instead of acknowledging the anger and it’s ilks.

 

How to cultivate a healthy relationship with anger

1. Acknowledgement

Start with acknowledging our anger. We do not have to like it or love it but rather acknowledge the anger that is showing up. Acknowledgement is the first step to ownership and em-powerment.

2. Hold Space

The act of experiencing anger without judging, without rushing to fix it, without bypassing the emotion.

This calls for love for self. This calls for standing in the discomfort of the emotion without throwing it on people in our space.

This calls for ownership.

As we grow and learn to hold space for our emotions, especially anger, we allow space for the emotions to activate this deep process of growth and transformation.

3. Gathering my stories

Anger is a powerful catalyst for growth, opening us deeper and moving us to our most vulnerable spot.

Ask:

“What is really behind this anger?”

Seek help and support. Let there be no shame for seeking and support.

And if our shame and guilt show up, hold space for them.

Meet them tenderly, they are equally deserving of our attention.

Let there be no bypassing.

 4. Explore the messages and Uncovering the masks

In most of us, anger does not always manifest as anger, sometimes it is resentment; sometimes it is frustration; sometimes it is anxiety and sometimes it’s depression.

These masks veil us because they feel safer and more acceptable than anger.

Start by exploring the messages you have received around anger. Growing up, I received these messages around anger.

“Good persons do not get angry. Anger means violent.

You are as bad and mean as that person when you are angry.

When you express anger, people will leave you.

A woman better learn to digest her anger or she will love her man.

Your anger is unjustified and unreasonable.”

 

If we have internalized these kinds of messages, then we have crafted a blueprint around anger and how it is to be in operation or in in-operation in our life and consciously and /or unconsciously, we will channel our anger in to something that feels more acceptable.

 

Every emotion is valid. No emotion is our identity. No emotion defines us.

 

Anger is as valid and as acceptable as joy, sadness, excitement, fear, happiness or any other emotion on the emotional spectrum.

 

Look for the feelings underneath the anger: usually these are a combination of hurt, shame, guilt, anxiety or similar. These are the root of our anger and we need to acknowledge them to relate to and express our anger in a healthy way.

5. Re-claiming and Rewriting your relationship with anger

Anger is not the problem but our blueprint about what anger is and how it is to show up in our life.

Anger discomforts but it a response to feeling wronged and violated and it can lead to constructive outcomes when processed and responded to appropriately.

If you were to re-write your relationship with anger:

What would that new relationship look like, feel like, sound like?

What would be your new experience of your relationship with anger?

6. Practice Healthy Anger

Become aware of your anger.

Gracefully allows space for this emotion.

Take time, step out, listen to yourself, breathe, process your feelings and get to the roots of your anger.

Decide how you want to respond. Responding healthily calls for showing up vulnerably in intent.

 

No matter how hurting we are, if we express our anger without expressing the emotions and stories that lie underneath, we will raise more barriers in relating to the other.

 

By showing up with our rawness and speaking of the spectrum of our experience, we give other a change to empathize with us and this is catalytic for deeper conversing, inclusive solutions and trust.

 

Unless we grow in awareness of what has been violated in us, we will replay the same cycle over and over again. Unless others are given space to experience our experience of our anger in a healthy way, we will fail to own our voice fully and we will run the blame on what was done unto us.

 

May we dare to show up in our aching with the intent to speak up our stories, meeting our anger as a catalyst for including self and others.

May we show up, we speak our stories behind our anger, for anger is never a solo emotion, something else awaits above to be met and to be held.

Remember even the strongest and most resilient of us will go through challenges. This path of inward descend is not easy. There are bound to be dark days, come what may, do not fall in despair and if you do despair, then roll your aching on the earth, cry out and slowly gather yourself back. And if you struggle to rise then crawl your entirety, crawl like a beggar lifting your heart to life and you will be heard, seen, felt and embraced.

Love from my heart to yours

Megha Venketsamy

 

 

Comments 18

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Jill Langhus
Feb 22
Feb 22

Hello Megha Love,

How are you doing? Thanks for sharing your really helpful post about anger. I'm surprised that you were so angry, but of course you've been working on overcoming it for years, too. I used to be very angry, too, and suppressed it. At least I don't have the bouts of depression any longer from suppressing it. Those were horrible. Still have the anxiety, but I don't think it's from suppressed anger as much any longer. Your bullets are really helpful for people that have addressed some of the anger, or haven't at all. Thanks again for sharing your lovely wisdom, and personal experience, dear.

Hope you're doing well and having a great weekend.

XX

Megha Venketasamy
Feb 27
Feb 27

Anger in children often begin with violations of boundaries. when i pause and listen to endless stories of women, I hear, see, feel and witness violation of boundaries at varying levels. anger and women - we have been taught these are unwelcomed in this world.

it has been a journey since, I still experience anger but it is mostly healthy channelled and focused with intent.

most importantly, everyday I gently learn to be kind with myself, exactly the way a mother would be.

thank you for your words and your encouragements

love love love

Jill Langhus
Feb 28
Feb 28

Hello dear,

Yes! You've come a long way. I hope you're proud of yourself?! I'm still learning this. It's hard, right?

You're welcome!

XX

maeann
Feb 22
Feb 22

Thank you for sharing Megha. Being an angry person will just makes you ugly.... so when you are about to get angry, pull out yoursef, walk out, drink water, take a deep breath and pause for a while.

Megha Venketasamy
Feb 27
Feb 27

my dearest maean..
it's powerful what you wrote "being an angry person will just make you ugly"

what does it mean to you when you are ugly?
what happens to you and your life when you become ugly?

but most importantly, who told you that "being an angry person will just make you ugly"

Anita Shrestha
Feb 22
Feb 22

Dear Sis
Thank you for sharing this post. It is very very helpful for all.

Megha Venketasamy
Feb 27
Feb 27

love <3

Metiege Noel Eve
Feb 23
Feb 23

Thank you sister for sharing your experiences about anger. Personally I am one who easily gets those fits with anger. Anytime I am angry I just want to be given the opportunity to talk it out anger can lead to depression if not vented out. I usually pray so hard to always overcome it but it is such a strong emotion but I will learn from your experiences

Megha Venketasamy
Feb 27
Feb 27

I hear you sister

this needs to heard - somehow it was violated years back, maybe from childhood.

pause and hear yourself
hear what you have to say and listen to yourself

I am so grateful that you wrote your heart out. I know as much as it has moved me, it will move many sisters

love from my heart to yours

lizzymark
Feb 24
Feb 24

Hi Megha,such a heart and thought provoking post. I use to be angry too but I learnt to control it through God's word and listening to the right messages to help. Am grateful that I can get angry but turn it for good and use it for change. But I've learnt more from your story and post. Thanks for shearing.

Megha Venketasamy
Feb 27
Feb 27

I hear you sister

thank you for your words

love from my heart to yours

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Hi Megha.
How are you doing.
Thank you so much for sharing this post about anger. It really doesn't help us to be angry. Because when we are angry we say and do things that we can only regret later.
Have a lovely day.

Megha Venketasamy
Feb 27
Feb 27

hi anita,

I love what you wrote.

here's the thing, it is not about anger as such . anger is a just an emotion.

it is what we do with that emotion, the energy that is rising from that emotion.

our behaviour is what does the mess. but our behaviour is more than just our behaviour - there are layers and levels of thinking and relating and emoting.

pause and think about it.

cus we are not our actions .

sending love from my heart to yours

megha

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Your welcome Megha. Have a lovely weekend.

Felicitas Wung
Feb 26
Feb 26

Thanks for sharing this on ANGER

Megha Venketasamy
Feb 27
Feb 27

love <3

Megha Venketasamy
Feb 27
Feb 27

I have had comments and words flooding from different sources since I posted this piece (here and on my blog)

Here are my thoughts and I am sharing here, so that every sister who has had a touch with with is piece, can pause to deepen their reflecting.

There is no wrongess in anger - anger is just an emotion..

every one of us here, we consciously and/or unconsciously have used anger or a form of disguised anger to say "enough, I am owning responsibility to be a change agent, to educate myself and others, to play a key role in shifting the world, to have create more opportunities for women ..." (the list is endless).

but here's the truth, we often equate to violence and this happens at a subsconscious level.
and we teach women and girls (from a very early), that angry women are not enough, not worthy, not appreciated, not welcomed, not beautiful.

I know endless women who wiggle with anger as an emotion cus of the beliefs they carry around anger - inner self judgement, self self loathing, inner self hitting and much more.

anger speaks of violation of boundaries - pause and think of your own life.

as we rise up to channel that anger in a healthy way, we teach not only others but most ourselves to live up to our core values and intent.

the reason I write is that of being a conscious seed planter within the fertile soil of women, men and children I encounter. I plant seeds of questions

I do same with myself.

if there is one thing that has shaken my entire life and ushered me further so far has been are questions that I ask myself whenever one of my belief rises "whose belief is this? is this mine? do i totally align with it though I have been using it for years? is this belief supporting me on my journey to being a fully empowered woman? do i want to keep this belief?"

Fanka
Feb 29
Feb 29

Hello Megha,
Hope you are doing great. I used to be very angry and later on discovered it was a family sick so I told myself one day that it has to stop. Now am a happy person.