If you are like me, you probably don’t like feeling jealous, envious, angry, frustrated, bitter or resentful. Not only these emotions feel bad, but there is also a lot of stigma attached to them. Unlike feelings of guilt, sadness or fear, anger and jealousy get a lot of bad press in our society. We are told it is wrong to feel angry. And many people train themselves to never show these kind of emotions, ever.
But is it really a shame o feel angry? Why is it that – at times – we need to feel angry?
When people are depressed or anxious, they usually feel trapped and powerless. But it is not the fear or depression that makes them powerless, these feelings always precede the disorder. Anxiety, depression or addictions are just bigger, louder demonstrations of powerlessness. As these feelings become dominant, the ‘disorder’ becomes more and more pronounced and start dominating your lives.
How does it feel to be in this state of utter emotional and mental powerlessness? It feels like life energy is being sucked away from you? It feels like you are dying and trying to grasp at some brittle straws of hope. It wins the ‘worst feeling ever’ award every time.
It creates enormous stress in the body and the accompanying feeling of ‘dying’ or ‘lacking energy’ is more real that you think. A state of despair and hopelessness prevents your body, its systems and organs from working in the optimal way. A prolong depression or anxiety exhausts the body more than anything ever could.
Now comes the anger. And it feels – to your complete surprise – like a life giving breath of fresh air. Like a big breath of air after you had been drowning. It feel like the energy whooshing back, into your body. And for a short moment you feel better.
It also feels like a stand. Like giving yourself the right to ask for more. To demand for yourself. For a brief moment it feels like standing up for yourself. I have the right to something better than that. I deserve more!
For someone who has been depressed, abused, fearful or trapped for a long time, a whoosh of anger is truly life giving. Anger is like breaking the chains. It genuinely feels good. Before we start judging it.
We judge it, push it away, ashamed with ourselves because it is not the right way to feel. It is not, we say, who we want to be. It is not pretty.
But pushing the life-giving anger away is what got us in trouble in the first place. Look around, a society made of many who feel trapped and dis-empowered. And the only door to freedom for many of us has been shut by making anger unacceptable.
And ye, if you have been depressed, anxious, hopelessly lost and stuck for a long time, accepting the anger as a way out is the first important step to your freedom. Rather than repress it with guilt and shame, let yourself feel the freedom of it. Don’t act on it, don’t shout at others. But recognize that feeling pissed off and annoyed and angry, maybe even ragingly angry with someone else, or even with yourself is okay. In fact, it has to be okay before you can be free.
Because of our collective aversion to anger – many continue to be imprisoned in the following cycle of despair – anger – guilt – despair – anger – guilt – despair – anger – guilt – despair – anger – guilt. And as this cycle continues it makes both despair and anger deeper and more volatile. The guilt and shame push you back into depression, and as you try to gasp for air and feel angry, the shame undermines you again. And again. And again. The longer the cycle goes, the more intense it becomes.
Until one day you lose control over how you feel completely and act on your anger. You beat someone up, you shoot someone, you hurt others that seem to be responsible for your pain.
Or you use it against yourself. You hurt or cut yourself, you drink until you pass out, you destroy what is positive in your life. You may not want to, but you are grasping for air. Desperately seeking relief.
For things to get that far, where you are hurting yourself or others, the cycle must have been going on for a while. And yet, if in early stage someone told you to just get angry, to stand up for your right to feel more empowered, you would have been much better now.
So next time you feel angry, jealous, frustrated – don’t judge it. Don’t act on it, but don’t judge it either. Or better said, act on in but in a constructive way.
The anger is not something that you have been ‘storing deep in your cells’, it is a reaction to ongoing sense of not having as much say in your own life as you would like to. It tells you that you have lost touch with your strength, that you are disconnected from your personal power.
It wants to guide you out of the dark place into some light. Let it do it. Sit with it, be with it, write about it. Admit to yourself, I feel angry. Write down your angry thoughts. Get into it, be genuine rather than polite, be angry. Write.
Don’t try to be nice and fair. Don’t try to be forgiving, you can do that later. Give voice to your anger – it has something to say to you. It makes you stand up in recognition that you deserve better!
Does it seem like something that you tried before? This time try it without judging the emotions, without pushing the anger away, no mater how ugly and embarrassing it seems. You are on your own, writing it down, there is nothing shameful about it. Imagine yourself shouting and kicking and screaming, write about unfairness and hurt that you ever experienced, proclaim the hurt and injustice unacceptable. Accept the anger. Accept jealousy because it tells you what it is that you want for yourself.
You want to feel good. And you want to feel good about yourself.
If you allow yourself to simply accept the anger and engage with it in your writing or in your imagination, with honesty and without judgment, you will start feeling powerful surges of relief and freedom very soon. Things will feel less stuck and less dire. You will feel refreshed (and tired).
It will open a window of opportunity. To make a different decision. To make a different choice. How is it that you want to feel? What do you want to let go of? Not because you need to forgive. But because you deserve to be free.