It is unlikely that any course of therapy, coaching or other form personal development will allow you to avoid the discovery of anger. And you would sure like it if you could move through it quickly in a clean way, wouldn’t you? You hope that containing the rage to a surprising single catharsis session where you hit a pillow might just solve it so you can move along and maintain our composure as a decent person.
As a generalization, there are those who express anger outwardly and those who internalize it. Expressers tend to work with anger in a way that is outwardly destructive while Internalizers tend to point it inwards resulting in shame, resentment and passive aggression. Depression, anxiety and other symptoms that contribute to suffering are often related to unresolved feelings of anger.
A powerful exercise at any level of our development is to examine individual and cultural beliefs around anger. Judge for yourself how anger has shaped you and vice-versa:
· Do you allow yourself to show anger?
· Is there a difference between anger and violence?
· How was anger expressed (or not) in your family system?
· Does anger inform you of anything other than a belief that someone, including yourself, or something is bad.
Start with your direct experience of anger and take 100% responsibility for it. This is no small task but it’s a good exercise to drop underneath any blame and simply acknowledge your anger as yours. Blame is an indicator you have taken on a victim stance and that you are governed by your aggression. And if you genuinely believe we don’t have anger you may be overlooking a gold mine of creative life force. It may mask itself as shame or irritability for Internalizers. Expressers will need to gently contain their expression and feel underneath to tolerate strong feelings and Internalizers may need assistance awakening anger.
Anger and aggression are not the same thing! With the discovery of the pure energy of anger as upright clarity and healthy boundaries, firmness, directness and confidence follow. Being angry becomes a skill and tool you can consciously choose when appropriate. This does not mean we are through working with anger and we do not need to be. It means we are liberated from our conditioned way of relating to anger and can now use the intensity of this pure, clear strong energy as a form of active engagement and even compassion.