“Rage is the biological force that protects that which is loved.” Valarie Kaur
We know anger as the fight response in our nervous system, the fiery energy of lashing out and fighting back. We recognize a transgression against ourselves. Someone is hurting us. We want it to stop. Our primitive brain generates a response of fight/ flight/ freeze. This is an unconscious response to threat and danger.
Anger is a natural response. What happens inside of us when it is not safe to express anger or even to let ourselves feel it?
In a family where there is physical violence, the strongest and biggest bully rules and the others submit. We feel powerless and outraged and we may in turn abuse people weaker than ourselves. Children can’t protect themselves from violence and they can’t afford to stand up to a parent who shames, shows contempt, or gives them the silent treatment.
How do we express ourselves in a culture where women are conditioned to niceness and “uppity women” are labeled nasty bitches? What happens in a culture where men are conditioned to suppress feelings and excused for their explosive anger? There is no intimacy without safety and authentic connection.
“There was rage roaring inside of her. I had never seen that much rage in my mother’s eyes, and it was the first time I was reckoning with the fact that her rage was a testament to how deeply she loved me, that she was there to protect me and that she was showing me that I was worthy of protecting myself, that I could un-tap that rage to protect my own body, my own dignity as a human being, as a woman, as her daughter.” Valerie Kaur from an interview with Tami Simon, Sounds True.
Children especially have a strong sense of knowing when something is unjust and that it is wrong. We may fawn and appease an abusive or disconnected parent but we also resent them for it. We take the blame on ourselves to try to stay connected with our parents even as we long to be seen and validated and know the powerful rage and protection of a mother like Valerie Kaur’s.
“We learn to fear our own anger, not only because it brings about the disapproval of others, but also because it signals the necessity for change. We may begin to ask ourselves questions that serve to block or invalidate our own experience of anger: “Is my anger legitimate?” “Do I have a right to be angry?” “What’s the use of my getting angry?” “What good will it do?” These questions can be excellent ways of silencing ourselves and shutting off our anger.” Harriet Lerner
We are adults now who see that children have very limited agency. Without money, we can’t move our body to a place of safety. We are pretty much stuck with our parents plus we are vulnerable to internalizing core deficiency beliefs. It feels like the reason we are not protected and cared for is that there is something fundamentally wrong with us. As adults, we can learn about the dynamics of childhood and intergenerational trauma and begin to heal. We can understand what our child’s brain could not and begin to see through our conditioning. We are not broken. We are traumatized.
One barrier to becoming our own fierce protector is when our primitive brain and nervous system continues to respond to threat as though we are a helpless child. We are thrown into survival responses of fight/ flight/ freeze/ fawn. It may feel too threatening to form a relationship with our body and how we feel. Until we experience for ourselves that we can safely enter the territory of our body and feelings, we naturally aren’t sure it’s a good idea to come down from thinking and into feeling.
Our Sunday classes in January and February are focused on trust and connection. This week we are looking into trusting ourselves and our body in relationship to anger and outrage. Join us at 10AM Eastern every Sunday. 582 534 511 Passcode 469878
“Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end. And the speaking will get easier and easier. And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.” — Audre Lorde
Action with others in community can be a way of overcoming helplessness and moving into being grounded and powerful. One way to do that is to join Valerie Kaur and Sounds True in the People’s Inauguration. It begins with a pledge we take as individuals to work together for justice and is followed by 10 days of free speakers and celebrations.
Join Valarie and an extraordinary community of visionaries, artists, activists, and healers in this global movement to reclaim love as a force for justice and change in our world. In the wake of recent turmoil, violence, and insurrection, it is more important than ever to come together around justice, healing, and renewal. May The People’s Inauguration be medicine for the moment.