The Soft Underbelly of Anger
We get angry when our expression of personal power is hampered. We can only metabolize our anger by feeling it. We then can come to clarity around appropriate expression of anger.
There is a vast difference between a fight response, and feeling and appropriately expressing anger.
- A fight response is a reactive, nervous system, primitive brain attempt to protect ourselves
- In a fight response, we are emotionally flooded, disconnected from ourselves, and avoid feeling our hurt under the anger
Justifying thoughts and outrage recycle and intensify our anger. Why are they so mean? I hate the way my boss interrupts me! If he says that again, I will tell him ________! As long as we are caught up in these thoughts, our anger has nowhere to go. We are not in our body.
“Anger is trying to tell us something. It’s not the main event. Tension arises from our unwillingness to be with this deep sense of being hurt and in despair because of our situation.” Lama Rod Owen, Love and Rage, the Path of Liberation Through Anger
What Does Anger Do For Us?
- We avoid feeling weak, overwhelmed and helpless
- Anger moves us out of freeze into fight response
- It gives us energy to push through
- It helps us to stay connected to our suffering (our pain and hurt are validated and not forgotten)
- Bonding against a common enemy helps us stay in solidarity with other marginalized people
- We avoid feeling hurt and despair
Feeling anger helps us clear the reactivity and opens space for vulnerability, clarity and truth in our response. Taking care of our pain softens our hurt and we can empathize with ourselves. Being connected and empathetic within makes it easier to empathize with others around us. We remember the humanity of others and our desire to not harm others.
When we are hurt, a fight response takes us out of caring for ourselves and into protecting ourselves. Being in a reactive protective response like fight/ flight/ freeze/ fawn is inherently disconnecting. We lose access to our higher level mind and our good heart.
Anger is a whole mindbody experience. We feel heat and other sensations in our body. Our mind is held hostage to outraged thoughts. We can use mindfulness tools and our own willingness to come back and be present to lower the temperature. As we move out of fight response, we connect again, feeling the anger and the hurt. Our hearts soften. Ahhh . . .
For the next few weeks in our Sunday Community Class we are exploring anger. Join us Sundays at 10AM Eastern. Zoom link and details here.