Why Are You Angry?
We have over vilified anger in our society. Religions see it as a major problem. Psychology treats it like a toddler to be managed. People are fearful of it. But anger need not be any of these things. Anger can be a change producing and helpful gift from our deeper selves.
In my experience of working with people I have come to see anger as being an arrow that points inward. When we listen to this communication from our selves, we learn from it and anger subsides, but when we don’t listen and just react, that is when anger creates problems in our behavior and thinking.
Anger is an arrow pointing to two main internal experiences. These are often tied together but for the sake of this essay I want to simplify it a bit by separating them.
Those internal experiences are: 1. A voice 2. An emotion or some sort of feeling state.
What do I mean by a voice? Well, often when people get to the point that they are very angry it usually means that a boundary was crossed or a desire to speak was stifled. We eventually stifle our own voices and this is why we stay angry. We point and blame others but really we are the one’s to blame. This is why anger is a gift and is for us. It is an arrow pointing to our inner world not to changing something in our outer world.
I will often work with people that do not even realize how they are not speaking up. They are not assertively addressing those who have hurt them. They are not letting someone know in the moment that they just stepped on their toe. They are not communicating their deeper needs in their intimate relationship. They are not communicating to their boss or coworker about what they are really feeling or thinking. When we continue to silence our voice, it gets restless. It begins to feel trapped and we then experience anger. Anger is good, it is telling us that this is possibly happening. We must listen to our angry reactions and they will tell us we are not speaking.
The other reason for anger, which is tied to having a voice, is that anger is pointing toward a feeling we need to feel. We again, often ignore our own feelings and those feelings do not want to be ignored. The more we ignore them the more restless they get. We may have been hurt, bored, frustrated, happy even, but reliquished those feelings to the side. Anger is often an arrow pointing toward those feelings so they may be experienced and sometimes even expressed. This is where the emotion or feeling can be tied to having a voice. First we must understand the feeling we are having and then we need to express it.
A lot of the time we don’t even need to express it. We just need to feel it, experience it. Often times if we listen to anger and allow the experience of an emotion to be felt, we are better able to then assertively communicate, having a voice that is heard instead of dismissed due to an outburst of sorts. One might just need to spend some time alone and really validate their own feelings regarding a situation, a person, a dream, what have you. This time with self is validating one’s own experience and says it is valuable.
Saying our experience is valuable is saying we matter and allows us to fully BE in this world. Likewise, having and expressing our voice also says we matter and allows us to fully BE. When we are hiding our voice and/or our emotions we are not fully existing as our selves. This creates a sense of agitation that can often lead to anger depending on the size of the gap between feeling/voice and immediate experiencing.
The experience of emotion and the expression of our voice are liberating ways of being in the world.
So the next time you are angry, take some time to self reflect and listen to your anger. I believe it is pointing to something inside you that needs attention. What needs to be said? What needs to be felt?