When I have a healthy relationship with my anger I possess the means and ability to protect myself. If someone crosses my boundaries, that is to say, if someone disrespects or disregards my needs, without a relationship with anger I may offer little or no resistance. I might not even feel I have the right to resist.
When I have a relationship with my anger I possess the potential to authentically express my anger according to the level of the violation.
Authentic anger expression is the ability to retain witness to the anger I feel. Anger does not overwhelm me. It does not take possession of me. I am in control of my anger, I choose the appropriate level of anger response, I may take time out to contemplate that level or I may choose it instantaneously if the situation I am dealing with demands it.
However, I am in charge of my anger. I call the shots.
My relationship with my anger reflects my preparedness to become angry with you should you violate my boundaries, that is, if you disrespect me, or act in ways that are inappropriate towards myself or my loved ones. I will protect who I am and the interest I have.
There is almost an invisible protection that comes out of a relationship with my anger. It is something intangible. Just as an animal is able to smell fear in an animal and conversely strength and resilience in another animal, I believe a relationship with anger and the preparedness to see my needs as important and to duly defend myself as is necessary is an energy that can be tangibly sensed and felt by others.
“I am a loving, caring, compassionate person,” I say to my students, “My hope is that you all know that about me. But at the same time, you cannot mess with me or violate the people or things I hold dear. To do so is to know my wrath. Can you feel that about me without me having to say it?” I ask them. And they will nod their affirmation.
Consequently, I find I have far less need to express my anger, because the world outside of me knows I possess the willingness to voice it if and as needed. Therefore I feel protected. I feel safe.
This is contrary to the world’s expectations. It is generally believed that a relationship with anger will incline us to be angry more of the time. The reverse is true.
Anger is a hot energy. If that heat is allowed to run rampant within us we will be prone to intolerant outbursts of rage. The dust rarely settles, and we will be at the mercy of these outburst. However, if this heat is harnessed our inner world will be enhanced, in the same way that our world benefits greatly from the electricity borne out of the harnessing of certain energy sources.
In the early mornings, before I commence my day, I practice Kundalini yoga. Kundalini yoga practices harnessing and utilizing the hot energy, such as my anger, so that it becomes a resource in my day. The yoga exercises are often very physical and demanding, asking me to stretch outside of what I sometimes feel to be my physical limitations. At the end of the series of rigorous exercises when I sit in my stillness, I feel a deep calm. I allow myself to sink into that calmness so that it fills my innermost deepest recesses.
When the heat of my anger is harnessed I am able to bring calm into my whole day. It is only when I have a relationship to my anger that I have the ability and power to harness my heat in this way. Without that relationship anger will not respond to my call.
Anger is a natural catalyst to change. It is the spark inside of us that ignites our engine to create movement in our lives. A relationship with anger harnesses that spark. Once harnessed we can connect it up to ignite the engine which in turn allows us to make movement.
Anger and frustration are meant to be catalysts to change. We are supposed to become so frustrated with how things are that we want to do something about it. Anger generates that as long as we have a relationship to it. Without the anger relationship, that which we dislike can instead become an excuse for the venting of our rage.
Without a relationship with anger we have the tendency to be affected by stress more. We have less ability to create change. We tend to hold on to the old ways despite the fact that the old ways may not be working so well anymore. Stress then results from the inability to let go of ways that no longer work for us or are less efficient for our lives. A relationship with anger allows us to create necessary change, cope with the change, and provides the forces needed to forge that change.
I am reminded of someone who ran a business out of his home. The business was rapidly becoming successful and he was finding the need to move his office out of the basement of his home into a commercial office space. “The longer my office stays in my basement, the more stressed I become. My basement no longer has the capacity to hold my files and client records, and I am constantly tripping over myself,” he told me “Plus, I need to start hiring employees to take some of the work load off me.”
Originally this man’s anxiety dominated all else. He feared change to the point that the consideration of such a move would have been trashed as unrealistic. But his subsequent personal growth work led to him uncovering his anger.
His anger used to be largely directed towards himself. He wanted so badly to find success through his business but felt dogged and held back by his anxiety. His anger was self-directed; forever berating himself for being, in his own eyes, so weak and inept for being unable to change his office location.
As he began to re-direct his anger away from himself and to direct it towards the sources in his past and present that were justified in receiving his anger expression, his relentless self-anger began to diminish. He started to experience more energy and vitality
He channeled it into a morning regime of jogging. He started to lose weight and began to gain more self-confidence. Alongside the satisfaction of these changes, he was noticing a stronger desire and motivation to move his office out of the basement.
One day, he made the proud announcement that he had made the move; he was now in a commercial office building, one he was confident would better support the growth and success of his business.
When I asked him to look back and describe to me how he arrived at this decision, he told me that before signing the lease he spent a number of sleepless nights worrying about having to pay a higher rent. “But the spark and desire to make the move,” he said, “Was so much stronger than the anxiety originally holding me back that I could no longer contain the spark.
My desire to make the move won out over my anxiety – and so I took the risk.”
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