“I have no energy to give right now,” I snap as my phone rings.
A few minutes later my phone dings, notifying me that I have another email.
“Can everyone just give me a freaking break! I just need some alone time,” I continue.
I quickly stop myself. “I am so grateful for all the people in my life who love me and who I love back,” I say. But the anger continues to sizzle.
“Yeah sure, I’m grateful but…” I attempt to finish my thought but I interrupt myself again before I can continue.
“I am grateful for my business, I am excited about the progress on my book, I am grateful for...STOP!” I interrupt myself for the last time.
“Why do I keep listing shit that I am grateful for?” I finally blurt out. “I’m pissed. Let me be pissed!”
As women, we often grow up learning that expressing anger is unattractive. When we do get angry, we’re labeled as over-emotional, dramatic, or crazy. Besides being influenced by cultural conditioning, I constantly witnessed anger as a child. Both of my parents were mentally unstable and that instability often resulted in outbursts of rage that hurt the people around them, most frequently me and my sister. Neither of my parents used anger as a healthy way to work through a situation and then move forward. Instead, they became angry, hurt people, then did nothing else to heal. As I got older, I became angry about the situation I was living in and began lashing out as a way to set boundaries and protect myself. This often resulted in punishment and even more pain. Eventually, all of these lessons combined taught me to believe that anger was an unhealthy emotion that led only to destruction.
Fast forward twenty years to me sitting in my apartment stubbornly trying to resist the anger that’s adamantly pushing its way out.
“Why am I afraid to be angry right now?” I ask myself.
Then it hits me, “Because if I get angry about this one situation in my life, that means that I am ungrateful for all the great things happening in my life. And if I am ungrateful for those things, then they will go away.”
I spent years witnessing anger as a destructive force that hurt good people and ruined good things. I believed that if I allowed myself to be angry about one area in my life, then that anger would end up destroying all the good things that I loved.
“The good things in my life are like unconditional love,” I tell myself, “They’re not going anywhere.” I continue, “Now let’s figure out how to be pissed.”
I knew that I was resisting anger - a great first step. But I didn’t know how to feel anger without fearing that it would fully consume me. So I started researching. That’s when I found the Goddess Kali. Goddess Kali is most known for her rage and resistance but, in a deeper sense, she is the Goddess of ends and beginnings, and freedom on all levels. Through anger, she destroys all illusions, fears, and excess so that you can see the truth in both yourself and all situations. Yes, she destroys but, in her destruction, she allows new things to be born. In short, through anger, she cuts through the bullshit. She uses fiery rage to destroy so that the truth can be revealed once the ashes settle and better things can replace said bullshit. How awesome is that?!
I had only ever witnessed the destruction phase of anger but, when anger is expressed healthily, there is a whole other transformative phase that comes after the rage - a beautiful phase where renewal, consciousness, and freedom are born from the embers.
I finally understand that anger is a badass, transformative, beautiful emotion. I’m not afraid of it anymore - in fact, I’m ready to embrace it. But how do I do that? Here’s what I came up with:
Ask yourself questions
C’mon, you all should know by now that I love talking to myself. If you’re like me, jumping right into feeling rage may not be easy - I wasn’t even sure where to start. Sometimes looking at your anger practically can be a good place to start. Ask yourself questions like, Why am I angry? Why do I feel uncomfortable expressing anger? Why am I afraid of anger? Who am I pissed off at? What other emotions will come up if I experience anger, and am I avoiding those emotions? What do I need to hear right now in order to feel comfortable expressing my rage?
Identify what your anger is signaling you to do
All emotions are signals. Anger is an emotion that often signals us to take action. Maybe our anger is signaling us to set boundaries or leave an unhealthy situation or take back parts of ourselves that aren’t being respected by someone we trusted them with. When we ignore anger, we ignore the action it's signaling us to take, and we remain stuck. Take some time to identify what your anger is trying to communicate.
Use the emotional spectrum as a guide
In his book Power vs. Force, David Hawkins discusses a spectrum of emotions and the energy frequency that each emotion emits according to where its located on the spectrum. The spectrum ranges from shame being the lowest on the spectrum to enlightenment being the highest. Anger is actually located closer to the middle of the spectrum - it’s not “good” or “bad.” It simply serves as a pivot point either upwards or downwards on the spectrum. I can choose to experience anger and then spiral downward into guilt, fear, and shame, or I can choose to feel angry then gracefully move upwards into pride and courage. Use the spectrum to help you identify some of the underlying emotions within your anger. Maybe underneath your anger lies shame. I know I was upset with myself for allowing myself to remain in a situation that didn’t make me feel good. Expressing that anger allowed me to acknowledge the shame I felt and release it while forgiving myself.
Additionally, the spectrum can be used as a guide to track your progress. Above anger, on the spectrum, is pride and courage. Perhaps, once you express anger, you’ll feel proud of yourself. That pride may then allow for the courage needed to take the action your anger has been signaling you to take. Tracking your emotions along this spectrum can help you celebrate the progress you’re making.
Find an ongoing activity to participate in that acts as a healthy outlet for anger. Kickboxing, lifting weights, sprinting, chopping food aggressively during cooking classes, martial arts, all of these activities can be great ways to release anger on the daily.
Fuck shit up
Sometimes, releasing small amounts of anger every day isn’t enough. Sometimes, you need to release all that fiery rage at once. If you don’t want to immediately get violent, try making a “Rage Playlist” of all the songs that encourage the anger to flow. With every song, dance, pound on the floors or walls, throws pillows, etc. until you’re exhausted and satisfied. If jumping right into fucking shit up is your thing, punch pillows, pound on your mattress, take a baseball bat to your backyard and bash some dirt. Scream, yell, cry. Do whatever feels best for you and your rage. Even if you are unsure where to start, just let yourself try, you will be surprised by how easy it is to flow right into a full-blown transformative rage.
My pillows are strewn all over my apartment and my voice is hoarse from yelling as I lay on my floor sweating, panting, and heart beating. “That was better than sex!” I proclaim, feeling completely released and satisfied. I can feel the last of the cinders of all that was destroyed fizzle out. “I’m a freaking goddess,” I say as I wait to see what begins to grow.