Making Space for Anger
Anger, like everything else, is simply an energy. And within us, all energy is seeking expression. In its natural movement, it flows through us like a gentle stream. We see this natural movement most easily in children, who can be angry and tearful in one moment and before you know it are back on their feet looking as happy as can be.
But as adults (and even more so as women) we tend to get the message that there is something mean, inappropriate, or even unhinged about anger. It can make us feel unkind or guilty toward the person we are angry at. So for many of us, our first instinct is to try to make it go away. We may push it down entirely or let it run wild in our minds while denying it any form of outward expression.
But our anger is as real and valid as any other emotion, and it needs our acknowledgment. When we deny the emotion or refuse to give it expression, it becomes trapped in our systems like an emotional dam, building in pressure until it’s ready to burst—which unfortunately can often mean lashing out at a loved one or “safe person,” many times without even realizing that’s what we are doing.
To allow this emotion to return to it’s natural state of flow, we must find a way to give it a space for a healthy acknowledgment and expression.
Acknowledging the anger alone can be a difficult step, and requires us to look honestly at whatever feelings are there without censoring ourselves or labeling them as “mean,” “wrong,” or “unkind.”
From there, we must explore ways to bring it outside of ourselves with healthy expression. This can include journaling, artwork, movement, poetry, active imagination, or any number of creative outlets. When we engage consciously in these processes, we create a container in which we can move the energy outward and begin to see it as outside of ourselves. And better yet, by processing the emotion through a physical expression (which even journaling can be), we take it out of the racing mind and into a more embodied place. In doing so, we are able to actually move the energy rather than simply replaying our story about it.
To bring this process into your own life, try asking yourself the following questions:
What is my first instinct when anger pops up? Am I able to see it clearly or do I tend to push it away?
What are the unconscious thoughts that are keeping me from acknowledging this emotion?
To see beneath the surface of this emotion, try visualizing the part of you that is upset and asking it, “what do you need?” Is it acknowledgment, space to be seen or heard, room to breathe, a new boundary to be set? Allow yourself to simply be with this part of yourself and be open to the insights that may arise.
To find expression for the energy, ask yourself if there is a color, shape, or movement to the feeling. What would its expression look like to you? Try giving it shape and form through your choice of creative outlet and set the active intention to pour the energy of the feeling into the project. Notice how the feeling changes after you’re finished.
As always, be gentle with yourself and enjoy the journey inward.
Lots of love,