Get Comfortable With Anger to Feel Joy
We all get angry.
While some of us yell and scream, others quietly seethe. Anger is just one of the many feelings we experience in our lives. But it can often be one of the most powerful feelings felt.
Let’s say there are five core feeling states: joy, anger, sadness, fear, and sexual energy. Consider that in order to be a clear channel and a free presence of power, you must allow yourself the opportunity to feel all of those feelings when they are authentically moving within you.
Ask yourself this simple question: If I were to rank these five feelings states in order of preference, what would be at the top of the list? The bottom?
Typically anger is at the bottom, with sadness a close runner-up. Anger and sadness are the two feeling states we have been trained to experience to a limited degree.
Here’s the big paradox: The preferred state of joy that we’ve been so trained to lust after will in fact be amplified by your willingness to feel anger.
Let me explain.
Anytime we suppress a part of ourselves, we are in fact suppressing all of ourselves. Though we are “trained” to ignore anger, we can’t work through anger unless we first feel anger.
The unwillingness to practice feeling any of these five core feeling states thwarts your access to all of the feeling states.
I have a fair amount of comfort and facility in feeling my anger. And yet, I still struggle because I hear the voice in my head saying, “Anger is bad; anger is not spiritual.” I have spent a lifetime deconstructing false narratives that my voice, my feelings, and my responses are just too much.
Now, I am practicing making those feelings even bigger, so I can transform my discomfort around any one of them. The conversation with myself typically goes like this:
“Lola, how much joy are you willing to experience? Are you feeling good right now? Great! Keep allowing yourself the opportunity to feel that.”
“Lola, how angry are you right now? Are you really giving yourself the gift of feeling it — not replaying the story — but just feeling it? How about making a nonverbal noise that matches the feeling?”
Imagine you’re driving down the expressway. You’re moving fast. Out of nowhere, someone cuts you off. A typical response might include, “You asshole!” You may follow that outburst with a series of thoughts, affirming the idiotic nature of most drivers.
Now, imagine that same scenario, but this time, answer it with a practical and conscious response to growl or scream — without words. This is a practice of not verbalizing anger at someone, but rather finding a “match” for the feelings of fear or anger experienced in the moment.
This requires a real commitment of practice. We are conditioned to respond, and we’re talking about feeling anger, right? And maybe you feel it by screaming at the top of your lungs. However, if you try this practice of nonverbal expression — of shifting the unconscious (anger at someone) to the conscious (YOU are the one feeling anger) — you can still feel the anger all the way through, while familiarizing your body and brain in more gentle and fluid ways.
If you’ve never given yourself the gift of matching your anger with a nonverbal sound and movement, give yourself that gift! It is a powerful way to move energy and begin shifting from blame and criticism to feeling and taking responsibility.
This has been my absolute growth edge.
The challenge and discomfort we have with anger is that it is so damn easy to be lobbed at someone. Consider that particular experience of anger to be unconscious anger.
I am inviting us into a practice of conscious anger. As my teachers Jim Dethmer and Diana Chapman of the Conscious Leadership Group might say, “When we don’t feel our feelings all the way through to completion, be prepared for them to come out sideways, and know that’s when things get really messy.”
You’ve heard me say this before, feeling states only last 90 seconds; moods can last a lifetime.
Don’t be a prisoner of your moods. Be free with your feelings. Once you acknowledge your feelings, you will accept them, be kinder to yourself, and start to understand that feeling good is possible — even when you feel anger too.
Lola Wright is the Spiritual Director at Bodhi Spiritual Center. Raised by hip-hop, Lola provides a fresh and upcoming voice reminding us of our shared humanity.
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