Why do you need anger to create fulfilling relationships? You might want to say that anger destroys relationships and I would agree: too much unconscious anger can do that. And in the same way, too little conscious anger can keep you from really being in relationship. This is what is this article is about.
I have learned to be nice and polite and that’s also what I have brought to my relationships. Anger was not ok and I was convinced that I did’t have any. The positive part of it is that I didn’t argue, that I didn’t shout at people and that people usually liked me. But then I wonder why I haven’t been able to lead a committed long-term relationship with a woman. Obviously there are many reasons. One reason is about the downside of „being nice“: I was so busy „pleasing“, meaning fulfilling expressed, unexpressed and even imaginary expectations up to a point that I called „losing myself“: ignoring and even forgetting about what I wanted.
I remember the time with my first girlfriend, when I was completely overwhelmed by the decision if to go out to have an ice cream or to the public swimming pool. It created a knot in my head that I could only answer with „I don’t know, what do you want?, you decide“. I was so afraid of diverging opinions that I didn’t dare to have one. So I wasn’t really there with what I wanted, what I wanted to create, with who I am. That wasn’t really interesting for my partner and hard to bare for myself, so I tended to end relationships so that I could „be myself again“.
What does that have to do with anger? How could anger be of help here? If you find yourself being too nice, adapting to your partner and „losing yourself“ in relationships, you might not have access to your anger. I definitely was lacking it. Anger is the feeling that naturally shows up in your body when something isn’t right for you. It shows you where your boundaries are, what you are willing to put up with and what not. And it comes with the information what you want instead. And what you want independent of anything else. The feeling of anger also includes a lot of energy. I am sure you have experienced this in outbursts of anger in you or in other people. Image what you could do with that, if used consciously. It’s like harnessing the power of lightning or a tornado. If you learn how to feel consciously, you can use this energy to create what you want.
In terms of relating consciously, anger can help you to come back to yourself, get clarity on what you want and need and then show up with this, be visible and start creating the kind of connection you want. This sums up in four steps and each one is quite a journey.
Step 1. Learn how to feel anger: Investigate for yourself if it is ok to feel or not. Why not? Who told you? Try it out to be angry for no reason. Scream and hit a cushion. Try to be angry for a reason. What is it that you don’t want? What are you angry about? For me this was a long and pretty random process that started in mosh pits at heavy-metal concerts, where I didn’t even realize I was expressing anger. It was paused while being a non-violent yogi and meditator and continued in Osho inspired therapy groups, where I learned to express anger and somehow use it to say no and set boundaries. There it stopped until I heard the word „Rage Club“ that was magically attracting me and made me start participating in one, just one day later. This opened a new world to me, summing up my previous experience and complementing it with new distinctions, especially that I can also use anger to say yes and to create.
Step 2. Learn how to use your anger and use it to come back to yourself. Start to take back your center, stay centered and in your own energetic bubble. Take back your authority. Learn to be yourself to be able to connect to other people from where you are, without energetically merging with the other person, sacrificing the I for the we. These are all big concepts, each deserving an own article (you can read the linked websites instead). Basically it is about using anger to draw back your energy from others to yourself, getting a sense for your boundaries, also physically and energetically. I’m just starting to do this, so the stories I can share are very limited. One experience I made was that while I was energetically being too focussed on a women I felt confused and cranky (like being needy and not getting this neediness fulfilled). Once I used my anger to pull my energy back to myself I was able to clearly feel my feelings again. In that case it was sadness, helping me to let go.
Step 3. Dare to use your anger with the person you love. Here, the stories of why it is not ok to feel and express anger come in especially strongly. At least for me. My old story is that if I am angry (let alone express it) I will scare away the person I love and love will disappear. And as so many people see anger as a bad thing, it could actually happen that somebody get triggered and leaves. This seems the appropriate point to bring in the distinction about feelings and emotions: Feelings happen in the moment and are a normal reaction to what you experience. Emotions are old unexpressed feelings from the past that get touched (triggered) by similar situations in the present and lead you to react to the past instead to that what is actually happening. For feelings to be constructive forces in relationships make sure you use feelings, not emotions. This also includes becoming conscious of your emotions so you can put them aside and use them for healing the past wounds (preferably in a healing setting and not in your relationship). The experience I’ve made using the feeling of anger was always transformational. I showed what I did not like and ask for what I wanted instead which created something new. Also I have noticed that I am often very grateful for receiving somebody’s conscious anger, because the reveal themselves and also very often it contained very useful information about myself that helped me to grow.
Step 4. Use your anger to make proposals about what you want. That is the next step out of being reactive to being proactive and therefore creative. It is more about finding and communication what you want to create and invite your partner, friend or colleagues to be part of it. Right now I am experimenting to make at least two proposals a day. I need anger for this, because it’s a very clear and direct way of communicating that my conditioning about being nice is not so keen on. Instead of saying to somebody: „well, maybe we could have dinner sometimes“ I say: „I propose to meet for dinner tomorrow at 7 in Jacob’s restaurant. Are you in?“ It requires the other to make a decision. He or she might feel something about it. I might get a no and I might feel something about this, too. Anger helps me to move with clarity anyway.
Most of this is ongoing research for me. Thank you for joining me in my experiments. If you feel inspired to get in touch with your anger and make use of it to create the life and relationships that you want, check out Rage Club. It’s an online of offline journey with a group of fellow experimenters that will help you to consciously access your anger, wherever your starting point is. Whether you know how to feel already or not, whether you are more the type that tends to explode or tends to hold back, or wherever else you might be.