Anger hides in us in many guises. Often it is shrouded in sorrow or regret; depression is a common cloak. Even a sharp tongue and impatience may be clues as to the deeper reality of our feelings.
When anger is expressed in the moment that it arises, it leaves swiftly, as it has no need to hide. It has spoken its truth and left. For most of us, such expression of anger is rare. We learned early on that we secure a more reasonable response from those around us if we withhold our anger. At least, withhold the outer expression, no-one told us what to do with it once we have held it in our self.
We are designed for survival and our body believes it is keeping us safe when it skilfully stores those molecules of angry emotion in our organs. Meanwhile our rational self congratulates us for behaving decently and honourably and all those other things that nice people do.
Some of us on our journey discover ways to express this powerful emotion more healthily. Maybe we liberate it by going for a run or we vent with friends who help us make sense of what we are processing. Most though will bury at least part of what they feel somewhere deep inside, not realising that whatever we hide within, will always, somehow, speak to us again in times ahead.
So it is we unwittingly build layers of comfort around our anger, sometimes with food and addictions that numb us from this pain. We fail to realise that this craving for treats that literally makes our life sweeter for some brief moments, or this malaise, this lack of engagement in life, or this inability to be still or spend time alone, is the language of a voice that demands expression. It speaks to us in many ways, and we are talented at choosing not to hear it.
Very often in a session when I clear the first emotions that I witness, anger surfaces from beneath. It is as if these other emotions are somehow more acceptable and bearable than the rage we feel. We may be grieving the loss of our beloved and feel paralysed by sorrow, yet buried beneath is our anger that they have left us, our rage that God did not cure them, our fury that we did not do more and that we have to go on alone and feed and clothe the children that we were supposed to raise together. Guilt stops us from speaking our truths, as do our beliefs that as a nice person we should not make such complaints. After all, they died; we still live, surely we have no right to complain let alone be angry.
Clearing this anger is not about right and wrong, good or bad. It is our emotional response from a place of truth and, as such, deserves acknowledgement and release. I see so many depressed, addicted, anxious, exhausted, sick clients feel a new ease when their anger is unearthed and released. That this can be done without judgement and without the need to re-live the root cause makes the liberation all the more freeing. Sometimes it is as easy as going to sleep after a session one evening and waking up the next morning with a new lightness, an unfamiliar ease replacing that dull heaviness (or agitation) that they were resigned would accompany them always. Releasing anger need not involve shouting from a hill top or thumping pillows; there are more peaceful ways to restore harmony.
Whilst I am no longer surprised when I discover anger, often in the most unexpected places, I do not go looking for it. I simply show up willing to honour it and hear its needs if it is shown to me. Until we learn to better manage anger in the moment it arises, we must be alert to clearing it from where we hold it in our bodies. Otherwise, in time, the organs where we hide it will demand our attention more forcibly. Sadly, for most of us it is only then that we pay more close attention; would that we learned to honour our needs much earlier!