Fire can be a powerful and creative tool for cooking, welding, and building warmth when used carefully and with proper intention. Or it can just as easily become a vehicle of destruction and pain, if used without temperance, awareness, and forethought. The inner fire of your anger is no different than a wood burning stove, and can actually nourish you if you allow it to bless you with its gifts of right boundaries, honor, and self-esteem. When the natural integrity of your unique system is compromised, anger clears up the blurry edge of where you end and others begin. Plainly, it let’s you know what needs to be protected..* When anger’s hot flame makes an appearance, we commonly see three learned styles for working with the fierce emotion.
One, is to explode with it, in a toxic, stinging expression, making an unclear mess of the truth of your anger and draining your energy, while possibly burning yourself and others in the process. Irrational fears about not being valued and toxic anger patterns modeled early on about what we are supposed to do with anger can contribute to this kind of reaction.
A second possibility is to suppress the anger and the often intense sensation of heat accompanying it, thereby pushing down the important truth you are feeling. When we do this, we can lose our sense of self and our healthy passion and fire for life. Unhealthy shame models we picked up and fears about expressing our anger are responsible for this automatic self-repressive approach.
Most of us have experienced both of these ways of dealing with the natural, yet sometimes overwhelming feeling of anger, especially if we have not had adequate education and modeling about how to express it in a positive + constructive way.
But there is a third, more empowering approach to experiencing our anger. In order to enjoy the natural gifts of anger, we need a balance of both healthy shame, which keeps us from stepping on unnecessary toes, and healthy anger, which keeps guards our honor and space. Toxic shame is when we feel it is not ok to be ourselves, or that being our natural selves in a situation is wrong. Too much toxic shame or toxic anger, or not enough healthy shame or healthy anger can easily upset this balance.*
But with the right balance of healthy, free-to-flow emotion, we can allow that fire to c i r c u l a t e throughout our system, without fear, and feed us with the information we so need. *Practicing feeling, expressing, breathing and moving with anger and healthy shame now, before you’re set off and feeling the pressure, will set you up with confidence for successfully cooking with anger in the future.
.* Parts 2 + 3 are next, and will include inspiring questions and expressive exercises to help you get closer and more comfortable moving with your anger in an embodied way. My hope is that you enjoy this powerful emotion as an incredible gift, ripe with opportunity and catalytic support for what you want in your life. Anger is a really a truer friend than we might think !