Many women don’t allow our anger. We invalidate ourselves or avoid it at all costs. Especially women following a spiritual path…somehow, we consider anger a “negative” emotion, when in fact, it is an emotion that can inspire us and motivate us. It can actually serve as fuel if we will allow ourselves to feel it and take action that’s in alignment with our inner sense of justice. Women, we NEED our anger. We have every right to be angry. Unfortunately, we tend to either talk ourselves out of it, stuff it, invalidate it or lash out unexpectedly for no reason but it’s a delayed response to something that pissed us off.
Anger happens. It isn’t a choice. It can be a catalyst. But are we going to let the anger control us or are we going to control and direct it?
My husband says women can process anger better than men. But I don’t know that it’s being processed. It’s being shoved down. After I found out that my then 4-year-old son was molested, I lost my mind. I screamed to the sky. I cried to my husband. I shook and I raged. But I didn’t know what to do with all of it. So I didn’t do much. I called Child Protective Services and reported it. I scheduled help for our son at the Sunflower House. I talked to my close friends, desperate to understand what had just happened. But the action I took felt like nothing compared to the intensity of my emotions. And so it burned me up. It boiled in my esophagus, felt like I drank a gallon of whiskey any time I ate so I couldn’t eat. I wanted to punch walls, punch the people who allowed this to happen. I found that I didn’t know how to feel the intensity of my rage without it burning me completely up so I misused it.
Misuse of Anger
- Stuff it
- Talk ourselves out of it
- Invalidate the feeling
- Scurry away from the feeling as quickly as we can
- Lash out at someone close to us
- Road rage
- Become impatient with our kids, ourselves, our spouses
- Eat rather than feel
- Numb it with substances
- Scrutinize ourselves to try and discover what’s lurking in our “shadow” that would cause us to be angry at another person and blame ourselves for our anger response. Introspection and misplaced accountability rather than simply acknowledging our anger
- Blame ourselves somehow
- Become apathetic
- Convince ourselves that it doesn’t matter and nothing would change if we voiced our anger anyway
- Allow it to fester until it becomes a physical dis-ease within ourselves
- Fear of our own anger
- Fear of losing control of ourselves
- Fear that if we feel it, it will become completely unmanageable.
So what do we do with our anger? We need to take action. Let the anger galvanize us. I write in order to process my emotions. When I publish a piece for the public to read and it tells part of my story and what happened to my son and to me, I feel vindicated. I feel that I’ve told someone. I feel that at least I’m on record with the truth.
Validating my own anger, my own response rather than looking outside of myself for how I should feel and respond has been crucial to my process. How do we do this?
How to Work with Anger
- Acknowledge what you are feeling.
- Sit with it. Don’t try to rationalize it or talk yourself out of it.
- It can be helpful to sit with your journal and write “I feel…”. Let it pour out.
- Ask yourself what, if anything, you need to do. What action is the fire of anger calling for?
- Let it inform you. Engage with it as a Messenger. What is your Anger here to tell you?
- Find a safe space with a friend or family member to talk about what is bothering you. This person should be able to hold space for you without trying to talk you out of what you are feeling or make suggestions of what you “should” do.
- Communicate. See Conscious Communication for great ways to prep for a conscious conversation.
We’ve got to learn how to work with our anger if we are to be empowered women. This isn’t about running around griping all the time or perceiving offenses that no one intended. But it is about working with anger as a fuel, a dynamic energy that can help us move forward on our path in way that values our emotions for the internal soul guidance they continually offer.