Anger is not a “bad” emotion
Anger is an emotion that I have easily accessed compared to others. It was not a feeling that I was conditioned to believe that I had to suppress. As a young adult, I remember feeling anger in my body and not understanding where it was coming from - only that I felt it deeply within me. I found ways to leverage anger to my advantage - mostly by pushing myself physically harder when I was training for something or mentally harder when I was trying to achieve something.
Growing up, anger was one emotion that was role modelled very differently by each of my parents. When my father felt angry (frustrated) he would fully feel it and explode however he needed to (it’s how I learned my repertoire of swear words!). When the emotion was out of his system, he could carry on with life. It was quick. It was full-on. Then it was gone. We learned to get out of the way and give him the space he needed in those moments.
My mother was the complete opposite. She would hold in her anger and it would build up within her system. Months later, without warning, she would finally explode and it was a shock! It was unexpected because there was no feedback that “we had pushed her too far” (note: with the wisdom I have now, I would reframe this to “she contributed to being pushed too far by not setting her necessary boundaries and giving us feedback)”. I found this confusing - we had no idea that she was feeling angry until she finally let loose!
I adopted my Father’s style - fully feel it immediately and move through it as quickly as possible - I was not always graceful! I would say I was..
OK, OK, I still am at times... ‘fiery’ ....
but in healthy ways because I retrained myself to drop into awareness and I have the ability to witness and watch myself while feeling angry.
Today - when I feel angry, I immediately leverage it into PASSION and PURPOSE.
Why am I writing this?
Some of us are raised to suppress emotions or to feel ashamed of having the “negative” ones. We are told to be happy, be positive - as if there are right or wrong emotions.
One of the gifts of being human is access to a full range of emotions that offer us valuable feedback IF WE PAY ATTENTION, IF WE STAY VERY PRESENT AND WITNESS WHAT THE EMOTION IS TRYING TO SHOW US.
It's the stories attached to the emotions that cause us to spiral into our suffering.
I have trained myself to fully feel an emotion, shift through the story that is arising and to come through the other side into a new understanding of myself and others.
It used to take me 90 days, not 90 minutes, to work through the trigger.
Underneath anger (and other emotions) is a spectrum of deeper emotions. For my system, grief is what hides under my anger. Usually over a perceived loss - of time, of a relationship, of an experience, of an opportunity of the way things “should be.”
Through my InnerGuidance journey I began to realize that I had core beliefs and stories attached to my emotions - especially anger. One of my favourite old stories is the “it’s unfair” story.
I feel like [this means I'm already in my story] what is happening is unfair.
Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?
I don’t want this experience to make me lose ________.
With a trigger that happened recently, it’s been many years of letting go and learning to accept the loss of a relationship. The fantasy of how I wanted that friendship to look was very different to the reality of what it could ever be due to our unconscious projections onto each other. It took years, but I finally learned to understand the other person's deep core wounds and the core lies they believe about themselves and others.
This is how I found a sliver of compassion.
And then, I learned to set boundaries by tapping into fierce compassion. The one that says "NO, this is NOT OK. I am not willing to engage with you if you behave and treat me this way."
Slowly, I was able to not take things personally. This person would threaten me and would try their hardest to hurt me in any way possible. What I could see was their inner child blinded by the illusion of the protective ego's lies.
I used all the InnerGuidance tools I was equipped with to unravel everything that was left of the story of our friendship. Once I was no longer playing my own victim story, once I claimed back my power by empowering myself, they could no longer affect me and no longer hurt me, not really.
How I bring anger into the body as a somatic experience
Now, when I feel angry, I immediately drop into my body to really feel how the anger is presenting itself.
My jaws clench tighter than usual. My heart races. My body shakes. My breathing becomes shallower. My fists clench. My mind may silently scream every swear word I know - in English and in Spanish!
This is my cue that I need to find the space to be on my own.
I give it to myself as soon as I can. If it’s going to take time, I promise my body “I feel you. I need ______ amount of time before I can fully go into what you are showing me.”
How I actually process anger has evolved over the years.
Now, I need to fully feel it in my body through movement. This means I will hit the road for a run, jump on my stationary bike, use my punch bag or I will simply put on music that matches my anger...and I will dance.
As I’m moving, I scan my body - where am I feeling the anger the most?
My jaws, my neck, my shoulders
My heart - it feels tight and contracted.
My shoulders raised and rounded forward as they guard and protect my heart.
My neck is stiff and I already have a headache.
My jaws are clenched tighter than usual.
I will fully go into these key areas and invite in even more contraction, more tension while speaking to it - “I feel you. I feel you. What do you need? More contraction? More tension?”
Now I’m having a conversation with the feeling, not the story.
I’ll invite in the breath - to match what I’m feeling. It could be fast breathing in and out through the nose. It could be slow deep breaths.
I’ll firmly ground into my feet, preferably somewhere in Nature (it's hard to feel angry when surrounded by the truth of Nature - even if your system is "stubborn").
I’ll invite movement in the legs. I’ll jump or bounce up and down, really feeling the sensation on the soles of my feet against the ground, the rocks, the grass, the floor.
I’ll tell myself: “I’m firmly grounded and supported. I’m safe.”
Then I’ll invite in the hips. Now the focus in the body shifts to my life force energy. Moving the hips side to side, back and forth, in spirals. I’ll repeat to myself “I’m safe.”
When the hips soften and relax, I’ll invite the energy up into the diaphragm. Here is where it starts to feel stuck as it begins to resist the invitation to move into my heart space.
I’ll hear a voice that says “No, I’m too angry to open my heart.”
Now a conscious inner conversation begins to happen between the present me as “the witness” with the voice of “the victim”. Now we go into the story I have attached to the feeling of anger.
“OK, I hear you. What if we open the heart just a little? Maybe we can stretch our arms a little, roll our shoulders back just a little and ever so slightly stretch our arms out to the side? You can keep your fists closed.”
“OK, but only a little,” the victim voice says.
The tightness in the heart easing ever so subtly. I stay here, still moving the body.
“A little more? Can we unclench the fists?”
“Yes” (with a slight pout).
I will play with the energy here - gently inviting it to move around the heart space. It takes patience as my body negotiates - yes or no.
When it’s ready to move up, I’ll invite in sound. Does it want to scream silently? Shout out loudly? Does it want to sing?
I’ll invite it into the crown of the head. There we go, connection to source. Now there’s no “me.” Just awareness moving.
The heart softens.
The arms fully stretch out, the shoulders and neck relax.
Now the true inner negotiation is ready to happen.
What does it need me to understand?
It’s sad that it will lose something that it should have or deserves to have.
Is it really about whether you should have it or deserve to have it?
No - it’s really about the other person’s story. They are playing out their victim story - that what’s happening is unfair to them - and it’s triggering my SAME story - that what’s happening is unfair to me because I'm not getting what I want and they are.
Ah, yes. And it seems like they are being rewarded for their victim story? That they’re "getting away" with it?
Yes! It feels unfair. I gave up my victim story and now I'm not getting what I want.
More opening in the heart.
Do you want to go back to living your old story? The core belief that life is unfair, life will only ever just be OK, that the Universe works against you and not for you?
No. I can’t - because I know it’s untrue.
Are they really "getting away" with living their victim story? Will there not be consequences on their health and their entire perception of life?
Can you find compassion for their fear of losing the only identity they have ever known, for their incapacity to step out of the illusion that they are not responsible for their own suffering?
Do you see how they blame others and don’t take responsibility for their co-creations? Do you see how, at times, you blame the same person they do for what you are both experiencing?
There it is. The connection. This person is showing me about where my own patterns are still not fully shifted. It’s not about them...it’s about me.
Ugh, this trigger is actually a gift!!!
Can their story really hurt me? Can I really lose anything/something? No.
Can I find even a sliver of compassion for this person? Yes.
I can find even more. I can open my heart even more and see them beyond their story. This compassion is fierce - it still requires the necessary boundaries around what I am (not) accepting into my life.
Now I stand there - heart, arms and body wide open. Engulfed by LOVE itself. That’s all there ever is.
Now the shift into the underlying emotion under the anger...grief.
It was grief - that it should’ve been a different way.
The grieving was coming from the ego that can’t accept the reality that we are unconsciously operating from our limited stories.
The Conscious Negotiator
In less than 90 minutes, here’s what I could see and shift through by consciously negotiating with myself:
The trigger is because this person and I have a similar lack story.
Where we differ and why I can tap into compassion quickly is because:
I have given myself freedom.
How can we feel anger, shift through the story and find compassion?
We must be aware of our own patterns, our lack stories, our (underlying) emotions and our unconscious reactions.
We train ourselves to witness and ask “what is the narrative or the story I'm telling myself right now?”
CONSCIOUS INNER NEGOTIATION
This is where InnerGuidance teaches you how to consciously negotiate with all aspects of yourself.
Here’s the secret: we are only ever negotiating with ourselves in life!
Here’s the thing about triggers: The illusion is that there is someone out there or a situation (ie an external factor) that is making you angry. This is a lie!
That person or that situation is triggering your pattern, your ego, your limiting story. Dig deeper and you’ll find the lesson, the insight and the learning opportunity.
And when you can simultaneously find compassion for yourself and the trigger (the other person) then you, my friend, are a rockstar!