Anger: What’s mine, what’s yours?

Trying to figure out anger just doesn’t work.   Mostly we want to “figure out” who is to blame for our anger, who “made me angry?”  Along with that, we have a belief that we can only let go of our anger if some other person changes their behaviour;  apologizes, for example, or starts to pick up their socks, or uncross whatever boundary we think that they have crossed.

 

Trying to figure it out is a way of trying to give someone else the responsibility for our anger.  Another way we try to avoid taking responsibility is to try to make the anger go away.  We press it down into our bodies somewhere;  squeezed into our tightly held lower backs, or our shoulders and necks.  We hold back the impulse to strike out, to hit or to kick, and we hold it back by creating a chronic tension in the body.  Well, of course we can’t go around hitting and kicking people.  We learned that when we were two years old, at least most of us did.  And when we first tried shoving those impulses into words, we also learned not to use our words as weapons.  (Think of a five year old calling names;  that gets stopped pretty quickly.)

So we learn quickly that we don’t want to be responsible for this feeling of anger, so we can blame someone for it (“the devil made me do it!”) or we can suppress it in our bodies, and if we get really skilful at suppressing, we can actually REPRESS it, so that we are unaware of the feeling at all.  That actually makes it not a feeling.  We have the body sensations that go with anger but we can’t feel it as anger.  We just feel our heart race, our face flush, our shoulders, backs and jaws tense, and we may have an impulse to say something unpleasant or cutting.  But we don’t label that experience as anger and so we don’t think we actually GET angry.

This is a very deep level of denying of the self.  Your self gets angry.  It is an automatic response to other people crossing your boundaries.  But if you don’t feel it, don’t express it, don’t claim it, you are denying  a part of yourself.

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