Let us consider a few individuals who are recognized for their contributions to peace. The idea of a person being both peaceful and angry may seem contradictory and incompatible. Yet I believe it is helpful and even encouraging for anyone who struggles with being angry to recognize that even some of the most peaceful people to walk this earth have experienced anger and expressed it.
When Jesus cleared the temple of the moneychangers and animal-sellers, He showed great emotion and anger (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; John 2:13-22). Jesus’ emotion was described as “zeal” for God’s house (John 2:17). Another time Jesus showed anger was in the synagogue of Capernaum. When the Pharisees refused to answer Jesus’ questions, “He . . . looked round about them with anger” (Mark 3:5). This verse goes on to give the reason for His anger: “the hardness of their hearts.”
In learning to better embrace and accept myself, I have needed to recognize and accept my anger and even my rage. This has been a huge part of growing and becoming more authentic and real. I grew up repressing any anger I felt. Scary feelings like anger were stuffed away and suppressed. My fears of “rocking the boat” and of not being liked felt very overpowering. There is no doubt that I had the people-pleasing disease.
Freston writes, “According to Dr. John Sarno, the emotion we are most averse to is rage, anger that has gathered steam from being kept down and locked away. A lot of people who think of themselves as good people — Sarno called them “goodists,” because they tend to be very much tied to an image of themselves as nice and good people — do not at all feel comfortable with such a “distasteful” and potentially out-of=control emotion as rage. If something happens in their life that sparks intense anger, these people tend not to deal with it, because they don’t like what it brings up in them…
…A goodist might well submerge his true feelings because he doesn’t want to rock the boat. He convinces himself that he has “let it go” when, in fact, by not allowing himself to experience his authentic emotions, they have just done unconscious. When we don’t think we can handle something in a way that feels safe and manageable –ie., if we speak up, we might lose a relationship or job or, even worse, be thought of as a bad person — our survival mechanism kicks in and buries the feeling in the recesses of our psyche. Those disowned feeling become part of our shadow.”
The book then delves into how suppressing the shadow becomes the goal. “As Dr, Sarno put it, the brain is in cahoots with the body in such a way that when the repulsive emotion starts to come up, the body will quickly conjure an intense localized pain or discomfort that is big enough to make us forget what we were beginning to feel. Basically, the brain says, “Whoa! I can’t let myself feel that rage. It threatens my identity as a good and nice person. Good and nice people do not have rage; it is unseemly and out of control.” The book points out that the mind and body will work together to save us from disturbing experiences. It also points out that since we prefer to see ourselves in a certain light “we tuck away what we think is repulsive or frightening or disagreeable. But, because or nature is to evolve and become ever more enlightened, the part of us that is dark will constantly try to come to light.”
Further on the author explains that “Once we make peace with our demons — be they rage or fear or shame, and we all have them — we become more fully integrated human beings…
…When you go about this process of allowing your emotions without judgment, you will be led into your Truth. Ask yourself if there is anger — rage even — that you need to connect with and then heal. Allow yourself to drop into deep sadness or grief even if your normal instinct is to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and “get over it.”
“Anger is fuel. We feel it and we want to do something. Hit someone, break something, throw a fit, smash a fist into the wall, tell those bastards. But we are nice people, and what we do with our anger is stuff it, deny it, bury it, block it, hide it, lie about it, medicate it, muffle it, ignore it. We do everything but listen to it.
Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected. Why? Because anger is a map. Anger shows us what our boundaries are. Anger shows us where we want to go. It lets us see where we’ve been and lets us know when we haven’t liked it. Anger points the way, not just the finger. In the recovery of a blocked artist, anger is a sign of health.
Anger is meant to be acted upon. It is not meant to be acted out. Anger points the direction. We are meant to use anger as fuel to take the actions we need to move where our anger points us. With a little thought, we can usually translate the message that our anger is sending us.
‘Blast him! I could make a better film than that!’ (This anger says: you want to make movie. You need to learn how.)
‘I can’t believe it! I had this idea for a play three years ago and she’s gone and written it.’ (This anger says: stop procrastinating. Ideas don’t get opening nights. Finished plays do. Start writing.)
‘That’s my strategy he’s using. This is incredible! I’ve been ripped off! I knew I should have pulled that material together and copyrighted it.’ (This anger says: it’s time to take your own ideas seriously enough to treat them well.)
When we feel anger, we are often very angry that we feel anger. Damn anger!! It tells us we can’t get away with our old life any longer. It tells us that old life is dying. It tells us we are being reborn, and birthing hurts. The hurt makes us angry.
Anger is the firestorm that signals the death of our old life. Anger is the fuel that propels us into our new one. Anger is a tool, not a master. Anger is meant to be tapped into and drawn upon. Used properly, anger is use-full.
Sloth, apathy, and despair are the enemy. Anger is not. Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend. Not a gentle friend. But a very, very loyal friend. It will always tell us when we have been betrayed. It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves. It will always tell us that it is time to act in our own best interests.”
Anger is not he action itself. It is action’s invitation.”
I also found wisdom about anger in Ed and Deb Shapiro’s article entitled “Ducks Don’t Do Anger” which appeared in the October 30, 2008 issue of the Huffington Post. They write “Trying to eradicate anger is like trying to box with our own shadow, it doesn’t work. Getting rid of it implies either expressing it and creating emotional damage, or repressing it, which just suppresses it until it erupts at a later time. Getting to know and make friends with anger is essential. To make real change we have to change the way we think and react. This is growing roses out of rotting compost, transforming fire into constructive action, using the passion but without the destruction. We need to see what is beneath the anger, what hurt, longing or fear is trying to make itself heard. There may be feelings of rejection, grief or loneliness, so if we repress anger or pretend it isn’t there then all these other feelings get repressed and ignored as well.”