Is There A Healthy Expression Of Anger?

We learn how to hate just the same way we learn how to love. While love is our natural state, our environment and external programming determine how we deal with our negative emotions as well as our capacity to love.

Nelson Mandela said,

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

Anger, resentment, rage, and hatred are blocks to love. Negative emotions come with a lot of judgment or a fear of judgment. Many people do not know how to process these heavy negative emotions. Even those who have fits of rage and outwardly express hate are doing so because that is part of their learned programming, but also because they don’t know how to process their own negative emotions in a healthy way.

Unexpressed anger becomes a cesspool of resentment, which eventually becomes a bout of rage. Eventually, the volcano needs to erupt.

These heavy emotions are becoming harder to hide, contain within, and keep at bay. It is as though a bubbling volcano is ready to erupt. In fact, many people process anger that way. Unexpressed anger becomes a cesspool of resentment, which eventually becomes a bout of rage. Eventually, the volcano needs to erupt. When something happens in our environment that bumps up against our accumulated boiling cesspool of unexpressed feelings, it causes us to blow up. Instead of feeling our own unexpressed feelings, we project them out into the world and cast our anger out as words and/or violence.

Before I explain how we can process this long-held accumulation of negative emotions, I would like to explain the idea of healthy and unhealthy expressions of anger. When I was a child, I was taught that anger was bad—to be angry was to be violent. While I never experienced any physical violence in my own home, I grew to believe that anger equaled violence. My interpretation of that falsehood was that anger was unacceptable and shouldn’t be outwardly expressed. I learned to hold it in and bury it deep inside. I learned to bite my tongue and swallow that bitter pill of resentment.

It wasn’t until I was a student in an experiential counseling program that I learned there were healthy and unhealthy expressions of anger. At first, I was baffled by this idea. It boggled my mind. It was like someone telling me the sky was purple and not blue as I had thought. Then I felt a huge relief as though the world had just been lifted off my shoulder. I could finally learn how to release years of built-up resentment and rage in a healthy way. Mostly, I had directed my rage and hatred toward myself. Self-blame, self-punishment, and self-destructive behaviors were my coping mechanisms. In that moment of realization, while sitting in the counseling program, I had hope that one day I would be free of it. I was determined to release every last bit of anger and resentment. It was interfering with my ability to love and receive love.

So what does a healthy expression of anger look like? This is a question I tried on for years personally as well as exploring it with my clients. I have learned that even if we give ourselves permission to express our anger verbally at the moment that the energy of anger can be processed in as little as fifteen seconds. Something as simple as saying, “I am feeling angry because … ” is sometimes enough to clear it from our mind and body. It is important to just let the thoughts rise up and out as words without censoring them and feel the emotions behind the words. When we do this, the words we say to ourselves are meant to feel emotionally charged; that is how we free ourselves from the anger and upset behind them. Here are some examples of this exercise; you can do it on your own.

 

“I feel angry because no one seems to care about my needs and everyone is so selfish.”

“I feel angry because my parents never loved me the way I wanted them to.”

“I feel angry because my boyfriend is cheating on me.”

“I feel angry because my life is falling apart.”

“I feel angry because no one listens to me.”

Owning how we feel is empowering. There will be times when we also need to voice our upset or anger to others, which means finding the courage to have those sweaty-palm conversations with the individual directly. Alternatively, it could mean talking about how you feel with a trustworthy friend who can hold space for you to express yourself.

One of the most effective tools I offer my clients to move anger and dense long-held emotions, thoughts, and beliefs is an “expression session.”

One of the most effective tools I offer my clients to move anger and dense long-held emotions, thoughts, and beliefs is an “expression session.” This is where I hold space for them to bring all their hidden thoughts and beliefs into the light for healing. They get to share, express, say, yell, scream, growl, swear, and cry; they say whatever they need to say in order to release what they are holding inside. There is no conversation, just a nonjudgmental space for expression. If the anger is directed at a specific person or situation, I encourage my client to use language that makes it sound like they are speaking directly to that individual.

This type of session is extremely cathartic as all the unspoken thoughts and feelings that have been plaguing a person come to the surface and are released. It works well for expressing all of our internal critical thoughts as well. Sharing our negative critical self-talk out loud exposes it and releases it. I often say it is like throwing it all up. I encourage clients to keep going until they feel as though they have emptied it all out, to the point where there is nothing left to say. Most of the time, there is an underlying fear, grief, or a sense of loss hidden beneath the anger. An expression session is a powerful tool that requires a compassionate witness who can be fully present, nonjudgmental, and who won’t get caught up in the words and the story. If you need support in releasing anger or other pent-up feelings, contact me for an expression session.

Another way to release what is bottled up inside you is to write an eff-you letter. It is a letter to the individual that is NOT to be sent. This is for your eyes only. Let it all out and say what you have always wanted to say or need to say. Once you feel you have emptied out all the words onto paper, burn the copy or delete it. I cannot stress this enough—it is for your eyes only! When you burn the letter or delete it, set an intention to let it all go. It may be helpful to follow up your eff-you letter with a forgiveness letter.

Caring AT FORTY FIVEStay tuned next week for chapter 8 ~ When Life Bumps Up Against Your Leftovers

***This is an excerpt from Sue Dumais’ book “Stand UP Stand OUT Stand STRONG ~ A 30 Day Guide to Navigate Life When the SHIFT Hits the Fan” (Published in 2018)

Published on atfortyfive.com with permission from © Sue Dumais

 

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Sue Dumais
Sue Dumais

Sue Dumais is a Global Impact Visionary Leader, best-selling author, international speaker, gifted intuitive healer, Ordained Minister, and inspiration for the “Heart YES Movement.” Sue published her 6th book in January 2019 called The Evolution of the Ego ~ A Journey to Unwind Your Ego, Embrace Your Humanness and Embody Your Divinity. Her previous book—Stand UP Stand OUT Stand STRONG ~ A 30 Day Guide to Navigate Life When the SHIFT Hits the Fan—is proving to be the right book at the right time during our shifting times. Sue brings the gifts of insight and self-empowerment creating a shift in consciousness from head to heart. Sue fosters deep healing and profound awakenings. She guides others to hear, answer, and trust the highest calling of their heart. Sue is passionate about illuminating the path for others as they discover, embrace, and embody their heart YES!

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