Power of Anger
by Helem Valeau
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most of us, anger is an emotion to fear in others and ourselves.
Anger is often viewed as something we must be in control of at
all times because the consequences of expressing our anger seem
too great. Sometimes we fear that we will lose control of our
anger and hurt someone we love. Sometimes we use our anger to
control others feeling that we somehow gain power in situations
where we feel powerless. There are two types of anger: historical
anger and appropriate anger. Historical anger is anger that shows
up as an over-reaction to behaviours or situations and we lose
power and control of ourselves. Because its roots are in our past,
it takes us back to being a child, and we often hurt others and
ourselves emotionally or physically. Appropriate anger helps us
to recognize that a particular situation is not safe, or healthy,
or something we do not like and can assist us in setting up healthy
like other emotions such as happiness, excitement, sadness and
fear, gives us information about ourselves. Our emotions orient
us in our world and give us another dimension to our wisdom. As
children, we have an inherent ability to access and experience
this wide range of feelings without judging or thinking about
them. It is through the admonitions from parents and others such
as, "don't be angry, sad, cry, too loud, too excited , etc.,"
that we learn it is not appropriate to feel and express what we
are experiencing in the moment. The message that is sent to us
through these admonitions is that there is something wrong with
me, "I am wrong translates into core shame," for feeling
and expressing my emotions. Rather than feel this "core shame,"
I begin to judge my feelings as good or bad and attempt to feel
only the ‘good' feelings and discount or stuff away the
‘bad' feelings, including anger.
is not a primary feeling; it is a reaction to a primary feeling.
As children, our parents consciously or unconsciously criticized,
embarrassed, humiliated, rejected us. We felt hurt and become
angry. If we were not allowed to say, "Stop that, you're
hurting me." We then became angry. But it is too scary for
us as children to express our anger to Mom and Dad. Often the
messages we received is that expression of anger is not acceptable.
As children, we desperately need Mom and Dad's love in order to
survive. We are powerless as children and our parents are our
lifelines to the outside world. We will do anything to keep their
love and attention. Therefore, we repress our anger causing it
to become stored in our bodies.
historical anger that has been stored in our bodies, often since
childhood, is what becomes the "monster in the closet"
we fear. It is this historical anger that erupts when we feel
disempowered by another. It takes us back to being a small child
and we become hysterical, out of control and over react. We often
end up as angry, blaming victims. Everything seems to be happening
to us and we feel powerless. As a result, we also tend to blame
others for our experiences.
it be nice to have the ability to feel your anger and not lose
power? This can happen when we are willing to own all of our feelings
and start to feel them instead of judging them as unimportant
or wrong. We can begin to understand the messages our emotions
are giving us. If we are feeling hurt, betrayed, frustrated or
insignificant in any way, it is important to take some time to
acknowledge precisely what we are feeling. Then it is helpful
to trace the experience back to our childhood and become aware
of when we felt like this as a child. Taking some time to journal
about the childhood experience will help to deepen the understanding
of what was happening at that time. This gives us space to then
look at the present situation and become aware that perhaps our
anger is misplaced.
children, we believe we are the cause of our parents' anger. We
have done something wrong or we just are not good enough to meet
our parents' expectations and that is why Mom and/or Dad are angry
with us. As adults when we experience another's anger, we either
take it on as if it is our fault or become defensive and rebellious.
Either way, we are not authentically empowered. Therefore, it
is impossible for us to meet the other in an emotionally adult
place and realize we have choice regarding how to respond, instead
of reacting and giving our power away to the situation or other
can be incredibly liberating to realize we are not the cause of
another's anger and we do not have to lose power by allowing our
past hurts and anger to run our lives. Allowing ourselves to identify
and experience all our emotions including anger, will put us on
the path towards healing our wounds and propel us into a powerful,
compassionate, loving, authentic adulthood. Anger will then become
a messenger for healing instead of something to fear.
Valleau is a Supervising Teacher of the Hoffman Quadrinity Process
in Canada. To obtain further information and availability, please
call 1-800-741-3449 and visit www.hoffmaninstitute.ca
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