Spiritual Anger Management: I recently had an email conversation with long time student of the LP. For a long time this fellow has had an issue with anger and rage. It is a problem for him. It comes up, and when it does he feels ugly. Then, pushes it down and represses it. The problem, I suppose, is that the anger hasn’t gone away. It just sits there, buried inside, and boils up every once in a while making him feel disjuncture, and creating disconnection.
Of course, he is not the only person to have anger issues. On this planet a lot of people (even a lot of spiritually minded people) have anger issues, even rage issues. I remember years ago watching a mother on our block express bitter and violent rage at her only son. Despite the pretty quartz crystals in her Tibetan singing bowls, and despite the beautiful stone angels in her front porch, she was obviously a very angry person, as are a lot of people. Of course, a lot of people will deny, or pretend; but behind the closed doors of the modern world family, anger, bitterness, disconnection, and even rage figure prominently into the energetic mix.
And why is that?
It comes down to The System basically, but it revolves around confusion and misconception. As spiritual minded people, or just people in general, we have no idea what anger is all about. We know it is an emotion, and we know it can be powerful; but beyond that, we often don’t want to have anything to do with it. If you are a spiritual person and you are angry, you are supposed to forgive and forget, let go, and not be angry. If you are a scientific person, you are supposed to be rationale and logical. Nobody likes to see an angry person (unless their anger is directed at the “opposing team”) and so in the Pleasantville of our daily lives, we cover over our anger, pretend it is not there. you are pissed off and angry, the message is always the same. The priests and the prophets (and sometimes the psychologists) wag their fingers and tell you that if you want to be a spiritual person, if you want to be evolved, if you want to “fit in,” if you don’t want to look weak, feminine, and out of control, you need to keep that anger bottled up and suppressed. And so we do, pretending we’re not pissed off and putting on a show just for our friends and neighbors to see.
This is a problem, of course, and the problem with this is simple. Suppressing your anger is neither spiritual, nor scientific, nor rationale; besides, it doesn’t ever work. Repression and sublimation of your anger is no way to deal with anger. Just ask all the victims of stroke and heart attack, all the physically abused women, or the emotionally abused men, of this world. If you are mad at something, then no matter how hard you try and repress it, the anger will eventually come out. Either you will internalize it and it will come out as a assault on your own bodily system (e.g. your angry energy will toxify your body and make you more prone to disease and illness, like cancer), or you will externalize it and find some outside [often innocent] target at which to be mad at. Neither approach is wise or healthy spiritual anger management.
So what do you do with anger? Well, in order to understand how to deal properly with anger you first have to understand the purpose of anger, what it was designed for, and how to use it properly, and that is easy. Anger was designed by Consciousness to help protect the physical unit. Anger is a protection mechanism. Anger is triggered in the physical unit when the physical unit is being hurt. The hurt can be physical, emotional, psychological, or even spiritual — it doesn’t matter. If the physical unit is being hurt, anger begins to arise. Why? Because anger gives the body the energy and the motivation to stop the hurt and prevent damage.
Do a little thought experiment with me now.
Imagine you are sitting in a chair and I am standing in front of you. Suddenly I step forward and stomp on your toe not once, not twice, but repeatedly. How do you react? If your body, mind, and emotions are healthy and responding correctly, after the initial surprise that a spiritual teacher like me would start trying to break your toes, your body would naturally get mad. Hormones would pump into your bloodstream, energy from your solar chakra would coalesce into a ball, your crown chakra would light up getting you ready for action, and you’d jump up and angrily shove me off. That is what you would do; that is what you should do. Anger is there to help the body protect itself from damage. When your body is being damaged, whether physically, emotionally, or psychologically, your body gets angry.
As you can see, anger is not a bad emotion. Anger is a useful one, an evolutionary one. If somebody is violating the boundaries of the the body, the body naturally reacts to that, and there is nothing you can do to stop that from happening. Anger is biological, genetic, activated automatically, and 100% functional for the physical unit if you deal it with it properly. And dealing with it properly means simply and always, stopping the hurt. In the case of me smashing your toes this involves taking the ball of energy created by the body’s emotion of anger and using that to shove me back so I don’t break your toes. Do that and the assault stops, the anger dissipates, and life goes on. In the case of emotional assaults, anger should be used to stop the emotional assaults.
Simple. But, the problem is, it doesn’t work like this for most people. For most people anger is something bad, something evil, something primitive, something that has caused them pain in the past, and something to be repressed. There’s something wrong with angry people, says the psychologist. It is primitive and ape like, says the scientist. It is un-godlike and un-worthy, says the priests and the prophets. Forgive and forget, say the priest. If you want to be a good person, accept all that is and put up with the shit and abuse. That’s the message we get. But that message is bullshit and listening to those people speak their bullshit isn’t going to make you a spiritual person, it is going to make you a damaged one. If you do nothing, if you suppress your anger, you are going to be damaged as a direct result of the assaults, and damaged by the internalization or externalization of the energies which you can’t simply wish away.
So what are you going to do? Well, if you want my advice, quit listening to the priests, gurus, and prophets who tell you to turn the other cheek, look the other way, forgive, forget, and move on. We tried it and now we know, turning the other cheek doesn’t work. Things haven’t gotten better as a result because anger simply doesn’t work that way. Anger is not a negative and destructive emotion, that is just propaganda. Anger is a positive and life affirming emotion(!) because when we get angry we are essentially driven to say, quit damaging me, quit violating me, quit hurting me.
Having said all this, this isn’t to say that you should become all hate filled and violent. That’s not the answer either. If you get angry and hurt others, you’re just going to generate more anger and hurt. If you are angry at something or someone, express that anger in a positive, effective, and life affirming way so it doesn’t build up and cause damage. And when I say positive and life affirming, I mean positive and life affirming. Do only what you need to do to stop the boundary violation. If somebody is stepping on your toes, push them off, but don’t beat them down. If they don’t stop, don’t let the anger build up until it explodes, and don’t lash out in reciprocal violence; remove yourself from their sphere of influence. There is a right way to express anger, a way that is in alignment with your compassionate, conscious, and aware higher self, and a wrong way. If you express anger the wrong way you move towards disjuncture and disconnection, and you become part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Finally, remember this; if being a spiritual person is your goal, the most important thing you can do is protect the vehicle that your spirit expresses in. You can’t be spiritual with a damaged body, damaged emotional responses, or damaged cognition. So use anger to help you with that. Treat your body right and expect others to treat it right as well. When they don’t, when the cauldron of anger starts to churn and roll causing toil and your trouble, aim it at the person causing the violation and use that energy to either stop the violation, or get yourself out of dodge. Anything else and you are acting like a chump for the System.
I am Michael Sharp