One of the hardest things about being in a profession where you are supposed to help other people sort through their “stuff” is that you have to work really hard at sorting out your own “stuff”.
One of the biggest pieces of stuff I have is ANGER and I’d really rather not deal with it all.
Like most people on the planet I’ve lots to be angry about over the years. People have hurt me with their actions and lack of action but most of the time no one, but my dearest friends, would even know I was angry. That is because I am a master at hiding it and stuffing down inside my heart.
That stuffing down or suppression of my anger often manifests in depression but that is a worse feeling than anger so I’ve tried to learn to dissect my anger and do some work on it over the past few years.
A therapist who helped me begin this process suggested anger is really not a feeling and every time I said I was angry she asked what I was really feeling. She would have agreed with this article I found by Heather Step about the “Three Roots of Anger”. According to both of them, anger is founded in fear, frustration or hurt and pain.
When I went to visit my Spiritual Director the other day he helped me peel away another layer of the anger onion and suggested that rather than pushing away my anger or denying it I “sit with it and feel it”. Oh! the agony. How I hate to feel the feelings of anger.
Most of us who live with depression have become so good at denying feelings that actually identifying how we feel is a very difficult task. Most days we need one of those little, emoticon “Feeling Charts” just to figure out what is actually going on within our hearts.
The biggest issue with anger for me is expressing it. Fear is often behind that because I’m afraid someone will not understand, they will hate me, they will never want to see me again or I will hurt their feelings. There are those very real situations of fear or expression where jobs, homes and relationships are at stake. The only time I’m really good at expressing my anger to those who have hurt me is when I just don’t care any longer. Speaking my truth becomes more important that what it is I’m afraid of. This is not a good thing.
What I really need to learn is to examine my anger in the moment to those who have caused me hurt, frustration or fear. That brings me back to my great quest of learning to live in the moment. It is certainly easier said than done.
I had a visit with a friend yesterday who is so good at speaking her truth and expressing her anger. She speaks to the issues in “real time” and is able to think clearly and articulate her frustration without being hurtful. She is “matter of fact” and doesn’t get all emotional like me.
This is going to take some serious practice so if you find I’m out of character and telling you what I think, know that I’m just practising positive anger.