Of all the emotions I help my clients reclaim, anger is the one they have the hardest time allowing – by far.
Not surprising since from the time we’re young we learn that anger is bad.
That we shouldn’t feel it.
That if we express it we’re a bitch, unreasonable, or too demanding.
That it hurts others.
That it hurts us.
That we should be kind and loving and accommodating and rational, that we should see others point of view, be a “light” in the world, and put everyone else in our lives before ourselves.
No one ever told us what to do with that feeling of anger in our body. They just told us we shouldn’t have it or judged and punished us for expressing it.
And on top of that, it makes perfect sense that most of us are afraid of anger given the pain, damage, and destruction we have seen it cause.
Our anger has been driven underground and we have lost access to a powerful emotion whose primary purpose is to protect, preserve, and restore.
And our bodies are paying the price!
Most women are understandably confused about how to feel anger, and because they don’t know HOW to feel it they aren’t able to access it’s positive power. On top of that unsuccessful attempts at allowing anger (that focus on expressing anger rather than feeling it) can reinforce their fears about allowing it at all.
So, basically we end up with a boatload of misunderstandings about the nature of anger, how to feel it, and what it means when we do feel it – which cut us off from a huge source of our power – for healing and for change.
Anger is Big Energy
Anger is BIG energy. When we know how to work with that energy, it is BIG POSITIVE energy. And when we don’t it is BIG NEGATIVE energy.
Here are the ways it turns into BIG NEGATIVE energy:
- Suppressing anger, out of fear and cultural conditioning is EXHAUSTING and creates chronic tension, pain, and fatigue. (BIG NEGATIVE ENERGY)
- Expressing anger (ie. dumping, yelling, arguing, justifying, or convincing) – rather than tapping into that big energy to strengthen us and our ability to protect, preserve, and restore – discharges the energy out of our body – which weakens us and our boundaries. (Again, BIG NEGATIVE ENERGY)
On the other hand, when anger is flowing unobstructed in our body it makes us feel vibrant and alive. It brings us incredible wisdom and clarity and the strength to stand for our truth – whether that is making time to take care of ourselves, or speaking up about things that are important to us.
Imagine trying to plug up a high-pressure hose with a cork. When you’re allowing the water to flow you’ve got some power that you can use. But if you try to stop up the hose and hold back that water it will take a lot of energy!
Holding back anger in your body is like turning on a high-pressure hose and trying to block it up with a cork.
And this happens virtually all day long in countless ways for many women.
Instead of harnessing all that energy and power, you end up using an incredible amount of energy and tension to hold it all back. (And that’s the case even if you’re letting it out occasionally).
The bottom line: Cutting women off from their power through shaming and judging them out of their own anger keeps them weak, disconnected, and in pain – not to mention unable to use their power to create positive change.
It’s time to EMBRACE your anger and learn how to feel it – re-access that power and use it to heal your own body and create positive change in the world – whether that is within your own family or on a wider scale!!!
Anger is a powerfully positive emotion and it’s time that you WELCOME that energy into your body and your life!
It’s time to MAKE FRIENDS with your anger.
When you can embrace anger, welcome it, make friends with it, stay present with it, feel it, and hear it’s wisdom…….it will help you become more aware of your needs, give you a clear sense of yourself, help you find and use your voice, set healthy boundaries, speak up in effective ways, and create powerful and positive change – in your life and others. And it will relieve a whole lot of tension in your body.
Anger is actually totally awesome!!!!
And that is coming from someone who spent most of her life thinking something was wrong with her for being so angry, and failing miserably at holding that cork in place.
Our unhealthy patterns with anger
Anger resistance can show up in many different ways for many different women with many different life experiences.
Whether you are someone who doesn’t think anger is an issue (because you don’t ever feel it) or you are terrified of your own anger, or somewhere in between – there’s a good chance that improving your relationship with anger will have a significant positive impact on your body and your life.
Here are some of the ways I’ve seen “anger resistance” show up in myself and for my clients……
- Everything is Fine. I’m great (except for this pain!): These women aren’t aware they are feeling anger at all. Often they end up with chronic pain or another chronic health issue….due to the toll all that suppressed anger has taken on their body. If you’re not feeling anger at all, you’re most likely suppressing it. Anger is a healthy human emotion – we all have it, we all need it. If you’re not feeling it, it’s worth investigating – especially if you’re in pain.
- I’m Self-Aware and Connected to my Emotions – it’s other people that are the problem: These women are aware of their anger and may even express it to others – but they don’t experience this as positive. They don’t feel heard or acknowledged – AND they are frustrated about that. Chances are they are primarily processing anger in their mind and through discussion, and focusing on expressing anger, rather than FEELING AND ALLOWING IT IN their body first. They perceive the problem with their anger as a problem in how others respond to them (which is part of the equation) – but because of that they feel self-doubt or judgment, and justify or worry about their anger and how others will react to it.
- I’m too angry. Others are judging me for it or I keep losing my temper. What is wrong with me and how do I get this under control? This was me – and I work with lots of women who have a similar relationship with their anger. They may feel too angry or out of control around their anger. They may get stuck in a cycle of exploding and then feeling guilty about it – or just feel really frustrated and angry a lot of the time and go into justifying and judging about it. They are trying so hard to hold in the cork, but they need their anger and it’s not giving up on them. It’s pushing out however it can.
There is a better way: Reclaim Your Anger
The good news is that there are ways to change these patterns and develop a healthy relationship with your anger – that actually FEEL GOOD, and lead to increased energy, confidence, better self-care, connection, joy and pain relief!
Yes. Reclaiming anger can do all that!
The secret to working with anger (like other emotions) is to bring your attention into your body. This isn’t about expression or speaking up for yourself (that can come later). First, you want to access the power and wisdom of anger INSIDE your own body.
Embrace the sensations of anger in your body.
Everything else – thoughts about what happened, blame, figuring out what to do – actually gets in the way of feeling the emotion. Deciding what action to take, and when and how to speak up can come later.
You have to go INWARD first.
No matter what anyone else did or didn’t do, successfully working with anger starts with using the energy of the emotion FOR YOURSELF.
When you are able to allow your anger to flow in your body, your pelvic floor muscles will be able to relax. They won’t have to contract to protect you anymore.
Here’s how to get started!
- Bring your awareness into your body. Observe and name the sensations of anger in your body, and breathe. Read my article How to Feel Emotions for more details about how to do this, along with a step-by-step process for feeling emotions in your body so they don’t create pain.
- Let go of thoughts about why you’re angry. You can come back to think it through later if you want to. Your goal right now is to practice being aware of the sensations of the emotion in your body, and breathe. Your mind will very likely resist this and repeatedly wander back into justifying, analyzing, blaming, etc. Just continue to shift your attention back to the sensations and breathe.
- Move and make noise. If you are having trouble connecting to anger in your body, or feel ready to turn it up a notch, try the following:
- Turn on some music that evokes anger (heavy metal can work well for this).
- Stomp your feet.
- Punch your arms in the air
- Roll up a hand towel and use it to hit a chair or your bed (my personal favorite!)
- Make any other sound or noise that feels good!
- As you do this continue tracking the sensations in your body and breathe.
- Remember, this anger is FOR you. It may have been triggered by something someone else did or said, but it’s here to help YOU. Stay with the sensations. Give them permission to move or change or do whatever they are there to help you do. Bring your energy back to yourself.
- When you’re ready, ask your anger for guidance. For example, “Anger, How are you here to help me? What needs to be protected? Do you have a message for me? You may or may not get an answer in the moment. That’s fine. The important thing is to ask. Don’t fall into trying to figure it out. Your angers guidance will be the thing that just pops into your mind. If nothing does, that’s ok, it may later.
- Go slow. If you have had traumatic or negative experiences in the past with anger, aknowledge that and go slow. Experiment with a few minutes at a time being with the sensations of the emotion and then move on. Build up to this. Don’t try to do it all at once.
- Follow through on your guidance when you get it. Did your anger bring you awareness of an internal shift you want to make? Was it asking you to honor your needs, recognize your value, take breaks, or stop beating yourself up? How can you implement this guidance?
Unhealthy patterns with anger contribute to chronic pelvic pain, and stem from our inability to tolerate the sensations of anger in our body. (Remember, the tension is the cork).
Don’t wait until you’re so angry that you feel like you’re going to explode. Begin now.
Stop pretending your fine. Stop justifying and explaining.
You don’t have to know WHY you’re angry. You don’t need a reason.
Begin the journey of reclaiming your anger in your body – and discovering how it’s here to help you.
Women’s anger just may be the greatest untapped resource for positive change on the planet right now.
The world needs us to get angry.
Ready to Learn More?
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I’ll be covering the Top 3 Keys to Relieving Female Pelvic Pain and will answer all your questions.
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Everything you have written makes perfect sense
Thank you so much for writting this , it will
help so many of us in need of feeling our anger xxx
You’re welcome Anisha! Thanks for reading!
Thanks for this article, Lorraine. I realize that my pain is related to suppression of anger but I’m not an “it’s fine” kind of person. I have never thought about rationalizing and justifying–that’s my go to: if I can understand it, I can let it go. NOT TRUE!!! I’ve also felt that I can’t do anything about the situations that cause the anger to well up inside. But working with the anger in my body sounds like a wise path that is not about fixing things beyond my control. What a relief to know that I can connect to my anger without the fear that it would either be useless and frustrating or cause others and myself more pain. I’ve been debilitated by pelvic pain for about 4 yrs now. I am certain that anger is at the heart of this. It’s taken a long time to admit it–and longer to turn back the shame that I associate with the situations that make me feel angry and powerless. I’ll take your advice and go slow… A bit nervous but looking forward to seeing what unfolds. Again, THANK YOU!!!
Fantastic Andrea! You’re welcome! These are huge realizations. Yes. Go slow – and be persistent because it is so worth reclaiming your anger as a positive emotion….and a huge factor in relieving pain. I’m cheering you on! If you get stuck or have any questions feel free to ask! xoxo, Lorraine