For a while now I am planning to start writing about emotions. Looking at them for what they really are and what they want to tell us. What is their purpose, their function and how do we generate them. How do they look and feel – and what happens, when they are not being heard.
And most importantly, how can we work with them on our path towards living an authentic life.
The word “emotion” is based on the Latin word “ moving out” and indeed, anger seems to be a visceral reaction. Something that appears to be coming out of the inner depth of our being, rising quickly and erupting in a sense of rage, carrying away everything that is in the way.
Anger is a formidable energy. It is pure life force, erupting and enabling us to go beyond the limitations of our mind and body in terms of running for our life – or take up the fight. Anger is what keeps as alive and evolving as a species. Anger is nature’s means for survival.
Physiologically anger is related to the stress-hormones noradrenalin and adrenalin. They are by itself not the cause of anger, but they prepare and enable the body to accommodate that rush of energy, that goes along with a stress-reaction.
The organ associated with anger is the liver. The liver is the powerhouse of the body, responsible for the free flow of energy and feelings. Anger itself is the feeling of contraction, it is the feeling of building pressure, boiling over, a force lashing out against real or perceived boundaries and barriers.
So this is giving us already some indication. First of all, anger seems to be a rush of life energy – but it is not flowing freely, it is roaring through a system in resistance. Just feel into yourself when you sense that formidable energy rising – this is creative energy, but it cannot flow freely, because it’s pathway is contracted.
But anger is also a secondary emotion – a reaction to another emotion. Anger can be based on fear or sadness. Sometimes there are several layers of different emotions conditioning each other. I may experience rage, but if I stay with this energy, than I may find fear beyond that. And if I stay with the fear, that may lead me to a sensation of sadness. All old conditionings. some from an early age, when something has happened, that we could not comprehend or manage at the time. It is still in the body, even if the mind is trying to forget all about it, or rationalises and understands on an intellectual level, that may be in disconnect with the emotional memory.
In general we can say, anger is the sense of “ I do not want that”. A thought – or a situation – may cause me to close up, or go into resistance and the energy of defending myself leads to the dynamic, outward moving energy of anger.
So lets see what are the reasons anyone can get angry.
I think the most important aspect of anger is the perceived sense of losing control. Anger has so much to do with survival and the loss of power can be perceived as threatening. That may be in a real dangerous situation, like being attacked by someone, or it is facing an imagined threat to lose one’s integrity. Given that most of us live in fairly stable and peaceful surroundings, real threats may not be so frequent. So we have to look at what it means to us getting mad at something.
Losing control is a direction to inquire. What is it that I am reacting to ? Maybe it is someone behaving in a way that threatens my position of power or something that undermines me, my credibility, but also my sense of integrity or identity.
We can get very angry if someone challenges who we are and how we choose to see ourselves. Just observe yourself in conversation, or reading the exchanges of others. What about your reaction towards anyone acting in an unfamiliar way, or when being exposed to a strange culture. The integrity and validity of tribal laws fall into this category. In order to survive, the members of the tribe must conform, to keep the tribe strong and unified. If someone falls outside of what is considered
Another reason of getting angry is not wanting to change, being lazy and sluggish. To see someone succeed, achieve something or excel at a skill, calls forward a whole range of feelings that originate in anger. Passive aggressiveness, Jealousy, sarcasm, slandering, rage, bullying…all emotions being rooted in a fear of being left behind and the desire to disparage some one’s perceived superiority.
And then there may be the sense of “ I deserve it” or feeling entitled to a certain treatment or benefit. Frequent flyer programs work on this principle and you just have to observe the subtle or not so subtle glee of those with the highest privileges – and the envy of those who have to stand in line.
So this is just a few examples to give you an idea about the energy of anger and it’s many faces expressed as emotions. Either as primary energy of fight or flight, or the higher organised emotion of jealousy, envy, frustration or contempt – the energy of anger is the means of defense.
But at times, anger may be hidden under layers of fear and may not be perceived as such. There may be inner conflicts boiling under the surface, largely unnoticed by the paralysing and anesthetic qualities of fear. This is called suppressed anger and this is dangerous for our health. Symptoms and disease associated with anger or blocked creativity are hypertension, migraine, skin disease, eye disorders, rheumatic arthritis, pms and depression, just to name the most important. To find and address the cause of anger allows to greatly improve these symptoms.
All these variances of anger are based on a state of resistance. Meeting the emotion of anger in a state of openness and acceptance gives us an opportunity to discover creative energy itself. Indeed, it its the same energy and exploring emotions will sooner or later bring us to a level where we meet this force. It then is up to us, if we continue to live in resistance. or open up to the opportunity to allow life flowing through us freely, becoming the tool of creation.