May 29, 2018
Anger, especially anger towards who we love, is something that many of us automatically push away.
It is part of the human design that we suppress any anger directed at those we trust and depend on.
From childhood, our mind is designed to do this without us even knowing.
This is because, from an evolutionary perspective, the bond with our caregivers is a life-or-death matter.
The idea that those we so rely on can fail, or that we would do something to upset them, is unfathomably frightening.
Despite growing into adulthood, many of us remain stuck with an estranged relationship with anger.
When anger comes, it is laden with guilt and shame, so we suppress it before we even notice it.
We binge eat, we numb ourselves, we get depressed, or we turn aggression towards ourselves and feel like a bad person who deserves no place in the world.
Then, sometimes our anger erupts at unexpected times and unexpected ways, impeding the relationships with those who are close to us.
Most of us do not feel safe enough to touch anger.
But by spending so much energy to hide from ourselves, we end up settling for a smaller slice of life, and feel less than human.
To get past this, let’s debunk a few myths about anger.
Firstly, our anger does not need justifications.
See it as a kind of universal energy that goes around, and when it enters our system, it just needs to be allowed to go through and then released. Because we feel threatened by anger, we often find ways to justify, or rationalize it away: “They did the best they could.”
Yes, this is actually true, in fact, everyone is always trying the best they can, with the knowledge, capacity and resources they have. And inevitably there will still be unmet needs and disappointment. And it is most natural that we have an angry response — it is, in fact, a healthy and necessary part of nature.
Secondly, anger does not equate to blame. This is a hard one to get around.
When anger surges, our mind has a hidden belief: “Someone must have done something wrong.” Following that, it goes: “If it is not others’ fault, then it must be mine.”
This is just not true.
Our world is not perfect, and it is not supposed to be.
It is designed that way so we can all grow spiritually.
When things don’t go our way, part of us will feel upset and angry, and that can be the end of the story. No one to blame.
But most importantly, we ought to understand this:
Anger does not reduce our love, it makes love grow.
Temporarily, it may feel like anger diminishes love, but in the long run, being able to acknowledge anger in our emotional repertoire will only enhance our capacity for true love.
If we can go through the painful process of digesting what our loved ones did not do so well and what the child in us was/is angry about, we will inevitably get to the next steps of the psychological and spiritual maturation process: grieving and accepting.
After anger, we are no longer in denial. When the disappointment is digested through, we will have to grieve what we had needed but did not get, and then be released from the tyranny of false expectations.
We will be triggered less often because we have stopped projecting an idealized version of others onto the real people that they are.
Our love for them is deepened because it is now based on the truth of who they are — both glory and terror, both their most delightful qualities and their infuriating limitations. It is not clouded by an illusion, and not tainted by endless cycles of false expectations and disappointment.
Accepting does not mean surrendering to defeat or allowing abuse, it just means seeing what is. And seeing what is is the first step to loving what is.
Allowing anger to go through and pass us is an alchemy. It is the opposite of evil, but the doorway to vaster love.