For centuries now our spiritual teachers have been teaching us that anger is a bad emotion. Most commonly today we are taught that anger has physical, emotional and psychological consequences that none of us want. Anger, according to these teachings, makes us say and do things we regret. It makes us feel so-called “negative feelings” and think so-called “negative thoughts,” which if extended to the most popular version of the Law of Attraction, will bring us “negative” life events.
Because of these teachings many of us expend considerable energy trying to fight hard against ever feeling any such “negativity.” We do not realize that choice is the final operative--that we may choose to feel and examine anger without acting until we are clear on its message. Therefore, instead, we repress anger and say to ourselves that we will be loving and kind instead of angry—as if anger were the opposite of loving kindness. We do not try to get in touch with our truest feelings; we simply tell ourselves not to feel them, because they are bad.
What happens when we repress anger is that it goes down into a receptacle of the unconscious to be stored until it finds a channel through which it can be expressed either subtly or overtly. Anger, like every other emotion, wants to be known, to be understood, to be embraced and to deliver its message completely. Therefore, when we repress it, it never really goes away. It just sits in the wings, waiting for an opportunity to step out on the stage and be seen and heard—not by others, but by us.
The truth is that anger, like every other emotion, is just a message to us, for us and about us. It is not meant to be squelched in the name of being good or right. Nor is it meant to grab a hammer with which to beat someone else over the head. It is simply meant to give us a message. That message is as individual as the person who is angry. But the message is meant to facilitate authenticity.
For example, if I tell myself not to be angry when you continuously betray me in ways that could potentially damage my relationship with my boss, I’m essentially neglecting myself. We have been taught that this kind of self-neglect is an act of love to the other person—even though if we are honest, we would have to admit that we are still angry at this other person in spite of our efforts to repress the anger. But at least we are not acting angry.
When we start to understand that true spirituality is an inside job, that is when spirituality begins to become authentic. We cannot be authentically spiritual when we are pretending not to feel things we actually feel. We cannot be authentically spiritual when we are denying the realities of the dynamics at play right under our noses. Anger calls us to take care of ourselves in very loving, nurturing ways. When we ignore it, we refuse to do the deep spiritual work of self-care.
On the other hand, when we meditate on our anger, allowing it to give us its message, we begin to behave in ways that make clear the meaning of the anger that came into our awareness from its source in soul. We begin to deliberately speak for our truest boundaries. We begin to stand inside of our own souls in a way that allows us to be true to self and other simultaneously. We begin to see that anger is a valuable and especially self-loving message that cuts a path for us to our soul’s home on earth.
~Andrea Mathews is a psychotherapist, author, speaker and radio host, currently teaching workshops to clinicians on how to assess and treat spiritual problems. She is the author of four books, the latest, Letting Go of Good: Dispel the Myth of Goodness to Find Your Genuine Self, is coming out in 2017. Learn more about her work at http://www.andreamathews.com.