Anger is probably the feeling many of us are most uncomfortable with. At least it is for me. In my life violence and aggression were always associated with reducing one self’s esteem, and being in physical danger. In my culture it was acceptable to use violent resources like screaming or hitting to correct children. To a child, this destroys not only self-esteem but also the sense of trust in others and in the environment. So, the prospect of me feeling angry was never easy to manage. I’ll always try to hide my anger and push it down myself. But this turned out to be detrimental to my health by accumulating stress in my spine and creating back pain and digestive system difficulties.
So how can we deal with this fire within us? This sudden volcano erupting within us that sometimes makes us lose our heads and act violently or viciously? To deal with anger, we need to know and understand what it is. It is one of our natural emotions, and it’s necessary to accept it. In one of our Rasamaya classes, as we tried to find the origin of anger, someone suggested that it was the trespassing of one or more of our boundaries. As I told this to one of my teachers later on, he suggested taking it a step deeper: it is a need that is not being satisfied and that doesn’t seem likely to be fulfilled soon. This need can be on any level: physical, emotional, financial, relationship, etc. Our anger is simply an alarm mechanism that something is not right and needs immediate attention.
Anger by itself is not a problem, the problem is that we don’t let it flow and so it ends up hurting us or others when repressed or used in unhealthy ways. It can lead easily to violence and hurt others physically or emotionally. So, how to let flow if it feels to be so powerful? Laughter is surely a way to transform it by allowing us to see things from a different perspective. If you’re mad at something, can you see the funny side? Sometimes we take things too seriously and might be triggered easily. Laughter will definitely lighten things up. However, the underlying need still needs to be tended to, but you can look at this when you’re a bit more peaceful instead of in the middle of an internal eruption.
Allowing and acceptance ease things very much as well, especially when we’re angry because of something we can’t do anything about. Just a few hours ago, I heard a story from Opening the Door to your Heart about a young Tibetan monk that was given the task of wash an enormous pile of laundry. The monk was painfully going through the task, fuming while working on his pile of clothes, because he was tired and thought this was an injustice from the Abbot. It was not until another monk who came to help him suggested to him that doing the task was much easier than thinking about it, that the young monk found peace by focusing in what had to be done. This way, his anger and pain disappeared. Allowing the fact that he needed to do the task and accepting it took care of this young monk’s anger and frustration.
Another way to deal with anger, especially repressed anger, is to simply face it, but this requires more inner commitment. We need to allow ourselves to let it flow through us and listen deep within to find the unfulfilled need. This might require the help of a professional so that we feel safe during our exploration and we don’t hurt ourselves or others. Anger can turn into rage if not dealt with it properly and this can also be stored within. Some of us might also be attached to anger as a way to feel powerful, because it is raw power we’re dealing with, and we might enjoy intimidating others and feel dominating by using it against others. But at the end, if we don’t deal with the underlying cause, this power will feel empty and unfulfilling and will only lead to hurt ourselves and others.
Anger also asks for one thing: Self care. We are the ones who need to satisfy our needs. We are the ones who need to take care of ourselves. We are the ones responsible for our own well-being at every level. When my youngest son was just a few months old, I found myself being constantly irritated by my daughter’s behavior. Everything she did was wrong and I constantly yelled at her, even though she was only a couple of years old. I felt very bad with this, but my irritation would carry me over. It was until I realized that I wasn’t having enough rest, proper food, and enough physical activity that I realized that I was losing my temper with my children. Since this realization, I vowed to put my needs first so that I wouldn’t be that angry monster any more to my children. My whole family has enjoyed the benefits of this. So next time you start to feel irritated, you can ask yourself: “What is it that I need that I’m not giving myself?” When you find the answer to this, and start satisfying this need, you’ll feel a lot better.
A Rasamaya Yoga instructor, Lilia loves connecting spiritual science with physical facts to help people to deepen their understanding of themselves. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org