Anger has such a terrible reputation. That’s because we see it mostly in its unhealthy and harmful permutation. Working with anger is a powerful practice that can transform the trajectory of our lives. Instead of spiralling down energetically, destroying our connections with those we care about, we can create an upward spiral to peace, compassion, and love. By cultivating a good relationship with anger, we can also model a healthy expression of a potent energy for ourselves, our children, and community.
Spring and Anger
Each season, according to Five Elements, is associated with an emotion. For Spring, it is Anger. Now anger is one of those emotions that many people suppress or express in very unhealthy and threatening ways. It’s like a demon takes over. Mean things and half-truths can slip out. We’ve probably all been stung by the venom of violent and abusive outbursts. People who are chronically angry and lash out at any given moment feel very spiky, pointy – not exactly a safe space.
How we express our anger is learned. Babies don’t pop out repressing their anger or yelling violently, though they can have a healthy set of lungs on them. (We often equate volume with aggression. David Dalton, creator of Star of Meadows essences, suggests Black Cohosh for children who are scared of strong or loud personalities.)
In the past, we have not given the appropriate place for emotions. Partly because when our boundaries were trespassed, there wasn’t much we could do about it. Class lines, for example, were stringent. Everyone had their place and were expected to play their role. It’s quite recent that boys are encouraged to express their feelings and cry.
Anger, however, is our sentry, our guard. It alerts us when someone has stepped over our boundaries. A healthy response would be a calm discussion or other appropriate actions.
How often have we doubted ourselves? How often have we decided the other person didn’t mean it? Not really. Or that we are just being overly sensitive, because that’s what other people keep telling us? Or we just don’t want to rock the boat? It is also gendered, isn’t it? When women get angry, they are called a number of choice words. When men get angry, they are being assertive. To a certain extent, and of course in general.
Ways Anger Shows up:
- When our boundaries are negotiable or permeable, we can become angry at and resentful of ourselves for not standing our ground and act from integrity. Again.
- Perhaps we are angry because we feel powerless to voice our concerns and our truth.
- We can also get angry because our safety is threatened. Or we are scared of losing someone/something.
- Underneath our anger may be unprocessed grief. We may see grief as a weakness and become angry when there is a chance of exposure. It could also be anger at people living the happy life, just as we were.
- Past events can become triggers. Anger can be the default emotion because in our minds we are already vigilant for anything that resembles past hurtful experiences.
- Anger relates to the Liver in Chinese Medicine. An imbalance in the Liver can give rise to anger, and excessive anger disharmonizes the Liver. In their article, Anger and the Liver, Farah Nazarli and Jennifer Clarke remind us that the Liver is the warrior spirit which can attack when the Liver and Liver qi are stagnant.
Anger is an intelligent protective response designed to keep us safe physically and emotionally. Anger gives us energy and focus to act, stand up for ourselves, assert our needs, and defend our integrity. This is the Liver’s emotional protective response in action as a strong leader and peaceful warrior.1
So it’s not that anger is wrong. Anger has its job as our protector and sentry. It allows us to have appropriate boundaries. Being more energetic than apathy and depression, anger also moves us into action. The key is how we express our anger in healthy ways to live our lives and show up for our relationships authentically. We can learn to channel our anger into “right” action.
Once anger is flowing and our energy is moving, where will we take this emotion? How do we move up the Levels of Consciousness. According to David Hawkins (Power vs Force), Anger is two levels below Courage, which is the pivot point, the gateway, and first level of strength. The choice is ours to stay stuck in seething anger, projecting responsibility onto the external world. Or we can harness this energy and rise up.
When we commit to whatever our choice is, helpers, allies, and teachers do show up.
Here are some suggestions to start working with your Anger:
- Spring is a great time as the Liver and its corresponding emotion are more amenable to change, to our intention and practices for harmonization. The energy of Spring is expansive. Be present with how you yourself feel, not to be taken away. Ground yourself and connect to the centre of the Earth.
- With Spring, you naturally feel more energetic yourself. Get moving! Movement is beneficial in general, and never more during Spring. It helps release stagnant emotions!
- Cultivate a healthy liver by having a lighter diet and minimizing or avoiding alcohol.
- Support your liver with acupuncture, acupressure, or Jin Shin Jyutsu. A simple and powerful Jin Shin Jyutsu Self Help is to hold your middle finger whenever you notice anger or resentment rising. Or when you catch yourself in your pattern of reactionary and incendiary response.
- The Liver and Gallbladder are the most energetic between 11 PM and 3 AM according to the organ clock. Get to sleep before 11 PM to allow energy to flow with ease to these two organs for regeneration.
- Forgive! Release yourself from the prison that of resentment. Yes, forgiveness is both simple and complex.
Working with anger so it works with and for us is a powerful perspective change. Suppressing any of our emotions is unhealthy. With anger, it can leave us resentful, irritable, and even more stressed. By understanding that anger is a messenger that boundaries have been breached, we can consciously choose how to respond. As anger corresponds with Spring, this is a wonderful time to both enhance your Liver and Gallbladder health as well as transforming your relationship with anger.
1 Anger and the Liver by Farah Nazarali and Jennifer Clarke. https://hollyhock.ca/anger-and-the-liver/