We feel what we feel and anger is a common and commonly repressed emotion. What happens when we suppress anger and how do we get stuck in life?
What are your feelings about anger? What about guilt?
If you are like many people, these are not easy emotions for you to express. We have been taught, especially as women, that anger is inappropriate. Anger is seen as primitive, not how people in civilized society act. “We are not animals” some people may quip. (But that’s another topic)
We judge these emotions and we judge ourselves and others because of them. We are afraid of being unloveable and ostracized. Survival is greatly enhanced when we are part of a tribe and we are wired to want to belong.
People are also very uncomfortable around anger. We have no way of knowing how it will escalate and we may fear for our physical safety if the angry person is armed with power, weaponry, or physical size.
We have every right to feel angry, or any emotions for that matter. It is not for someone to tell us whether how we feel is appropriate. That’s just how we feel. It is what we do with our feelings that makes the difference.
Chronic suppression of anger is a mismanagement of anger. Emotions are energy in motion and are meant to be felt and move through the body. They are messages and signals for us, data about our environment and our relation to it. There is a natural flow of emotions that occurs when we allow rather than intellectualize them.
This natural flow is from anger to sadness, fear, and guilt, each of which arises as the previous one is expressed. Since anger is the first in this chain, it is especially important for us to feel this emotion in a healthy way and this requires a commitment to unearthing why we get angry the way we do. Why are we being triggered? What have we been repressing?
Worry agitates the Heart and has repercussions on the Lungs; pensiveness agitates the Heart and has repercussions on the Spleen; anger agitates the Heart and has repercussions on the Liver; fear agitates the Heart and has repercussions on the Kidneys. Therefore all the five emotions [including joy] affect the Heart.
Yu, Chang, Principles of Medical Practice
If an emotion is intense or remain for a long time, they can imbalance our organs, according to Chinese Medicine. It is believed that anger affects the liver, joy (also shock) the heart, pensiveness the spleen, worry and sadness the lungs, and fear the kidneys.
In Jin Shin Jyutsu, the five attitudes that can imbalance the organs are worry, spleen/pancreas and stomach, fear kidneys and bladder, anger liver and gall bladder, sadness and grief lungs and large intestine, trying to/pretense heart and small intestine.
These different emotions affect qi in different ways, including dissolving life force energy.
The other place we can get stuck in this natural flow is with guilt. We often misidentify this emotion with shame. Guilt means we feel we did something wrong. We all make mistakes. How do we act after the fact and do we take responsibility?
The suffering comes when we keep on feeling remorseful about what happened. Shame or the feeling of disgrace or loss of face may be connected with guilt but it need not to. Shame comes from an attachment to a certain idea of how something or someone should be.
Guilt, on the other hand, helps us see that something did not work out and with that recognition, we can look for possible factors and adjust our next endeavour. Learning from our mistakes, and not identifying with mistakes, allows us to grow from experiences and release ourselves from the past.
The Guest House
Every morning a new arrival.A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.