Jan 262014
Illustration by Agata Kawa

Illustration by Agata Kawa

Anger is one of those emotions that’s been long-stricken from the social palette of acceptability. Especially for women, who are taught that being angry makes you unlikeable, and being unlikeable is a kind of rejection from Femininity itself.

So many set about a lifetime of unspoken penance to becoming ‘a nice person.’ You turn down your volume, soften your step, retract your talons and acquiesce. But a terrible thing is lost in the suppression of anger – your relationship with one of your greatest allies: Instinct.

Anger arises when your heart has been offended, your values have been wronged, your beloveds are threatened, or somewhere, justice has been denied.

Anger is the catalyst to the impotence you may feel in these situations. It sets your heart racing, elevates your blood pressure and quickens your breath. Adrenaline surges through your veins and poises you for action.

This profound physical transformation can make you feel out of control, but that may mostly be because the incisiveness of power has become a stranger to us.

When we suppress our anger, it often results in one of two ways: It turns inward and takes the form of Depression and/or somaticizes into disease, or it bursts out of us in an exaggerated and inappropriate way.

Next time you find yourself in this mode, try taking a moment to yourself where you can ‘run your anger,’ which is to say amplify and befriend it! Let it course through your veins – feel the power of its presence in your body – let it invigorate you. Give it a voice and listen to what it has to say.

A terrible thing is lost in the suppression of anger - your relationship with one of your greatest allies: Instinct.Click To Tweet

Once you know what your instincts are telling you, you can begin to make the necessary changes in your life. You can set limits against other people’s rude or inconsiderate behavior, defend yourself or others in a constructive way. You can finally speak the unspeakable.

To learn more about befriending feelings, here’s a link to Toko-pa’s mailing list: http://eepurl.com/jt0JL

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A writer, artist and tender of dreams, Toko-pa has been interviewed by CNN News & BBC Radio and her writing has appeared in publications around the world. Thanks to Skype, she works with dreamers internationally in her Private Dreamwork practice, based on Salt Spring Island in Canada. You can find Toko-pa on Facebook or sign up for her mailing list to receive news about upcoming events.

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  19 Responses to “Making Anger your Ally”

  1. I imagine what a shift we’d experience as women when more of us focused on allowing the energy of anger rather than resisting it for the fear of the angry woman stereotype. Thank you for speaking to this Toko-pa!

  2. A great way to transmute your anger would be creatively, like dancing, singing, poetry, journalism, painting, drawing.. some way to let it OUT of your system.. and trans-mutate it into something beautiful. <3

  3. anger shows….there is something wrong…the system gives alarm….its a healthy system

  4. Good article and an awesome illustration! Namaste! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. It took me a long time to deal with years of “Suppressed Anger” until it became nearly unbearable and so had to finally confront the ’cause(s). In coming to terms with it I have come away with this adage …

    “Anger … is the only ‘honest to my self response’ … when my boundaries are infringed upon”. …

    especially when and or if that abuse is blatantly defended; while my complaint is brushed off and falls on deaf ears!

    BTW … I used to roll over and take it [the abuse]… at one time.

    “Now I know my anger; can distinguish the cause; and address my defense with confidence and vigor!”

  6. this is why I like your posts… you speak of real… not of sentimentality
    thank you Toko-pa

  7. I agree with letting your anger out in an appropriate way but I have 2 clinically depressed relatives and one of the symptoms is not being able to deal with day-to-day issues and inconveniences and this comes out as extreme and (illogical) anger. This can’t be OK. We cannot allow ourselves to become angry in situations that do not warrant anger and I think it’s important to clarify that.

  8. as i feel and heal from abuse in my childhood, i am surrounded by people who are “sorry”…even my offender. i am aware that i feel like i have no where to put my anger. nothing to push against. i’m looking for another way to think of expressing anger since there isn’t anyone to convince or blame or fight…

  9. one of the things about recognizing you have a right to be angry is, you have a right to choose how to release it. destructive actions buiild more anger. constructive actions can be therapeutic. if we are angry because we recognize past abuses against us (and I have been there) we can turn our anger into healing and changing ourselves into a person who will never allow abuse again, to ourselves or anyone else. And part of that healing is to inform everyone about your anger and how you are channeling that, especially your abusers. you can’t change anyone else; you can change yourself and using anger as a motivation is powerful.

  10. Yes, anger is usually repressed in people who have historically been put down and shamed by powerful oppressors or oppressive leaders… Anger freeing from this kind of oppression can only be liberating and since it will increase our diversity, all society will benefit…

    At the same time, anger can easily come from instinctual patterns governed by the ego… Letting oneself be systematically taken by that anger leads to emotional instability and difficulty in co-creating lasting relationships…

    Know thyself and know the difference between the two when they arise… ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Thank you for this post! Anger was a major teacher for me in 2013. I took an amazing workshop with the creator of this video, Sophia Hoffer Perkins, who offers some “safely rage at home” tips here. Check it out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eebNjnp_uFw

  12. Good good. This article validates and opens to feeling the anger. Anger is an instinctive signal, that in the infant or child, is a communication about a need: a need for protection, succor, safety, satiety. When responded to by carer, one then “swallows” the relationship of a caring and responsive attendant. So we then grow up and have this introject. However, if we did not get responded to, we are sometimes stuck with the infantile expectation that it is the parentified other’s responsibility to answer our demand.
    When we then feel anger the questions can arise, “What do I need.?” and “What is the best way to get my need met?” In this way, it is not often that the anger needs to be expressed to another, unless that is the best way to fulfill the need (as in Mama-bear protection), but felt and listened to by oneself. Namaste.

  13. Happy/Sad/Mad/Scared…self awareness of body, mind & spirit…apparently there are over 600 emotions which we can identify…I teach emotions 101…anger is visceral and can be felt in the body…for me with PTSD I have to be careful to journal and understand it’s root as if left unattended like a wound it will fill with pus and spill over in time to rage..if I stay in constant flight or fight my cortisol levels stay high and it will eventually burn me out and block happy emotions too….important to get to feelings underneath eg. when i feel belittled, disrespected I get angry…I really feel hurt and pain as I have identified this pattern…so to cope I learned to not go to learned helplessness as a child but respond as an adult with my personal power intact and put my bubble (barrier/boundary) around me and not let it bother me as I know who I am so it doesn’t matter what someone else thinks (easier said than done). As a sexual assault nurse seeing women beaten and raped I started a support group so we could vent and deal with the vicarious traumatization that can happen when we bear witness to victims…also I diffuse my anger through advocacy ie. change.org so I can release it and sing dance to physically release and channel…also be aware of how others anger affects you as people project onto others ie. violent men who may have fears of abandonment project this fear in anger to control his partner…might is right mentality with sense of entltlment and belief of superiority/lack of problem solving skills/learned behaviours all lead to violence…we are accountabl and responsiblefor our feelings/actions….temper tantrums don’t work in the adult world and it is imortant to separate what is my shit/what is your shit…if not yours send the bucket of shit back to who owns it…keep that bubble intct…hope this helps…feedback welcomed …wellnessworks8@gmail.com

  14. this is very helpful. the other wisdom I learned about anger is from Thict Nat Hanh , who recommends rocking your anger like a crying baby – in other words, finding out what is underneath, and taking care of it, listening to it and letting it be a guide. In my book The Tao of Turning 50 I quoted his words on this, and called the chapter The Inner Bitch Goddess – listen to her and accept her wisdom.

  15. Thank you! I really appreciate this and the session with you. So helpful!

  16. Interesting article, I hope you don’t mind but I thought I would share the Buddhist angle on anger, which is that it is a destructive delusion and has no function other than to harm. People get angry at different things and from their own point of view feel this is justified – but it just adds to the anger in the world, destroys our own peace and happiness and hames others – so many of the worlds problems we see today are caused by people with angry minds, and nine of them will be solved by people with angry minds.

    This does not mean that we do nothing when faced with oppression we can always oppose this even forcibly, but motivated by minds of love and compassion for those oppressing us how are suffering from the mental sickness of anger (or greed, jealousy etc) themselves and causing themselves unbearable suffering in the future. This obviously is tricky ๐Ÿ™‚

    It is also not about suppressing anger – this will bottle it up to explode later, we need to spot it, recognised it (like a doctor spotting a tumour) realise it has no function other than to harm, and make the choice not to follow it, transforming the situation with our mind to replace anger with a positive mind of patience love compassion or wisdom.

    But whilst we let our anger run we cast the seeds or create the habit for more anger in the future, destroying our own happiness and harming those around us.

    My teacher Geshe Kelsang Gyatso say all the above better ๐Ÿ™‚

    “Anger is our real enemy, until we evict it from our mind it will continue to cause us unimaginable suffering. Therefore, instead if blaming othe people or circumstances and viewing these as our enemies, we should recognise that it is the anger within our mind that is the real source of our suffering. Then though guarding our mind with continuous mindfulness and alertness, we should take every opportunity to free our mind from its destructive influence.” How to Solve our Human Problems, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

    Most of this book is about dealing with anger – it’s awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

    There is so much anger in the world we have to be careful not to add to it.

  17. Obviously my typing leaves a lot to be desired, hames = harms, nine = none

  18. Yes, I agree James
    Practice makes perfect
    A real challenge for us all in this World we call home.

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