Healing Arts Report

Practices for an Evolving Life

They Don't Tell You How

“You need to love yourself more.” “You shouldn’t feel that way.” “Always put other people first. Don’t be selfish.” The one thing that is missing from all this good advice is telling you HOW to do it. We introduce you to practical tools using your own character traits to support you in creating practical answers to those questions. Read more here.

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Books

Two memoirs tell about times of extreme personal growth in the author’s life. Sunny Side Up is a window into the early 70s when certain young adults were searching for a way to head off society’s path bent on materialism. The Transparent Feather tells of a dying author passing the torch of writing to her new friend cum student.

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Mission

You can love yourself and other people as well. At Healing Arts Report we explore fulfilling personal development that at the same time serves to create the shift to a peaceful new world paradigm.

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ―C.G. Jung

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The Intelligence Of Anger

While listening to an interview of two Buddhist teachers, I was struck by what they spoke of as “the intelligence of anger.” I grew up being taught that we should neither express anger nor react to it. Those solutions seemed too passive. What I observed growing up was that a lot of people didn’t express their anger but they were still angry.

At the same time, my experience as the target of anger seemed often to be unfair or humiliating. Even if the information I was given by an angry person was somewhat accurate, my reaction was resentful and unwilling to change.

I often felt sure that anger was needed in situations that deserved justice. In fact, revenge, or at the very least, violent resistance was necessary to punish the enemy. These inconsistencies about anger inspired me to try understanding more about expressing it.

A kinder and gentler response to annoying situations began to attract my attention. Watching a parent sympathize with their hungry screaming child instead of being annoyed with the demand being made on them was one example. Another was seeing a parent thoughtfully redirect a rambunctious child’s activity.

I noticed how different a child’s response was to a parent who yelled at a crying toddler who had fallen down, “Get up! You’re not hurt” and the child whose parent said, “Oh, did you hurt your knee? Come here and let mommy kiss it.” The first child cried louder and the second one was quickly soothed.

Understanding more about psychology also helped. Jungian psychotherapy introduced me to the concept of repressed negative emotions and how avoidance and denial often results in unintended explosions of rage. The description fit something I’d observed in others and myself.

Gestalt psychology that Fitz Perls developed gave me the experience of increasing awareness of my own sensations, thoughts and feelings. His techniques allowed me to listen to anger, respect its messages, and learn non-destructive ways to use the information.

Now, as a therapist, I have the opportunity to work with people who rightfully feel anger about situations or treatment that is unreasonable. By sharing with them tools that make it bearable to examine the anger rather than repress it, they, too, are able to find solutions that eluded them in the past.

A young woman whose father was mostly absent during her childhood continued to upset her in her adulthood by claiming a wish to see her and then cancelling at the last minute. Her child having the same reaction–feeling angry and hurt over his broken promises–exacerbated the situation.

Yet my client wished to continue giving her father the opportunity to strengthen their relationship despite knowing his pattern. In her growing awareness of all the elements of the situation, she decided first of all to remind her child about grandpa’s usual behavior and, secondly, to always have a Plan B that they would enact if he didn’t show up within a certain time frame.

The secondary plan prevented them from waiting, not knowing when to stop, and then stewing over it. The plan curtailed the sense of loss and frustration and gave them control over what to do regarding the more probable outcome.

Using the “intelligence of anger” helps one decide on actions that address the issues according to one’s ideals rather than by pretending the difficulties aren’t there. The three most basic techniques that anyone can apply is 1) do not push the anger away, but resist the urge to make excuses for the other person or yourself; 2) then give yourself a healthy time-out alone; and 3) make as many statements as you can about how you feel. You can write them down if you wish. These are not statements about the other person such as, “That Imelda is greedy, collecting all those shoes.” Make them about you and how angry you are and what you wish you could do about it.

After the illegal and mean-spirited suggestions, try coming up with ideas about changing your way of handling the situation, like the client described above. She found a way to live up to her own ideals by not withdrawing, yet she did not let her father ruin her day. She put up a boundary that she could live with.

Forgive the vulgar language but notice how comedian Lewis CK and cartoonist John Roney use their anger to wake us up to many aspects of our culture. Click on the picture below.

PRACTICE: When something makes you want to behave in an angry way, experiment with a non-violent way to express yourself. See what comes of it.

CONTACT.  If you are wondering HOW to channel anger in a safe way, for yourself and for those with whom you’re angry, contact me for a free 20-minute consultation, and we can explore a way that is most accessible to you.

Discussion

One Response to “The Intelligence Of Anger”

  1. HILARIOUS cartoon. Good post.

    Posted by Katherine Cobb | November 20, 2013, 4:16 pm

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