My mother yelled a lot. I assumed that’s what anger was.
Something painful, confusing and scary.
TV and the news reinforced this. With stories of violence, murder and all the awful things in between.
But this is not what anger is.
Anger is not rage.
Rage is an inability to manage anger and express it in healthy ways.
What looks like strength is actually weakness. 😡
So what is anger?
Anger is an incredibly useful and important emotion.
Anger helps us:
- Find our direction in life
- Heal from past wrongs
- Clearly articulate what’s important
Anger helps us advocate for ourselves and others. It helps us to stand up for our values, maintain our boundaries and speak truth to power.
Anger does not need to be loud. Anger can be very quiet. It is very clear and direct, and congruent with our bodies. It is presence.
Anger is your personal power.
It reminds you that you matter.
Anger is not a bad thing, but people can do bad things when they are angry.
But when we learn how to be in our anger with quiet determination, we are incredibly powerful.
Because when we are in touch with our anger, we are in touch with our life-force. Here we are strong, congruent, in our bodies, we are present.
When we express healthy anger we speak clearly, directly, quietly and assertively. We are clear on our boundaries, our values and why we matter.
To healing your relationship with anger, start by first understanding what your existing relationship looks like.
- What are your beliefs about anger?
- What words or actions do you associate with anger?
- What memories do you have of anger? Yours and others?
- What does your culture believe about expressing anger? For men? For women?
Do you express anger through:
- Being quick to assert dominance?
- By converting it into niceness, rightness or charm?
- By being passive-resistance, passive-aggressive or stubborn?
- Crying or expressing sadness?
- Anxiety and fearful thoughts?
Our childhood experiences with anger vastly shape our beliefs about anger in adulthood. And it shapes what is good and bad, what is allowed and what isn’t.
To truly feel safe accessing our anger and expressing it in healthy ways, we need to heal whatever childhood wounds we carry. That might be related to how you felt when someone else was angry, or feeling unable to stand up for yourself, or how you reacted to injustice.
Learn more about crafting a new relationship with your emotions here.
Anger and the Enneagram
Anger is one of the four core emotions the Enneagram teaches us about.
Each of the 9 types expresses anger in different ways, but the key is to learn what our patterns are. And we can be inspired by how other types express anger and learn from them.
Here are a few brief words to describe how each type experiences or expresses anger:
Enneagram Eight: intense energy, quick, direct, excessive, fast, assertive
Enneagram Nine: stubborn, passive-resistance, passive-aggressive, smiling, saying yes meaning no
Enneagram One: tension, rightness, converting anger into a smile, critiquing, practical
Enneagram Two: smiling, happy, resentment, hurt, rejected
Enneagram Three: irritation, frustration, fast-paced, impatient, competition
Enneagram Four: (depends on subtype), stoic, busy, quiet competition, specialness, demanding, high standards, guilt
Enneagram Five: retreat, withdrawing, disconnecting from their body
Enneagram Six: (depends on subtype) questioning, rigidity, devil’s advocate
Enneagram Seven: practical, idealistic, charming, (may express more anger in personal relationships)
Don’t fear anger
Don’t fear anger; fear how it is or isn’t expressed.
One of the reasons we struggle to get the life we yearn for is that we are unable to express healthy anger and step into our personal power with ease.
Here are a few ideas that can help you connect with healthy anger:
- Take a martial arts class
- Take a friend to an axe throwing night
- Scream in the car or in a pillow
- Take a boxing class
- Put on some heavy metal music
Notice that all of these activities are body based. We cannot connect to anger through the head or heart centre. It is a body based emotion, and we need to reconnect to it through the body.
As for me, I realised that all the anger I expressed was actually masking fear. And that I actually have very little access to anger. So part of my inner work is to access anger more consciously and directly.
Reconnecting with anger can feel scary, but remember you matter, and healthy anger helps to remind you of that everyday.