In the article The Emotional Scale – What Our Emotions Mean, I discuss the process of making yourself feel better, little by little, by incrementally choosing the next best feeling. And while this process is quite simple to follow, I’ve found that many people tend to try to avoid, and therefore can’t get past, one emotion in particular: anger. Anger, more than any other emotion, tends to make people uncomfortable. When we see someone who is angry, we shy away from them. We don’t like it when people express their anger, and we teach children that anger is an unacceptable emotion. As a result, many of us have learned to avoid being angry, and we block ourselves from the healing that moving into and through this vital emotion can bring.
What is anger, exactly? The emotional state below anger (on the emotional scale) is self-hatred, depression and powerlessness. This is the emotion that stems from blaming yourself for all that is wrong with the world, and feeling there’s nothing you can do about it. Essentially, this is the emotional state of “I am broken”, and the most painful state we can be in. To find some relief, the first step is to put the negative focus from yourself onto others. “I am broken” becomes “You are broken” or “The world is broken.” Self-hatred becomes rage, blame, jealousy and revenge. No, this emotional state isn’t pretty, and I’d never advise anyone to spend any real length of time there, but it IS a necessary step if one wants to move up from powerlessness, despair or depression.
Ideally, a person who is depressed, will naturally become angry, then less angry, then frustrated, then bored, then hopeful and finally return to their natural state of happiness and joy. When I say it would happen naturally, I mean that this is how we were designed. Your true self, or inner being, is always calling you towards your highest possible vibrational state. If left unhindered, a person in emotional turmoil will naturally and easily find their way to the next best feeling. And this is exactly how it would happen for all of us if we hadn’t been taught along the way that anger (as well as some other emotions) is to be avoided at all costs.
The result of avoiding anger can be devastating. When a person feels powerless, they will naturally strive for anger. But as soon as they enter anger, perhaps even dare to display it, they are stopped by themselves or others and told to squash it. They are made to feel guilty and inadequate. They are pushed right back down to powerlessness and depression. They become stuck where they are, never being able to move completely into anger and therefore never able to move through it.
When an individual is stuck in despair, but has a strong desire to feel better, their inner being will begin to call them to the higher vibration with more and more urgency. It will try harder and harder to pull them up to that higher vibration, creating more and more pressure. If that individual could just move into anger and through it, they could easily move on up the emotional scale. But by blocking the anger, by continuing to push them down into powerlessness, it’s like closing a pressure cooker and continuously turning up the heat. Sooner or later it’s going to blow. The individual, in their desperation to feel better, to get at least a little bit of their power back, will lash out in violence, act on their feelings of revenge and jealousy, and express their rage. People will do terrible things in an attempt to feel better, and it is almost always because at some point, when they should’ve moved through anger, they were stopped from doing so, and got stuck.
Being stuck below anger doesn’t always end in violence, of course. For most of us, it simply results in an inability to heal certain issues. For example, you may know that you have abandonment issues. You might be able to rationally discuss this with your therapist or your friends. You’ve figured out that you have a fear of being left because your father left the family when you were little and you never really got over it. You understand that you have this fear, you know why you have it, but you just can’t seem to get over it.
If you have an issue like this, it’s quite probable that you haven’t allowed yourself to be angry yet. Every time you naturally try to move into anger, you stop yourself and judge the feeling to be inappropriate. Maybe the person you need to be angry with is someone you love, and that makes it even harder. You feel guilty and like you’re betraying them. But you’re not. You don’t have to go and express that anger to them. You don’t have to scream at or slap anyone. But you do have to allow yourself to feel that anger.
Let’s use the example above. Go to a safe place and allow yourself to be angry with your father. The little child that you were when he left, needs to be angry. He should’ve been there. He shouldn’t have just left. It’s a parent’s job to be there for their children. Go on. Allow yourself to get good and mad. This is not disloyal. You don’t have to stay in anger. But you do have to feel it if you want to move through it.
And only once you’re secure in your anger, once you’re so angry that you’re not longer tempted to feel guilty or that it’s somehow your fault, should you begin to move on. Remember that there’s a huge difference between feeling anger and expressing it. Acting on your anger in ways that hurts others is not acceptable. But feeling anger is not. It’s vital and important to the healing process.
So the next time you find yourself at the bottom of the emotional scale, give yourself permission to be angry, just for a little while. Feel the relief of that and then move on. And if you see someone who’s angry, allow them to be. Give them permission. Understand that they are moving up from a much darker place and it’s only if they’re allowed to feel that anger and move through it that they can feel better, that they can heal.
I was in a hospital cafeteria once at lunchtime. There was a lady with a walker trying to get a drink. It was one of those fountain machines where you have to get your own cup, fill it with ice, fill it with the drink, get a straw, find the right lid, blah, blah…. She already had a tray with her plate lunch, napkin, flatware, etc. The drink machine was in THE most inconvenient place, in a corner, where really only one person could be there at a time. The line began to pack up behind her because she was having such a hard time. Can you imagine trying to do all that with a walker?? She turned to the waiting crowd and sheepishly apologized. I said to her, “You take all the time you need.”
The reaction was unexpected. The others all looked at me, some with less-than-pleasant expressions on their faces. I did sympathize with the employees, who probably had limited time to eat and get back to work. I could feel the impatience in the air, but it would have been impolite to disagree with the sentiment. It was so much fun! I do it every chance I get now, to let people know they are not an inconvenience, that they have just as much right to be there as anyone else, and to see the reactions! I can’t count the number of times I’ve been thanked, and for nothing more than saying, “Take your time.”
Well done Toni! I love this. It’s interesting that as we become more tolerant with ourselves (“I am not an inconvenience”), we automatically become more tolerant of others (“You are not an inconvenience”), and vice versa. When I see people being impatient with others, I know they’re just showing me how they treat themselves, and how they feel treated by the world. Sometimes, seeing compassion demonstrated can be a real eye opener. So, even if not everyone in line gets it, trust that someone needed to see that and benefited from it. 🙂