Things I Have Learned About Anger
My earliest memories about anger go back to when I was around 4 years old. My mother and my father are fighting with each other. I do not understand why they hurt each other with words. I want them to stop. Why do people fight like this? Shortly after they seperate.
The next thing a little later, my 12 years older brother is not feeling well. I come into the room and want to play with him. He gets angry and hits me with a guitar. I do not understand. My home is not safe.
Then later, I am 12 to 14 now. My ex-alcoholic, war traumatized grandfather is getting dementia. He was never really a pleasant person to be with for me, but now he starts to shout at the people at the Christmas table. He creates an atmosphere of horror. If I speak up I am in danger of being attacked. Again I do not understand. Why is he doing that? Why is no one stopping him? I just swallow this atmosphere down. I swallow my hate. It is like this every year now. At every family gathering there is shouting, threatening. When the other family members fight they collapse inwards out of fear and go nuts or shout at each other in similar ways.
One part of me rejoices in that drama, in the intensity of it. One part becomes more and more numb and isolates myself from my family.
Inside me one part of me started hating many of my family members. I did not want to have anything to do with them. These people are crazy. Hurting the close ones they are supposed to love the most.
The picture of anger I got through all of that is. Anger is bad. It is totally destructive, it poisons the atmosphere. It hurts other people. It is insane. It creates disconnection. I will hate you and not take you seriously if you are angry. And I, I will never be like this. I will never let my anger out like they do.
But I did. On the outside I was the nice and adaptive good boy but inside I became this numb cold person full of hate, resentment and revenge for the world. I will cut you with my coldness and tear you into pieces. I might not let my anger out like many in my family did, but I carry it suppressed within myself, so you feel it in every word.
At 19 I went traveling into the world. Finally I am outta here.
I started a spiritual journey, started meditation in a vipassana tradition. Finally people who understand me. Anger is bad. It is creating bad karma for you. You only use it as a last resource, if nothing else helps, but even then you are angry with love at its base. The goal of life is to be equanimus. To see everything as constantly changing, not attaching to anything. What is there to be angry about?
I came home after one year. Christmas and again, this atmosphere of horror. My grandfather threatens to hit someone, was it me? I do not know anymore. And the first time, someone stands up to him. My uncle, who did a lot of therapy in his life, uses his anger to set a boundary out of love. STOP! YOU WILL NEVER HIT ANYONE AGAIN IN THIS HOUSE!
These words engraved themself in my heart. That is the first time I see anger being used out of love. I have never seen that before. I did not know how that works. But that was just a small glimpse.
I started doing nonviolent communication. Anger is actually not real. It is a mind created feeling. You feel angry only if you judge something or someone as wrong. And behind that there are unmet and unexpressed feelings and needs.
But there was a seed planted within me and I looked for more. Vivan Dittmars 5 feelings concept helped me differentiate, there is a constructive part of anger and a destructive part. One distinction closer to anger out of love.
I started doing Gestalt Therapy. Here I could finally let out all the anger I carried within myself. I started to feel the pain and sadness behind my hatred. It needs to complete itself, complete its Gestalt, is the philosophy behind it. But actually even there you do not relate with your anger, you only heal and complete what feelings you have about what happened to you.
In between I went to a community. And I saw people relate with anger in such a loving way, that I started crying. There was so much vulnerability and taking a stand for each other in that anger, I have never experienced anything like this. But that community was too scary for me (my box) to live in.
So I kept looking.
Then I started my first Rage Club. I felt like coming home. My anger is finally allowed in all its facets. Yes, there is old emotional anger that if lived in a relationship is destructive, but it can be used for healing past things. And yes, there is the feeling of anger, that is there for me in this present moment to create connection, to set boundaries and to take a stand with.
The present moment feeling of anger is a doorway into love, into clarity, into connection. I need it as an ally at my side.
I started to train with my anger. I did healing processes to give my anger my voice back. To let it speak its truth. I did the 333 practice. 3 month, 3 days a week, 3 minutes of full out anger.
I started to use my anger to write, to do things I want to do like becoming a coach, to finish things I did not want to do, like studying. I started using my anger to create the relationships I want. To ask for what I want. To make proposals. To speak with clarity and to cut through my or other people’s bullshit.
And even more! Anger is a doorway into the archetypal, into what it means to be a warrior. Into serving what I came here on earth to do. I can let my inner dragon speak and say what is going wrong, what needs to stop, what needs to happen and what I take a stand for.
Even though I did all that work, there is still much in me that believes anger is actually bad. I have trained myself for years to hate anger in others and within myself. It will take some time to untrain that.
Part of my Journey now is to offer that work of regaining connection with anger to other people, while I still grow myself. I participate in a Rage Club Spaceholder Training. I will deliver my first Introduction to Rage Club this month. I take a stand for anger to be liberated in this world.
For more information visit my website.
Love and Rage