The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why Isn't it Okay to Be Angry?

Most everyone says it is good to express our feelings; happy, glad, sad, fear, affection, guilt, shame, grief, courage, respect, hope...and then there is the dreaded - anger!

Lately, many people have said to me, "Why does everyone tell me that I shouldn't be angry? That makes me even angrier!"

Since so many people have talked to me recently about their struggles with anger, I thought I would re-post one of the very first posts I wrote when I began blogging.

Dealing with Anger

Anger corrodes... Forgive and forget... Negativity is harmful to your health... These often-heard statements usually instill a sense of urgency that implies that we should "get over it" immediately.

For many years, I was so frightened to admit that I was angry that I tried to pretend I was not.
I continued to allow my abuse while I worked at suppressing my anger. Eventually, I felt little else but simmering resentment. Without receiving validation that I had a right to my feelings, my anger remained stuffed inside and unresolved.

Anger has its place. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to embrace my anger. Not forever, but long enough to respect a healthy sort of rage over what had happened to me. My anger provided a tool for protecting myself from further harm, and a springboard from which to heal.

Although my mom abused and betrayed me, I felt very conflicted about her. She hurt me deeply, and nevertheless I loved my mother. I loved her and I was angry with her.

People are often uncomfortable with anger and therefore advise us that it isn't good to be angry. Their well-meaning advice proved to be a great disservice to me.

It wasn't until I did receive validation from other people that I found appropriate ways to discharge my rage, protect myself, and move past my anger. I gave myself permission to be constructively angry - to use my irritation as an aid in moving forward - until the hurt no longer felt present. It is important to honor the depth of our injuries as a way of moving past the pain.

Finding methods to diffuse my resentment wasn't easy. Solitary anger exercises were not effective for me. I tried techniques such as writing an angry letter and ceremoniously burning it. Still my anger remained.

Expressing my anger in the company of trusted confidantes was very helpful. Dark humor like "bad mother" jokes helps for me as well. Participating with friends in interactive exercises gave me the sense of not being alone, and validated that I had a right to my anger. I am certain that what makes seemingly unbearable pain bearable, is the ability of another to hold our pain. They held my pain and helped me move past my rage.

There is an important distinction between - a) perpetuating anger by raging at the individuals who harmed us, and - b) discharging anger in safe environments apart from the individuals who caused the harm.

Bringing my injuries "into the light" and acknowledging my anger in the safety of supportive individuals brought me emotional freedom, and a measure of peace.

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