Harnessing the Healthy Potential of Anger
Most people probably don’t associate anger with Spring. At least not in the west. But in the far east, and even instinctually, Anger is the emotion of Spring. Actually, the word in Chinese used to define this Spring energy doesn’t really have an English equivalent. But it’s this assertive, pushing emotion that causes the little blossom to break through heavy, wet dirt, and allows the tightly packed bud to unfurl.
Anger is an apt catalyst for rapid growth, and no time of year flourishes as rapidly and brazenly as Spring. But for many of us, and especially for women, we’re taught that this emotion is mostly bad news.
Suppression of anger is like mounding more dirt over that little crocus that is ready to be seen! Rather than covering up something ugly we don’t want to see, we end of burying some tender, beautiful new chance at life.
I can speak to this because, as someone who has experienced a lot of compassion fatigue in my life, I have, in an attempt to be endlessly understanding and open-minded, suppressed a fair amount of anger and frustration. What I’ve found is that it always comes out one way or another, often directed as someone I dearly love (ahem, my sweet husband).
Have you ever visited a river in early Spring, especially those near the base of a mountain that’s seen a lot of snow over the winter? If so, you know it can be a messy place. Lots of debris, lots of damming, loud rushing water. Logs stuck in still eddies.
Spring brings the flood. And the flood begs for clearing and removing obstacles, for watching closely for those side-pools that might pull us into stagnation while all that clean, sparkling water flows by us on its way to fertile ground.
It’s anger that does the clearing. And I don’t mean that in some intangible way. I mean literally, at times you must get radically assertive about fulfilling your dreams, about moving away from the gunk, about keeping your head above water during the flood. You boldly declare your needs and you learn to say “No!” to that which harms you, your loved ones, your dreams and the vulnerable among us.
In ancient eastern medicine, Spring is also associated with the liver. The liver cleans our blood- our vital chi. This allows for clarity, and so Spring is associated strongly with vision, literally our eyesight and figuratively our plans. Our next steps and plantings for the rest of the year are activated fully once we allow a healthy liver and a healthy commitment to clarity to take hold of us fiercly during this time of year.
We’ve all heard the phrase “seeing red,” and it is no mistake that our ancestors understood the intimate relationship between anger and vision. Sometimes instead of suppression, we rage- and this is a situation where we can't see where we're going, and we trample delicate new petals.
If we’re viewing our lives, relationships, or work situations through a lens of anger, we won’t be able to see the future with clarity, openness, and excitement.
Resentment, complaining, annoyance… these are all shades of anger as well.
The Spring cleanse is more popular than ever- a chance to give the liver a break, to effectively clean out those eddies within that have become stagnant over cold months. But it’s also a potent time to venture on an emotional or spiritual spring cleanse.
One of the quickest and most effective ways to connect with and dispel your anger is a technique, shared with me by a profound healer and communicator, that allows us to take back control of our emotional well-being.
It works when you’re feeling angry, as well as anytime you’re feeling rushed, confused, and chaotic- all prominent springtime sensations. First, simply recognize the feeling fully.
Allow yourself to fully connect with your anger, frustration or overwhelm. Then ask yourself: What do I really need right now?
Sit with the answer as you would a dear friend who has just revealed her own deepest need to you. Take it very seriously. Then ask yourself: What can I do to meet this need today? This can also be applied to a more global anger at injustice in the world. Perhaps your need is to feel as though you’ve done something to help. This connection with your own needs will help you find ways to nourish the world and dissolve toxic levels of anger.
When we ask these simple questions, we immediately take the power of our living experience back into our hands. Often what I’ve discovered is that it’s me who needs to clarify something, express a need or lay down a boundary. It takes the focus (and the power) firmly away from a person or situation and gives it back to me.
When we converse with our anger, impossible flowers and strong, clear waters will suddenly push our most pressing obstacles out of the way, and we will see what we need to do next.
So, what do you need today? What can you do right now to fulfill that need?
Do you know someone struggling with anger, or having trouble getting clear these days? Perhaps they would enjoy this article. We offer our deepest gratitude to you if you feel moved to share the Bombilore sugar!
I wish all you compassionate, lovely ones the best of luck clearing your own rivers!
Photo by Banter Snaps on Unsplash