Anger and The Nice Girl; a Love Story

 

A few weeks ago, a very intuitive friend asked me what the deal was with me always being so nice (just to be clear: this was not intended as a compliment). As I sat with that I realised she was tuning in to something I’d been thinking about recently; that somewhere down the line I had ditched anger in favour of eternal zen.

Except that it doesn’t quite work that way seeing that I’m not a fantastically enlightened yogi (I’m working on it), which means that my zen is sometimes just a veneer with anger bubbling beneath it. Which is obviously not very healthy, not to mention inauthentic.

Anger and Depression

I wasn’t always so peaceable, diplomatic and politically correct. As an adolescent, anger was an addiction; I spent most of my teenage years embroiled in a righteous rage, aggressively pursuing what I believed to be important and true, and arguing anyone who was reckless enough to disagree with me into the ground.

And while I must have been really (really) annoying to other people (I was for example, a renowned recycling nazi at school), I fought for what I believed in. I was full of passion, and it gave me courage, something close to invincibility – a kind of defiant belief I could, in fact, get everyone to behave in an ethically responsible manner through the force of my own convictions.

Of course experience (and other people) eventually disabused me of that notion, and at some point I stopped fighting. I became jaded and despondent and ultimately depressed. Then, in an attempt to alleviate my depression, I got into Buddhism. As I began to read about Buddhism, I learnt about…

Acceptance, Compassion and Impermanence

…and I thought, “I must accept that there are things I cannot change.” “And I must be compassionate towards all the assholes in the world who know not what they do.” “And anyway, nothing is permanent and it’s all just a random game on this crazy little blip in the universe so really it’s just not worth getting that stressed out about.”

Somehow these lessons translated into Anger is a refusal to accept things you don’t like, so I became an expert at jumping into a posture of ‘letting go’ every time I felt the slightest hint of anger. For years.

Anger and Love

As I started to become more conscious of my relationship with anger over the last few months, I realised that this is not true; that anger can be a worthy emotion, a useful emotion, an emotion that is needed because it has a lot of power in it. Power that, when used with a pure intention, can bring about massive change. When used with impure intentions however (as it currently very often is), it can bring massive destruction.

The only way to experience anger constructively is to remain anchored in your heart. 

When we are angry and go into conflict, the only way we can reach a solution that increases the value of the end effect (the energetic level of the interaction, if you’ll forgive my using such woo-woo sounding terms), is to stay anchored in our hearts. The minute we lose that heart connection we are at serious risk of losing sight of the bigger objective (to find a healthy solution) and becoming enmeshed with the anger itself (so that “winning” the argument becomes the primary motivation).

When our motivation shifts from finding a heart-centered solution to “winning” (because the other person is “wrong”), we lose the healthy power of anger and relapse into what essentially boils down to 5-year-old behaviour (come on human race, do better).

Something I’ve found very helpful maintaining the heart connection is to always differentiate between being angry at someone, and being angry at their behaviour. The first makes it hard to maintain a loving posture towards the person as you are directing your anger at the person themselves, whereas the latter allows you to remain accepting, compassionate and loving towards the person whilst honouring your anger about something they’ve done.

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As we begin to grow into our spiritual nature as a species, it’s important for us to begin by integrating all that we are, and taking it with us in integrated form as a valid part of our past learning experience. Anger, due to its power, is one of the most critical aspects of human nature that needs to be brought into a more mature state of being, and the only way we can do this is through love.

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14 thoughts on “Anger and The Nice Girl; a Love Story

  1. Wow! This is right in line with a personal FB post I made yesterday that got quite a few responses. It told me that this is a pervasive issue with women…and then I just happened to see this blog post. Then, I saw your “get naked” pic and thought, “I’ve got to see what this is all about”! I have in a draft form right now a blog post about “getting naked”. I ended up breaking it into 3 blog posts and posted one about judgment today. Look forward to seeing more from you!

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    1. Wow Rachel, love the synchronicity of all that! It certainly does seem to be a big issue amongst women…and the question for me is, How do we find the way to start bringing it out and expressing anger healthily when there are so few examples of how to do that in a way that honours the feminine intelligence/way of being?
      Staying connected to heart is definitely helpful but I feel it’s gonna take a LOT of practice..!
      Thank you for popping over and I’m going to go check out your “naked” posts now ;)

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  2. Nazi Recycler,
    Anger can provide a brilliant clarity when held cleanly. Keeping an open heart and sweeping aside Zen veneers sets the mood, but I really think you are onto something when you begin owning your crazy.

    Look at the state of the world and then accept that around 7 billion higher functioning primates are crazy…..no need to be angry about it, just own yours and encourage others to do the same. Should things get frisky we could always suggest a little quiet time a couple of days a week for a stretch…..find a oneness in the silence maybe. :)
    Cheers,
    (Not quite) Egoless Mark

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    1. Very wise, egoless Mark :)
      I like the acceptance, and the balance of owning the crazy and spending quiet time…sounds like the recipe for a much saner world!
      Accepting the crazy…I’ll work on that :)

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  3. Anger is understandable when you see something unjust or when somebody is doing bad things. But it does not solve the problem when your adrenalin forces you to start yelling etc. It is a sign of powerlessness. It is more constructive to zoom in and show empathy to the person…and offer your help. Maybe not nice at all :-)) but more effective !!

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    1. Interesting that you say “A sign of powerlessness”.. is that because we are disconnected from your internal wisdom? Or the place from which the constructive approach could emerge? Really interesting input Jaap!

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      1. Well, it is maybe a simplification but, most often a person yells in anger at somebody else, it is an outcry of frustration because all else failed to convince the other. So anger is often a signal of powerlesness.

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  4. great post, and i can relate. for years i tried to hide my anger but it didn’t go anywhere…only got stuck within and, similar to what you write, turned into an underlying depression. that is deadened anger, which becomes a ‘normal’ part of us. i’m also allowing my anger as compassion towards myself – something needs attention and when anchored in the heart (love it) it can be a powerful force for healing and transformation. thank you! aleya

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    1. Yes! Exactly, that anchoring in the heart and holding it there with compassion…I think it’s the only way we can learn to honour even these darker energies in us and let them live in a constructive, holistic way..
      And I think it’s so important for more people to understand how depression is often just a mask as it were for other “deadened” emotions that are too intense – this is why so many people feel ‘numb’ during depression..
      Thanks for relating Aleya :)

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