Why pure anger is an evolutionary tool & how to work with it

“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.”

{ Maya Angelou}

How much permission do you give yourself to feel your anger? To be with the hot, surging fire in your belly that wants to rise up into your throat and explode out of you like a volcanic eruption?

Ok granted, acting on this urge isn’t always the most constructive way of expressing that anger – but to be able to express it in any way at all, we first have to feel it and be willing to stay with it.

What is your relationship with your anger? How does it show up in your body?

Often when we repress a strong emotion it comes up as something else (a more ‘acceptable’ emotional state). The alternative is that the unexpressed anger is turned inward, in which case it can end up being expressed as self-destructive behaviour. Are there any patterns in any self-destructive / unconstructive behaviour you have that might be related to unexpressed anger?

Anger invites us to welcome intensity, another reason we often shy away from it. There is nothing about anger that is tame, quiet, controlled. Allowing ourselves to connect with this raw, raging emotion brings us closer than we usually are to our primal core, which can feel shocking to our ‘civilized’ conditioning (that revolves around controlling and neutralizing (neutering) emotion).

Two types of anger

There are two main forms of anger;

1. Ego anger (arises when something interferes with our ego wants/needs)

2. Pure anger (shows up when something crosses our core boundaries/values)

Ego anger comes from not having our needs or desires met, which are often subconscious and triggered by patterns of behaviour that originate in lessons learned at a young age. This anger can usually be traced back to thoughts (framed as beliefs) about our own worthiness (it can show up in an immature form as demandingness), is based in fear and feels contracted and ungrounded.

Pure anger (something I also like to refer to as “righteous rage” because it has that sense of Truth to it), is sacred – it lets us know that an important boundary has been crossed. In contract to ego anger, this state originates in thoughts (“beliefs”) about justice, either on the scale of us as individuals, or as it relates to others (people, animals, nature). This anger comes with a gut-based conviction – this is the Mama bear anger that will fight to the death to protect what is most important to her; it feels powerful and expansive.

Ego anger is human and we all get triggered sometimes – they key is to take a breath and watch it rather then simply reacting. Pure anger is an evolutionary tool, and we need it now more than ever. It is crucial that we allow ourselves to feel it, that we dare (because it can feel pretty powerful when we let it flood through us) to create a container for it because we have got some serious clearing and space- holding to do in order to shift things in the world.

And the role of the feminine has never been more needed.

Our awareness of what is unjust, of how things could be done with more grace, compassion and integrity, of the wellbeing of the whole community rather than the individual, is the key to creating the necessary changes in the global cultural ecosystem.

Mature feminine anger

One of the main reasons many women fear anger is because of the examples we have of it being expressed as modeled by the immature masculine (an adolescent level of consciousness, as opposed to the mature masculine, which represents an adult masculine awareness).

The mature feminine way of expressing anger (in contrast to the immature feminine reaction, which often looks like a toddlers’ temper tantrum) is to honour ourselves and honour others at the same time, seeking to be in compassionate awareness with the relational context in which the anger is arising.

Our hearts are alchemists of pain.

Feed the heart pain and, if you breathe with it long enough whilst holding it there compassionately, it will offer you the wisdom behind the pain, a compassionate response that serves all, and peace. Bringing our anger up through our hearts before expressing it effectively ensures that we will respond in a way that honors our values and integrity, meaning that no matter how it is received, we will be at peace with ourselves.

Anger, pure anger, needs to come back into the world through us in a new form, channeled through our hearts and brought with a loving intention into the world.

Righteous rage

The things that bring up pure anger are the things we feel most strongly about; there is often a hint of purpose and direction for our lives embedded within this passionate response.

What brings up your pure anger? How does it affect you?

How does this get expressed n your life? If it is not currently expressed, would you like it to be, and if so, what are some ways you could imagine integrating it?

Many of us carry around old anger that was never expressed – this often shows up as resentful or cynical thoughts and impacts the way we relate in the present – it’s important to bring this into awareness, express it (through journalling for example, or perhaps some good old fashioned pillow bashing ;)), release it (a ritual burning of the journalling is a powerful way to release), and forgive yourself for having held onto it (internalized anger harms us; when we feel the weight release it is often accompanied by grief around the impact it has had on us).

Is there any old anger it’s time to let go of? How do you want to release it? What would you like to shift in your connection to anger?

7 steps to work with anger constructively

  1. Notice what is happening in your body and stay with the sensation
  2. Name the emotion as anger
  3. Ask why it’s there
  4. Explore what the cause of it brings up in you (emotions beneath the anger)
  5. Notice what thoughts are linked to those emotions (what are you making it mean?)
  6. Connect to your heart
  7. Feel the anger at the same time and, bringing it up through the heart, express what needs to be said for you to have peace

Anger has huge power in it; when we harness it, we can move mountains with its force.

Treasure your anger, hold it’s flames with love, and it will transmute into strength.


{ Third in a series of 4 excerpts from the upcoming Wild&Free Workbook }

3 thoughts on “Why pure anger is an evolutionary tool & how to work with it

  1. Hey Stephanie,

    I’ve been zipping about…away from blogs for awhile.

    In the past I’ve held pure anger at a simmer for extended periods…it produces clarity – of purpose and direction as you’ve stated, but in some ways it can be difficult to put down / let go of after awhile. There’s a seductiveness in prolonged anger / rage which can be rather difficult to extricate yourself from.

    Watch out for the scarring and grief! :)



    1. That’s a great point Mark! I met someone this week with exactly that issue. I think the interesting thing is to practice knowing which is which, and to build the capacity to use the pure anger, rather than letting it use you ;)

      Big hug and love, and many beautiful wishes for this new year!

      Liked by 1 person

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