Did you know there are various ways to express anger?
For many empaths, the very word is enough to send us off into our fight or flight response. That was certainly the case for myself. Sitting alone in meditation in Ecuador I realized how much my own anger was getting in my way.
Many of us have been told that our anger is wrong. That we shouldn’t feel angry and when we do we are bad. “Good girls” don’t get angry. Somewhere along the line it became customary for us to swallow our anger. To pull it back into our body rather than allowing it space to escape.
Anger is just another emotion. Often it is a response to our boundaries being violated. It is always an indicator that something is not right for us. Most of us miss the early warning signs that anger is coming around the bend. Signs like frustration and irritation. These signs are indicators that there is something in our life that needs our attention.
Sadly most of us just push this energy down or away rather than take it for the gift it is.
There are 3 types of anger that we can experience. They are passive aggression; open aggression; and assertive anger.
Passive aggression generally happens when we’ve learned that anger is not an okay emotion. It comes into play when we are uncomfortable with confrontation and/or uncomfortable with our truth. We learn to swallow our anger and turn it inward. When it does come out it is snarky, and sideways.
This is for those of us who when asked about being angry answer no. Everything is fine. I’m fine. It’s fine.
This response can be extremely confusing for all of us when we are on the other end but especially as an empath since we can feel the misalignment that is occurring.
Passive aggression stems from a need to control scenarios. If we are people-pleasers we have learned that as long as we keep our anger passive there is a semblance of safety in our life.
What we saw growing up
A second style of anger is open aggression.
Talking about open aggression can be quite upsetting. This is the aggressive nature that is often seen in the form of rage, verbal attacks, yelling or actual physical fights. For those of who grew up in households where this style of anger was present there can be a real visceral response when anyone becomes angry with us. It is terrifying to our nervous system when we see it.
On the receiving end the mere idea that someone might be angry with us can also send us right into our frozen state.
This anger stems from a desire to be in control but in reality it is when we are least in control. We have lost control of ourselves and for those who are around us this can be very frightening.
Depending on what line of work you are in there might be times when you have a client or customer get aggressive. In an ideal world you want to be able to handle this aggression while still staying present in your body. This is the work I do with clients. Helping them expand their window of tolerance so that they can be present and stay connected with themselves.
Both of these types of anger are not healthy expressions of emotion. In the first one, we are lying to others and often ourselves. In the second case, we are out of control.
Neither of these feel good for anyone. Not those who are witnessing nor those who are experiencing these within themselves.
The best kind of anger
The third type of anger is the one that we should all be striving for. It is a healthy expression of emotion where we are fully in control.
The great news is that with work and awareness you can learn to regulate your nervous system regardless of what is coming at you. Knowing which form of angry expression is the one you normally use is the first step in moving towards a healthier expression. Keeping in mind that anger is just one of a range of emotions that we need to be able to feel and express.
Assertive anger is the third type of anger. This form of anger comes into play when we are aware that our boundaries have been violated. Knowing we are angry but we are still in our bodies in a controlled, confident manner. We can share our feelings, and thoughts from a place of empowerment. Being aware of what is wrong and knowing it needs to change.
We share our thoughts and feelings from a place of strength. When we are able to stay in this space we have a solid sense of our own self worth.
Allowing yourself to experience anger from here make you a mature, self confident being. In assertive anger, there is capacity for forgiveness. Forgiveness of ourselves and others for mistakes made.
Anger in your business
When you are unable to express anger you are creating a kink in your energy. Instead of having the energy move through you in a healthy way it gets stuck. This creates dissonance and an internal struggle where your body wants to express itself and can’t.
When energy stops being expressed in a healthy manner it has to go somewhere and often this can turn into various forms of dis-ease. When you are unable to feel your emotions especially the strong ones it puts you at risk of letting others bulldoze your boundaries. It leaves you in a situation where you are not in charge and instead are letting other people dictate the rules for you.
A gentle reminder for you that all of our emotions are needed. All emotions including anger are important. Even as an empath. Each time we can expand our range of “acceptable” emotions this is healing in action.
You might also be interested in this article I wrote about releasing our trapped emotions.