I had a momentous breakthrough this week.
I wrote about my experience with and fear of anger a short while ago, and this week something finally clicked.
My experience with anger can be summarized by: suppression, suppression, explosion, fear, suppression. I thought the way to break out of this was to find a way to express rather than suppress anger, but trying to do that, I ran into a wall.
When I expressed what I thought was anger, I was usually blaming or just being plain old mean. I knew, logically, that blaming is not productive and that being mean is not my goal.
Both are interesting. Both are weirdly pleasurable in that first moment, in that first release, before you’ve really had time to process. But neither one is actually expressing the anger.
Expressing anger honestly confounded me. For weeks, maybe even months now, I’ve been trying to figure out a healthy way to express anger. I’ve been reading articles and seeking guidance. And I have felt no closer to an answer than before.
I started boxing a couple of weeks ago thinking that will be a great way to let the anger out. Except I usually forget to be angry when I’m boxing. I’m too focused on the movement. And then I chide myself for another missed opportunity to express my anger.
Then, this past week, it dawned on me.
It dawned on me in a mindfulness training I was taking at work (how lucky am I, by the way)! One of the instructors was describing the way he physically felt when he was angry. And something fell into place in my brain. A connection was made.
Anger is a feeling, just like any other feeling. It doesn’t necessarily need to be expressed, it needs to be acknowledged and gently processed.
I don’t need to find a way to vent my anger every time I feel angry. And while, hopefully, boxing can become a healthy outlet for anger when I do need to do that, I don’t need boxing to process anger.
I just need to breathe into it.
I need to notice where I’m feeling anger in my body and I need to focus my attention there, just for a little while. I need to label it.
I probably need to remind myself, compassionately, that everyone experiences anger and acknowledge that it must be a little scary for me to do so.
And maybe I can ask if there is something I can do for that anger then. If not just sitting with it for a moment instead of ignoring it is enough.
With time and kind attention, like all other feelings, anger will pass.