Anger: What can I do about it?
Anger. What a powerful emotion. It can be a very scary to be on the receiving end (or the giving end for that matter), especially when it becomes more extreme like rage. However, anger, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing, but it is a clue that something in your life is not working in the way you would like it to.
It is believed that there is a strong correlation between anger and anxiety. Just take a moment to think about it for yourself. In those moments where you are experiencing intense anger, you are also experiencing many of the same physiological symptoms in your body as when you are anxious. Your heart beats very fast, your muscles tense up and your thinking slows as you enter fight or flight mode.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we view anger as a sign that the Liver system may be out of balance. It is important that it be expressed without causing you or those around you physical, mental or emotional harm. In fact, expression of anger (even rage to a limited degree) is shown to promote healing in the body or at least prolong survival. Where as the repression of the anger (and many strong emotions) can cause a series of serious diseases in the body. So, how to you do releasing your anger in a healthy way?
Typically, people have two choices they can either;
Refuse to express their anger because they don’t want to hurt another or fear being hurt themselves OR
They can express it (sometimes violently) from a feeling of being personally threaten.
Both of these are the result of being quite fearful and anxious about the current situation. This is why in TCM there is a close relation with releasing anger held in the Liver while protecting your vulnerable Heart (where we hold our anxiety).
I have had great success releasing anger with a wonderful Qigong exercise called “Punching with a Steady Gaze”. This exercise invites the participant to punch away the anger and then bring in compassion to support proper Liver function. The exercise is performed as follows:
Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel with each other.
Form your hands into a fist with the palms facing upward and place each next to your hips
Find a place out in front of your to focus your gaze
Inhale to prepare yourself
Exhale and punch out with your right fist twisting it so the palm now faces downward. Simultaneously, let our a hearty “HA!” sound. (This healing sound will protect the Heart while helping you to release your anger. This is a very YANG movement).
Inhale and slowly bring the right first back to your right hip while twisting the palm to face upward once again. (This slow returning movement is to support the compassion - your healthy Liver energy - to return and fill your Liver. This is a very YIN movement).
Repeat steps 5 and 6 again for the left fist.
Do this for at least nine repetitions.
Take a moment to shake and let go of any residual energy charge while breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Finish the exercise by closing your eyes, standing still and taking a series of long, slow, deep breaths. Smile to your Liver (feel free to place your hands over this organ located on the right side of abdomen).
NOTE: This exercise is about getting rid of a strong emotion of anger. It is NOT about sending it to another, which may or may not be the object of your scorn. Let yourself release the emotion and the energy held with this state so that you can begin to move on. If you still need more support with your anger, then you might consider personal counselling to have a chance to dialogue about specific issues.
We all need to have those moments to rid ourselves of frustration and anger. Let’s consider ways, like the exercise above, on how you can support your healing journey while protecting those around you. We don’t have to live in fear of our anger. Actually, we need to see if for the resource that it is and use it to compassionately shift the areas of our life that are uncomfortable and unhealthy. This will help you embrace the healthy boundaries you need to make it through the difficult patches.