According to the healing modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), anger is viewed as a sign that your Liver system is in a state of imbalanced between the yin and yang energies. The more intense the emotion, the higher rate of imbalance. This can cause many health issues in the body because the Liver, working with its partner the Gallbladder, is in charge of your tendons, your nervous system and your eyes and eyesight. The body’s reaction to anger (yours or others) can vary from headaches (even migraines) to stress/anxiety to the nervous system being stuck in a hyperarousal state of fight or flight. This can vary considerably based on the level of anger within you or directed at you. For example, when you are mildly frustrated about something it doesn't effect your body like a bout of rage would. In fact, rage is viewed like a strong energy wave crashing down on whoever or whatever is the focus of its wrath.
This low vibration emotion is the bane of many. It can be quite overwhelming in its intensity, duration or outward expression. While anger in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, per se, it can cause us to loose sight of the bigger picture. We can get lost in this emotion and the force of its power within our grasp, however, when we calm down many of us feel like we have dropped from a high cliff into a deep hole of guilt and/or depression for what we just experienced. Our nervous system can feel shattered and maxed out. This is especially true when we let the energy come out in unhealthy and/or violent ways.
So let’s look at anger, and its organ of origin, the Liver, from a TCM point of view. The Liver in TCM is considered a wood element organ (from the five elements of Qi consisting of wood, fire, earth, metal and water). If you have too much anger in your body, you can burn all the wood in your elemental constitution and this can also drain the Kidneys (water element) of all its reserves. After awhile there is not enough water to put out the fire. Also, the Heart (fire element) can be overwhelmed by this added fire resulting in a lowering of healing energies of passion, love and harmony at your disposal. Both the Spleen (earth element) and Lungs (metal) can be hurt as well, especially with any unexpressed (internalized) anger, which gets directed inwards flowing into the lungs and transforming into depression over time, whereas the Spleen resembles a scorched earth from all the fiery anger.
If you are looking for some beneficial ways to work with ongoing anger so that you can move forward, please check out these videos for healthy forms of expression.
Punching with a Steady Gaze
Healing Sound for the Liver
Meditation for a Healthy Liver
On the flip side in TCM, a Liver is in balance shows up as compassion, which will be directed both inward and outward. It can be felt by others as a positive energy field emitting around you, which makes you more attractive and approachable. It can also show up as a strong individual who has beliefs that he/she is willing to stand up for all the while remaining flexible in their thoughts and attitude. These traits can help you find more compassion for “what is” with less need to lash out at situations and/or the attitudes of those you don’t agree with. Anger blocks your healing flow, while compassion opens it.
There are many ways to bring more compassion (and thereby less anger) into your life. Here are a few possibilities:
Use your creativity to bring more energy into expressing your life purpose.
Creativity is the ultimate expression of wood element and Liver. It can take many forms (like drawing/painting, movement/dance, photography, writing, etc.) though it must include permission to express yourself fully and support your movement forward. The wood element doesn’t like to feel stunted in its growth, which can cause frustration and anger to develop. Express yourself regularly to keep the flow open and the creative juices rolling along.
2. Try to not see your anger as an enemy to be conquered…
Anger is valuable information about a possible disharmony that your thoughts are stuck in how things “should be” instead of where they are currently. Patiently try to examine your thoughts (the more creatively the better) for places where you feel you need to control the activities and actions around you as well as the individuals who are a part of these situations. Ask yourself these questions (it is best to do this during a calm time to allow for more honest answers).
Where can you let go of any anger you are holding on to (even a little bit)?
Where can you offer some empathy or sympathy for the other in this situation?
Where can you support your greater good and most authentic self?
Is this really a fight worth fighting? Is it best to walk away?
Is this the best approach to take in this situation?
Looking back, how might I like to do that again with more awareness of what would serve me and the other(s) the best?
All of these questions, increase awareness within yourself and help you find new pathways for the energy that went to anger right away and now can be directed elsewhere. Most of all, remember to be gentle with yourself. It isn’t easy to shift set patterns, but as you practice this over time you will begin to notice small changes at first and then bigger ones. Perhaps, you have a shorter duration of anger or maybe less intensity behind it. You might have new insights as you are in the midst of your anger about how to work with this issue better next time (or this time). In TCM, a healthy liver is about the energy of learning and growth, so know that any time spent on this will support your healing journey going forward.
All the best,