I have an outrageous belief that anger is very rarely a "primary emotion."
What I mean is that when we are angry, there is generally something underneath that the anger is merely compensating for or trying to express.
This came up recently with a male client who was feeling hurt and caught off guard with his girlfriend's pattern of lashing out at him and criticizing small and large things that he did, seemingly out of the blue.
There are lots of things that can be hiding underneath as the real cause of anger, but let's examine a few common ones and some strategies for dealing with the situation when it arises.
FOR WHEN YOU ARE DEALING WITH AN ANGRY WOMAN:
What's normally happening underneath is that she is either scared or has a need that isn't being met.
When you can remember that certain energy or constitutional types of women (and men) tend to lash out when what's actually happening is that they're feeling scared. Knowing this can help to have more compassion for dealing with them in the moment.
Remember, it's never about what it's about.
So, if you can muster up the composure in the moment where you are the target of a woman's anger (which is not always possible), you can ask something like, "I'm wondering if there's anything else you're upset about underneath...." "What are you feeling on the inside?"
Note that this is most feasible in personal and intimate relationships and would need to be modified in other social or work situations.
This can be a helpful re-direct for allowing a woman to get back in touch with her more vulnerable emotional side and get closer to the real issue under the surface.
In my self-mastery training, the Body Wisdom Academy, we teach energetic grounding techniques you can use to diffuse and navigate conflict without even using verbal queues which can be helpful in those situations where you don't have the social permission to engage deeply with the other person (ie. work and in public).
FOR WHEN YOU ARE AN ANGRY WOMAN:
If you're a woman and are noticing that you are frequently angry, "congratulations!". Noticing this and recognizing you have control over your healing means you can find ways to feel differently.
Step One: Take responsibility that this is your anger. Others involved may be acting poorly but ultimately you are in charge of getting what you need.
One of the most powerful things a therapist ever said to me (while I was dealing with a very angry person in my life) was, "Leslie, angry people are in charge of getting their needs met."
Step Two: Know that if you are feeling angry, you are likely not communicating your needs frequently enough, clearly enough, or in a way that others can understand. (....even if you think you are.)
This step actually addresses a huge chunk of anger issues.
Developing communication skills that share your needs in a way that actually inspires other (especially men) to help you meet them is an art, and one that has been one of the biggest breakthroughs in my life personally.
In my teens and early 20's, I often felt secretly angry and indignant, feeling like the people in my life weren't as giving to me as I was to them. I felt justified in feeling angry because it seemed like they should be doing something differently.
I came to realize that the real problem was that I was actually not letting others know what I needed or wanted, so there was no way for them to reciprocate.
I now teach women how to become "man whisperers" and to get their needs met in friendships and family relationships by using energetic communication skills on the path to self-mastery.
Step Three: Get in touch with what you're actually feeling underneath. To transform our anger into it's healthiest expression and to increase our feeling of inner peace, we have to get to the deeper source rather than just managing it on the surface.
Obviously the beginning step is to stop yelling at and taking out our anger on the people around us, but if we stop there, we'll just be suppressing those feelings and causing problems elsewhere.
Finding ease with our difficult emotions, feeling a sense of calm, enjoying fulfilling, loving relationships and the ability to engage in healthy conflict require that we do deeper healing work to clear the more unconscious levels of our energetic system.
This means doing healing work to uncover things like our current view of our self-worth, familial patterns we may still be carrying from childhood, and energy we've taken on that doesn't even belong to us.
While this may sound like counseling or therapy, that's only the very beginning.
Therapy is important, but it often doesn't make a big dent in angry or frustrated reactions.
You may have noticed this if you've been in therapy for years; you understand WHY you feel a certain way, but that hasn't actually helped you to naturally FEEL differently when the trigger arises.
What's required to really dissolve the angry patterns from the inside out requires an understanding of how the energy, mind-body-spirit system actually works from the inside out (which ancient healing systems already understood) and to couple that with energetic communication that ensures your needs and messages are most likely to be met by others.
ANGER AND FRUSTRATION HAVE THEIR PLACE:
The true function of anger is an acknowledgement that some higher principle or order has gone out of balance. It's healthy to feel anger when we witness injustice. Anger is a sign that something needs to be re-balanced or corrected, like a righteous warrior serving a higher good.
If you're frequently feeling anger and getting stuck there, likely there are some aspects of your inner world that are asking for healing. Addressing these will certainly lead you to a happier, more peaceful and fun soul path in your life.
May you be happy and free!!
Leslie Huddart L.Ac. is a Healer and Spiritual Guide with over two decades of experience in natural medicine, yoga and spiritual practice. Leslie helps women on a healing path achieve their Heart's Desires and the live the life they're called to.