I’m always teaching the importance of recognizing what it is we are feeling, and giving ourselves permission to feel it so that we can come out on the other side of it. Because on the other side of that emotional energy that’s trying to get our attention is an incredible amount of information and fuel for our lives.
I remember a friend asked me after a yoga class to help her figure out what to do about a cheating husband. Advice-giving is something I try to stay away from, because I believe the answers are within us if we can get quiet enough to receive them. So I asked her to close her eyes and tune into the sensations in her body and tell me what it was that she was feeling. After a few moments of just checking in and practicing deep listening, she opened her eyes and said, “I’m so angry!” Then she asked again, “what do I do?”
I asked her to close her eyes and breathe right into the sensation of all of that anger, accepting and welcoming it fully and completely so that that energy could inform her. Our emotions always have a message for us. But if we can’t let ourselves admit to them, or feel them, we miss out on that communication.
At my encouragement, my friend closed her eyes and started to feel some of that anger that had been building for a very long time. This wasn’t the first time she wanted to talk about it. But as soon as she started to touch the edges of that anger, it became too much and she opened her eyes and wanted to start talking about it again. The talking about it is a wonderful distraction from having to feel it. It gets us into our heads, and out of our hearts.
Wanting to hold the space for her to gain her own awareness and insight, I encouraged her again to close her eyes and simply breathe into this sensation until she felt something shift inside of her. She could only do this for a few seconds before opening her eyes again and trying to start another conversation about it. There was a lot of story wrapped around that energy that was keeping her from feeling it.
Finally, after a third try, I realized she just wasn’t ready yet. And that’s okay, too. We have to be very gentle with ourselves with this stuff. The truth is, we’ve never really been taught how to handle our emotions, and we have very few good role models showing us how to do it. Intellectualizing our pain is what we do here in the West.
If she had been able to continue to breathe into it and stay with that sensation, all of that energy would eventually have transformed something inside of her. She would’ve come out on the other side with her own answers and clarity. That energy would have empowered her, being turned into fuel for her life. And then any action she would have taken would have been driven not by anger, but by resolution … by self-love.
Women, especially, have hang-ups around feeling anger. We’ve gotten a lot of messages that women don’t get angry, or that is unattractive to get angry. Therefore so many are driving that energy deeper into their own nervous systems because they don’t know what else to do with it. And this is often times at the root of so much of the depression, anxiety and stress-related illnesses that have reached epidemic proportions in our society.
So, the next time you are feeling anger, choose to recognize that it can be very valuable information and fuel for your life. In this way, anger is a gift.
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