The Art of Being: August 2021

The Art of Being
Deborah Chandler, Ph.D.

August 2021

Anger releases the energy of repulsion. In contrast, love releases the energy of attraction. I ask myself, “How do I want to engage the universe?”

There’s no doubt, anger sets off vibrations. In a feedback loop, anger begets more anger as it ricochets between people. Once this reciprocal action begins, it’s difficult to back down. Why? Because, with anger we are fighting to have it our way. With anger we are demanding to be heard and to be right.

What does anger do for us? When we’re angry we feel strong, puffed up. We feel untouched by disappointment and rejection. Anger helps us create an illusion of power. This is an illusion based on fear.

in its relationship to fear, anger is often triggered by the awakening of traumatic memories. Traumatic memories are not mediated intellectually. Trauma in encoded in the cells of the body and can be awakened by sensory associations. These associations could be to a smell, a sight, a pain. Once triggered by the traumatic associations, the body is ready for fight or flight.

Anger is part of trauma’s aggressive protective response. I may awake from a bad dream, triggered and ready to defend myself. I have to remind myself that I am safe, breathe consciously, and begin to lower my reactivity. Otherwise a defensive anger leads off my day and reverberates through my activities.

Like any bad habit, anger starts off by giving a false sense of security. Slowly that security gives way to self-doubt and loss of confidence. I could either intensify my anger, driving forward for dominance. Or I could back off, address my inner pain and choose a better way to operate. This brings in the wonderful virtue of humility. Acknowledging being wrong has its own solace.

Sometimes anger seethes under the surface. We act as if nothing is bothering us. But anger leaks out. The more we try to cover it over, the more we subtly communicate our dissatisfaction in ways we call passive-aggressive. So I may say I support your efforts, but show up late and unprepared when action is called for. You hear my words of support but you see my actions and feel the lack of support. With his conflict between words and actions, we have the delicate task of not getting trapped on either side of the mixed message and carefully extricating ourselves. A gracious thank you for the effort helps, with a follow-up of no further expectations of support.

Anger informs us of our unresolved hurts and fears of rejection. When we allow anger to lead us into self-inquiry, we learn more about ourselves and how we can more lovingly relate to others.