Did you know that suppressing anger comes at a cost for your nervous system?
Anger is a messenger of self-protection. If you were a child who had an emotionally unavailable parent or an abusive parent, there was likely a chronic experience of helplessness and powerlessness. As we get older, anger is often the first emotion to surface in the early stages of a healing journey. This can lead to confusion, intense feelings of shame and guilt, and the urgency to manage it with cognition and behavioral control.
But anger is a messenger.
It is a protective response to something our nervous system perceives as unfair or threatening. Anger is also a way of protecting ourselves from feeling overwhelming pain and sadness. We learn to do this when we are young, because when we were young, we felt like it wasn’t safe to show these intense emotions. So we bottle them up and store them in the subconscious brain. They are connected to specific bodily sensations that have been shut down and resurface as anger, a more acceptable emotion that makes us feel less vulnerable. That’s why anger can be triggered by things that don’t seem to make sense.
When we are healing, it’s important to create space to process our anger and understand the emotions it is trying to protect us from. This exploration will lead us to something that we need to accept and then let go of, both physically and emotionally.
This is what causes us to stay stuck in the anger and shame cycle.
Next time you feel angry and overwhelmed, try this:
- switch to a kind, compassionate voice and speak to the little wounded child inside of you.
- Allow that sadness and pain to be let out
- Feel all those body sensations
- Let the message be heard
After the messenger has converted their message, it can be released from the body… and that my friend is how we begin to heal.