Attending to Anger

“Anger is an appropriate reaction to racist attitudes, as is fury when the actions arising from those attitudes do not change.” —Audre Lorde, “The Uses of Anger” (Sister Outsider)

In my first post launching this blog (back in November 2016), I wrote about anger. I found myself sitting at the computer screen, typing “Arrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!!” I felt completely inarticulate, yet full of emotions—called to write, though struggling to find words.

Today I’m finding the words more quickly. I’m creating and yet still craving more and more time to write. Despite feeling that writing is helping me learn/process/release anger, my body is reminding me that there’s still much more to learn, process, release—and heal.

Anger is important. It can be a mobilizing force. It alerts me to injustice. It helps me wake up. Yet, I also need to recognize when I’m experiencing anger so that I can work with this fiery, passionate, and potentially brutal emotion.

Currently, my body is throwing different sorts of illness at me, reminding me, as Thich Nhat Hanh does, to attend to my anger. Because I believe that illness can act as an alert, I find it instructive to look for meaning in Deb Shapiro’s Your Body Speaks Your Mind: Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness and Louise Hay’s app Heal Your Body. Here is how Shapiro and Hay connect symptoms to emotions:

  • Urinary infections = being “pissed off.”
  • Kidneys = criticism, disappointment (e.g., “lumps of undissolved anger” manifesting as kidney stones).
  • Conjunctivitis = anger and frustration at what you’re seeing.
  • Earache = anger and not wanting to hear; too much turmoil.

I know I’m not alone in the experience of my body alerting me to anger. It seems that so many people around me are sick (hence, how I picked up pink eye), and even those who aren’t sick are expressing more overt sadness, hurt, exhaustion, or related states of being.

So, today I thank my body for its wisdom and its reminder not to downplay or ignore anger. I’m still thinking about how I’ll tend to my anger, and I’d love ideas! Please share in the comments … In the meantime, here are my resolutions for the week ahead:

I plan to check in daily about how I’m feeling and to write through these questions:

  1. What emotion(s) do I feel today?
  2. How is this emotion showing up in my life?
  3. Why is it likely here, at this time? What might it be teaching me?
  4. Is this emotion alerting me to take any action or to do anything? Or do I just need to see, name, and honor this emotion?

In addition to journaling, I plan to give my body what it’s asking for. This includes cranberry smoothies, warm broths, and both probiotics and garlic in many forms. It also means eliminating sugar, as I can see that anger and stress have sent me on a sugar spiral, which, in turn, has weakened my body’s immune system (though I’ve also been gifted clear messages about anger). And it certainly means prioritizing more time for meditation and movement—activities I now realize that I’ve been de-prioritizing in the midst of turmoil.

Finally, I need to return to an old friend of mine, the mantra “I trust the process of life.” What’s interesting about these illnesses representing anger (those I’m experiencing in my life at this time) is that they seem connected to control and stasis. Instead of using anger as a generative or mobilizing force, I seem to be keeping it in (e.g., holding onto experiences, criticism, or disappointment) and shutting it out (e.g., not wanting to see or hear).

Certainly, my body wants to be unleashed: it’s done being gated/shielded/guarded. Holding onto anger without attending to it has been burning me up (literally through fever—another sign of anger) and burning me out (as in the problem of burnout).

So, to honor anger, I choose to work with it. To work with it, I choose to live bravely.  And to live bravely in the world at this time, I choose to imagine possibilities, to trust in Divine protection/guidance, and to see and hear with love. So, going forward, I repeat:

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Author: Beth Godbee

I’m an educator living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with connections to many places, including East Tennessee, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. I write from my identities as a white, feminist teacher and researcher; reiki and yoga practitioner; hiker and vegan. These commitments lead me to think and write about intersectional identities, embodiment, power, and rights, among other matters. My deepest commitments are to equity, justice, and peace. In this blog, I document my ongoing efforts, struggles, and attitude of “try-try again” to align with these commitments.

13 thoughts on “Attending to Anger”

  1. Our bodies bear witness to our emotions, speak a language often hard to read. A long, persistent cough I still have makes me wonder what breath I am expressing or holding, what my body needs from me in its most basic form of breathing in and out, receiving and giving.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Anne! In case you’re interested, here’s what Louise Hay says about coughs in her app Heal Your Body A-Z:
      Probable cause: “A desire to bark at the world. ‘See me! Listen to me!'”
      New thought pattern: “I am noticed and appreciated in the most positive ways. I am loved.”
      I can affirm that you’re truly loved. I love you. And thanks for reading and commenting on my blog. I’m heading to acupuncture today with hopes for an energetic boost toward healing.

      Like

  2. I’ve been having bouts of anxiety lately, and with them the panicky feelings of “something else” wrong with my body (that is probably phantom.) Not sure where it’s coming from as I don’t feel like I’ve been particularly involved in U.S. issues while living in The Bahamas (there are enough issues here, although I do feel guilty about my lack of involvement…), but sometimes I think we take on the feelings of the world, or at least those in our immediate area, don’t you? I find it hard to discern what comes from where…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sarah, it sounds like we’re asking similar questions, including how we pick up energies from others and how we support ourselves at this time. In case you’re interested, here’s what Louise Hay’s app says about anxiety:
      Probable cause: “Not trusting the flow and the process of life.”
      New thought pattern: “I love and approve of myself, and I trust the process of life. I am safe.”
      I needed to hear this new thought pattern today, too: may I TRUST more fully … something I’m working on big-time right now. 🙂 Beth

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your words and those of your readers resonate deeply, Beth. I have just come from an ultrasound of my throat and thyroid where suddenly a painless mass, identified by my acupuncturist. In a few weeks another for gut distress. I feel the anger/anxiety/fatigue of which many write. And I pray for health, healing and whole hearted living for us all. May we walk with Love and Spirit as our Allies, friend and family by our sides, new ones in the wings…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Katharine, may I echo your prayers and stand by your side. I have a lot of hope about the world we can create, the healing we can engage, and the “ought to be” we can enact. May we find our way through shedding the old and bringing about the new. More immediately, I send love and healing for your throat, thyroid, and gut. Some mantras from Louise Hay, in case of any of these resonate with you: “My intake, assimilation, and elimination are in perfect order. I am at peace with life. I open my heart and sing the joys of love. I move beyond old limitations and now allow myself to express freely and creatively.” All best, Beth

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Katharine!
      Reading Mystic Mamma now. I particularly love this line: “There’s tension afoot, we’re being pushed to change, we are right in the midst of dissolving and creating…” And do you know Chani Nicholas? A similarly wonderful write-up about this week: .
      Sending love, Beth

      Liked by 1 person

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