Eight Stages of Anger

Anger. It is a subject not discussed very much, nor do we like to admit to it, especially to ourselves that we are angry. But it is still there not matter how much we try to ignore it or distract ourselves from it. Just like toxic waste buried in barrels into the ground that eventually seeps into the water and causes a chain event of lethal deaths, so too does unaddressed anger. It can take on a variety of forms: passive aggressive, cynicism/criticism, channeled into obsessive behavior such as work/working out/hobbies/shopping/gambling/addictions, self destructive behavior, and lastly taking it out on others.

Since I have been one who has had difficulty in using my voice to set boundaries or let someone know when they have been hurtful, I had become masterful at being passive aggressive. From early on I was taught not to speak back to authority figures nor elders. They were always right and always had the right of way. Always and in always. Being a girl, society also told me that we were “sugar and spice and everything nice”. Thus girls were not supposed to get angry, just like boys were not supposed to cry. These adages and paradigms of restricting expression are cruel. They prevent a person from being a fully expressed human being and processing normal life emotion in a healthy manner. It is confinement of the Spirit. It is like caging up the Spirit. It is putting the Spirit in a straitjacket.

When a person is continually stuffing down, suppressing, and oppressing their anger or tears, eventually, just like a volcano, it reaches a boiling over point. Hopefully at this point, one has the presence of mind and the humility of ego to reach out for help and heal in a safe and gentle manner.

Boiling Over Point (Image credit: CNN)

Until I learn or learned how to use my voice to set boundaries or let people know that their words or actions have caused me deep pain, I was one who kept “turning the other cheek”, stuffing it down, and using passive aggressive means as forms of coping. In hindsight, I now see a pattern.

1. Awareness of Anger or Justified Anger

Just like Jesus was righteously angry at the exploitation of pilgrims at the temple, so too are there times in our lives when others have truly caused us hurt, pain, loss, suffering. When we become aware of anger, a feeling of indignation begins to rise up: part of it is at the other, and of part of it can also be at ourselves for allowing it. At this point it is wise not to act or react because at this point we can be at the mercy of our emotion. This can be dangerous and can be like pouring gasoline on the fire/heat of the moment.  At the awareness point, it is wise to take a deep breath, step away, process the anger, then dialogue with the other. Depending on your expert level of awareness and ego refinement, the step away moment can be a few seconds or a few months/years.

2. Payback: The Silent Treatment  

In my novice years of anger management, or rather anger suppression, the only way I knew how to let the other person know that they had hurt me was to withhold my “love/attention/me” from them. I used the silent treatment until I felt they had “suffered enough” for their misdeed.

3. Space for Healing 

On the flip side, I also now see that this silent treatment period was a also a period of healing. Since I did not know how to communicate my feelings of betrayal or dialogue about it calmly, I needed the space and time to process, heal, and forgive.

4. Personal Responsibility 

When we are slighted we can feel like victims or like life is happing to us, rather than for us and because of us. Being in victim mode or having that mentality is an invitation for more misdeeds against one’s self. We keep recreating the same scenarios and slights. The people and places may change, but the same transactions keep repeating themselves. At this point we need to do some deep Soul dives, self reflections, and recognize how we have contributed to or even invited such personal affronts.

5. Rewire our Thinking and Behaving 

Upon taking personal responsibility for how others treat us, we then have the work of rewiring our minds of what respect looks and feels like to us, how we communicate our boundaries in a graceful and effective manner, and lastly behaving in such a way that invites respect from the self and others. This stage takes a lot of work and a lot of effort. But I have found that when we are working on a new self-evolution project, the Universe sends us MANY and abundant opportunities for practice and growth.

6. Forgive 

It is so very easy to stew and to marinate in our anger or silent treatment or acting out. If we are not careful we can stay in this phase for months, years, or even decades. Lord have mercy! If we are not careful, our pride and self-justification or self-righteousness can build a house on our anger, rather than just temporarily pitch a tent upon it. The healing time is a time where we build faith in ourselves, life, and the other(s) again. This is a time when we become strong and whole whole again. Forgiveness is a decision. It is work. It is a Gift we give to ourselves and all of humanity. We are the ones who benefit the most from forgiving because our journey becomes lighter and more joyful.

7. Move on. Love, trust again AND maintain healthy boundaries or communicate what is and is not appropriate. 

After healing and forgiveness we live again. But this time, we take and employ our newfound personal responsibility, self-respect, voice, strength, and communication skills for a healthy and joyful life.

8. Gratitude 

The final step in forgiveness is when we look back and see just how much we have grown, learned, evolved, become stronger and a more complete and whole person. At this point we realize that the slights and hurts were a Gift as they helped us transform. They were for our benefit and refinement. We even get to a point where we are grateful to the person(s) for the lessons and grown that their slight brought to us, if we do the work of forgiveness. It can be done with and abundance of Grace and Humility.

Anger is an indication that something is not right. It is a warning light. It is an invitation into healing when we step into it and embrace its lesson. Let yourself express your anger in a safe and healthy environment that does not hurt another. Do not judge yourself when you are purging yourself of these dark emotions. Always keep in mind, you are not these dark emotions, they are just the byproduct of a challenging experience.

Forgiveness is Beauty.

Ask, invite, beseech Divine help in your forgiveness journey. Do the work They present to you. You will be in awe and wonder at all the miracles along the way.

Abundant Grace, Wisdom, Healing, Humility, and Forgiveness,                                      Irena As I Am                                                                                                       03/27/2018

D+Anger = Danger

D(enial) + Anger = Danger

The denial of anger could lead one to danger.

“The anger of a friend toward a friend, and the anger of parents toward their children – and of God toward men – is not a storm that uproots the tree, but a wind that strengthens the tree, and rids it of rotten fruit, so that the healthy fruit will increase in number and beauty.”  St. Nicholai of Zica

This is a very interesting perspective on anger. This anger journey I have taken, or rather, The Flow of Anger, took me on its journey. It was like getting into a river raft boat and heading down into class five rapids where one gets tossed about and tossed out. But, I did not even know I was angry. That is the scary part. I was so unaware of the deep deep deep underlying seething anger that I just plodded along on life’s path by covering it up, running from it, and dealing with it in two ways: being a super-being, and being a passive-aggressive being. The super being me showed up being as super positive, super congenial, super people pleasing, super accommodating, and, in super denial. That is one side of the coin. The other side of the coin my anger came out by my being passive aggressive. I would be angry on the inside, pleasant on the outside, but my actions  revealed my true inner state. Rather than facing and expressing my feelings, or god-forbid, me discussing my feelings, I would counteract with my stubborn stance. It was subterfuge. It was a veiled protest.

Even though I was a married adult woman and a co-partner in a successful business, underneath it all I saw myself as a girl, a little girl. This inner little girl, about five years old was the real person showing up in the adult life. She did not know how to stand up for herself, speak up for herself, and provide for herself. This little girl had to maneuver and navigate in an adult world and in her adult body, even though her emotional developmental age stood still and had not progressed past her tender five year old self.

She did not see nor feel herself as an adult, nor the successful businesswoman everyone said she was. But rather, she saw herself as this little girl pretending to be an adult. It was a scary high tight rope she was on. She was tip toeing on egg shells. She was doing her best to please the adults and their expectations. Like a duck is drawn to water, this little girl had two imprints on her that dictated her attitude and behavior. The first being – little girls are to be seen and not heard – thus, stay quiet, keep quiet, and, the corner is your place of abode. The second being – little girls do not get angry – it was a big No.No.No! The expression of anger was not allowed, it was shut down, it was frowned upon, it was not the way sweet little girls ought to behave. They must be sweet at all times.  (Note: “Must” is a word that i disdain now.)

Oh my! Dear Lord have mercy! Abundant mercy at that! Not just a dollop scoop of mercy. Not just a bucket full of mercy. Not just an ocean full of mercy. But the Eternal Mercy of the Cosmic Consciousness of Christ.

Interesting Side Note: Since I grew up this way, observing more that speaking, my observation skills became laser sharp and super astute. I became a masterful surveyor of human interactions, nuances, and intentions. I also became an accomplished listener. I was the go to therapist for adults and strangers. In this respect, I advanced well beyond my years. See, there is always a blessing in everything, even though we do not know why at the time and even though it may seem  like an injustice. God always uses the clay of our lives to make something beautiful, in time and with patience. Then there is the deeper and more eternal perspectives of Soul Contracts, Karmic Debts, and lessons needed for growth. These were some of the other reasons for why I was set up the way I was by the Cosmos in my journey. Deep deep deep are the layers.

Add to the above formula or imprint the Christian mentality that was in my head: turn the other cheek, forgive forgive forgive – seventy times seven hundred, and anger is not a Christian virtue. Oh no, not anger – a good Christian girl/woman does not get angry, let alone display anger – no no no, a big ‘NoNo’ at that. Oh yes, I would on occasion point to Jesus turning over the tables in his anger, but then I would quickly retract and laugh, out loud. It was my way of putting my toe in the water of anger, but not actually swimming in it. I did not think that it was acceptable, nor did I even know what that would look like. I had to learn how to express my anger.

Now I am not saying that I never got angry or expressed anger, because I had. But it was superfluous anger, not working with and through the real source of it,  and it was projected at people and things that were irrelevant to the truth of my anger. It was at small slights. It was at world events. It was at politicians and leaders. It was directed at things, events and people who had nothing to do with the cause of my anger and were not even in my life.

Meanwhile, deep within me, like a volcano, the anger fire was building and rising slowly to the top being stoked with each occurrence. It was dormant for a long time just hovering at the surface but not exploding or boiling over. YET!

Volcano boiling over after stewing a long time. (Image: CNN.com)

I now see the expression anger as a basic human function and necessity, like going to the bathroom. Who in their right mind would deny themselves the gift (and joy) of the relief and release of going to the bathroom.  Emotions are just like that too. The two are analogous. We have a life experience. Likewise, we eat a meal. From each meal our body savors, processes, digests, absorbs the nutrients, and lastly releases the leftovers, the waste. No one would even think of holding it in for days, years, let alone decades. If it does not come out, it becomes toxic and lethal. Likewise with emotions. We have a  life experience. It can bring us joy or heartache. Joy, laughter, and the rainbow emotions are very socially acceptable in their expressions. It’s the shadow ones that are shunned, shut down, and discouraged. We the people are very uncomfortable when someone has or is expressing the shadow or the moon emotions. We try to distract ourselves and others. We deny them. We ignore them. We stuff them down deeper with food, substances, sugar, work, sex, and obsessions over gossip, sports, politics, hobbies and other people’s business. We runrunrun from  them by being busybusybusy. But that does not erase them nor negate them nor heal them. Healing them is by feeling them. Healing them is by stopping to look at them, acknowledge them, name them, and express them in a safe manner that does not harm others.

I know. I’ve been on both sides of the coin: the denial and the healing. In 2008 I  was in a marriage counselors office when the counselor said to me a most preposterous and false (I thought) statement and question,

“Why are you angry at your parents (and a number of other people).”

My knee jerk response was,

“I’m not angry at my parents (and a number of other people).”

(Note: The stronger the denial, the deeper it is buried and suppressed.)

Oh my! Lord have mercy! Mercy on me! Mercy on the heavens! Mercy on all the people in my life! Mercy on the next TEN YEARS of my life.He not only opened a can  of worms or a Pandora’s Box with that question, he opened up a cistern full of toxicity and set the tone and theme for the next ten years of my life. Such a simple little question did that.

Just the awareness and then the acknowledgment of anger, or any issue, is, I feel half the way to healing. One can not heal or work toward wholeness if one is not aware nor willing to admit that there is a hole that needs the Love and Light of God. But once one says, “oh yes, I have a booboo” and then if one invites and invokes  Divine Assistance in healing the pain, the prayer will be answered.

The journey of anger and working with it and through it was
HEART WRENCHING, emotionally taxing, physically exhausting, and
humbling humbling humbling humbling. I thought it would only be a few months or so, but it ended up being YEARS. When there is decades worth of built up anger, When the anger was not in my awareness, When the anger was suppressed, oppressed, ignored, denied, covered up, not socially acceptable to bring up or discuss or work through,

THEN

the Healing also had to be radical to get me to acknowledge it and then have the courage to work with it and through it, until it was all out and healed.

I also realized, or rather it was shown to me, that I did not want to (and that it would not be wise to) live or go through life with that “toxic energy” in me and worse yet, seeping out of me onto those I encountered and loved.

This was all done with an ABUNDANCE OF GRACE.                                                           i am Humbly Grateful,                                                                                                                          irena as i am                                                                                                             02/08/2018

PS                                                                                                                                    Now, my encounters and engagements with the other(s) is MORE AUTHENTIC, grace filled and LOVING because there is not this ball of “uckyicky stuff” between us. The communication lines & channels are more clean and more authentic by the Grace of God.

How i processed and dealt with that anger…well, that is another story for another day.