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HOMESpiritual Psychology

Anger – Feelings – Caring – Respect

Published on December 4, 2018

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Truth Speaks in Thunder as in Silence Sometimes it is in tune to speak out forcibly,confronting what we see and feel.And sometimes it is better to remain silent and in our center of peace surrendering to what the cosmic will is willing.The heart of true wisdom is to know the difference.

Discussions on power and on the world of emotions and feelings lead us directly to the subject of anger. Anger has a lot to do with either the expression of power or the helplessness we experience when we are confronted with other peoples power. Definitions of anger vary from being a body tension with a cognitive view of the world as being frustrating, irritating, insulting, unfair or assaulting to a literal demand from our internal being to pay attention to our essential needs and then to act accordingly. The biological or evolutionary view of anger is one of preparing the entire organism for rapid response to threatening situations. With anger the blood flows more quickly as heart rate increases and the rush of adrenaline generates the pulse necessary for vigorous action. The word anger really covers a lot of ground, from indignation to distress, annoyed, aggravated, keyed-up, intense, frustrated, ardent, zealous, and even excited. When we talk about anger we are talking about a family of strong ‘hot’ feelings.

Anger cannot be dishonest. George R. Bach

Anger describes an inner space and anger makes a person’s space easily visible. In anger our inner world lights up brightly for others to see. In this way anger is an honest emotion. Anger comes out when a person can no longer hide their inner world from others. Anger has the habit of breaking though all games people play.

Self-aware people tend to be autonomous and thus clear about their own boundaries. Such people are sensitive to when some natural limit is being reached or crossed by others. These kinds of people do not like to play games around important issues and will let you know in no uncertain terms what they are feeling. When someone commits and offense against us, or acts in a harmful way, it is natural to show some ‘feelings’ of displeasure. We can forgive a person easily but that does not mean that we are saying it was ok for an offense to have occurred. Whether we react or not, whether we get angry and loose control of that anger is independent of the objectivity of a given situation. Inappropriate anger can delay the resolution of situations but the repression of anger can be an acid that can do great harm to us. We escape the trap of judging anger when we can see it as more or less friend who reminds us when it is time to protect ourselves and or communicate in a strong manner. Anger is a cautionary instrument that serves us in crucial moments of interaction with others.

People have a very strong tendency to judge anger. We assume that the angry person is out of control of their ego not understanding what the word ego means and what the purpose of anger is; what it expresses. The minute we judge another’s anger we actually collapse into our own ego sense of separation for often when a person shows their anger they are really exposing their vulnerability. We think of vulnerability as something softer than anger as when a person shows us their tears. But the angry person can also be exposing themselves to hurt and rejection because people quickly tend to judge their anger.

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Anger shows a ‘strong’ displeasure about something. Reject not anger for it is expressing more than we imagine.

What that displeasure is about is very important. If we get angry because we are not getting our way it is one thing. If we are unhappy with another because they are not doing what we like, or things are not going exactly according to our personal plan, we have the smallest self-letting off steam. But we have the kind of anger that is aroused by something unjust, mean, or unworthy.

We call this indignation but it is still a form of anger. Modern Psychology understands that the universal trigger for anger is the sense of being endangered. This sense of endangerment is not limited to mere physical threats. It can include threats to self-esteem and dignity. When we feel that we are being treated unjustly or rudely or being insulted or demeaned there is a natural and often deep response within us.

In almost all household and community situations we find many common situations that provoke intense feelings. What do we feel and what do we do with a person who will not assume their share of responsibilities. After we have communicated our feelings to a person, many times, about them not doing the dishes, for example, we also have to face the reality of our communications and feelings going ignored. This naturally needs to arouse us to greater and more powerful communications, or in the end, to take decisive action.

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

– [Ephesians 4:26] Bible

In spiritual circles we put up high those who can sit endlessly at peace with a Buddha smile and we tend to judge those who seem more forceful. Beings have feeling responses and those responses can vary widely depending on the full scope of the circumstances. We tend to judge the angry person before we analyze the situation deeply. And often the angry person, who is totally out of control, is doing the same in reverse. They are getting angry before they too have all the information.

In studying the anatomy of anger it is helpful to understand that there are many levels and ways of its expression and experience. On the low end we see that anger is triggered by irrational thoughts, especially thoughts related to unconscious demands, desires, and expectations. The more intense and out of perspective our demands and expectations are the easier and more likely that our anger will be triggered frequently and intensely. Intense egocentric anger often runs parallel with fits of rage, violence, intense jealousy, possessiveness and poor communication behaviors. People with strong imbalances in these areas usually demonstrate low frustration tolerances, judgmental and demanding behaviors. But:

There is a another kind of anger that deserves our respect. A legitimate anger, one worthy of listening. Anger can be intelligent and can be used for creating meaningful and lasting change in our lives.Anger can show us where respect is being disrespected.Anger can show us something is wrong and needs correction.

There is an anger that transcends the selfish undisciplined ego. An anger that we can see in nature that delivers consequences and is ruthless and impartial. Pure righteous anger is not directed so much at individuals, it is not ego-to-ego. It is a feeling response directed impartially toward a whole system of wrongs. In general, when we love cosmically it is the divisions in human life that causes intense feelings, anguish and sometimes even anger. This of course flies in the face of many spiritual teachings that would deny any kind of anger or intense feeling.

In the real world the opportunity for peaceful dialogue is not always present and the use of some kind of force may be necessary to protect others and us from harm. There is a kind of strong feeling that runs with certain kinds of situations that drives us quickly into action. But some people think that emotional intelligence demands the we control our emotions and regulate our moods and impulses. Emotional control is an appropriate skill but there is real and present danger of us controlling to much. Our strong feelings are not just emotions to be controlled; they are internal calls to action, to attention, to the turning on of the full powers of our consciousness. The real value of anger is found in the moment it arises and the reason for its occurrence. Anger can shout to be careful. It can propel us to evaluate a situation more carefully, to pay attention with the full force of our being. Anger is a powerful call to pay attention to what is going on in our internal and external environments and to understand the relationship between the two.

If a man meets with injustice, it is not required that he shall not be roused to meet it?

– Henry Ward Beecher

Anger is that emotion that shows us our displeasure about something. Sometimes anger is caused by very real problems and as such not all anger is misplaced. Anger is often a healthy and natural response to difficulties that we must face with our total awareness on alert. It must be remembered that anger has its roots in the "fight or flight" response and that it summons up great reserves of energy to deal with and confront situations that are in need of confrontation. But Chogyam Trungpa warns caution when he says, "Don’t suppress anger but don’t act on it." Looking directly at and then through our anger to the roots of its causes is the challenge.

Anger is a cry for change. Change in situation, change in the self.

One does not usually equate anger with positive action. Most people associate anger with blame, "You make me angry." In this case the cause of the anger is in our thinking, in some judgment about who the person is and what they are doing. Blame is not the same thing as an intelligent call for change. And yet when anger is properly channeled it can change a person’s life; the same with feelings of disgust or revulsion. They also can propel us toward great surges of energy that will lead to change. Properly channeled, all of these kinds of more intense feelings can change our life. The person who feels disgusted is ready to throw down the gauntlet at life and say, "I’ve had it and I am not going to take it anymore." When enough is enough we finally decide deep inside that we don’t want to live with that something or someone who is disgusting us. Or with that part of our self that is constantly getting us into trouble. Sooner or later we are confronted in life with thoughts like "I don’t want to live like this anymore" and then we finally make a change.

Our strongest feelings and emotions call us to the alter of change.

The three main choices seen in modern psychological circles for the processing of angry feelings is expression, suppressing, and calming. The expression of angry feelings in ‘assertive ways’ has always been seen favorably as the healthiest way to express anger. When we ignore our anger or suppress it or judge it we are turning a nasty sword inward. Anger often is a message to get clear on what our needs are and to establish how in fact we are going to get those needs met. The expression of our anger shows a respect for our own feelings and respect for others who need to hear what we are feeling.

He that would be angry and sin not, must not be angry with anything but sin.

  1. Thomas Secker

Anger is so easily repressed especially when everyone is so ready to judge it. Repression of anger is actually the worst method of anger management causing serious medical problems like hypertension, depression, and cardiac dysfunction.  Anger can provide the motive force and the energy that allows us to stand up and fight for ourselves. The highest form of anger comes from the self that just wants to stand up for what is right. The hero inside of us wants to vanquish those dark forces. In this anger (strong feelings) can be both our shield and our sword.

We boil at different degrees.

  1. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Anger is an emotional disturbance, a reaction to both external and internal stimuli. Anger needs to be distinguished from aggression as anger is the internal emotion and aggression is the external behavior. As it is possible to be angry without being aggressive and to be aggressive without being angry, the two concepts cannot totally define each other. What is not clear to most people at all is that it is our personal involvement in the fight against indecency, against laziness and corruptness and contempt and uncaring and neglect and the deliberate hurt of our own and other peoples beings that marks our evolution and growth as beings. And in this fight or struggle that our strongest feelings are naturally aroused.

Anger is a great force. If you control it, it can be transmuted into a power that can move the whole world.

  1. Sri Swami Sivananda

There are some people who get angry too easily and there are others who just cannot seem to get angry when they should. Who wants to get upset in life and who on this earth is so perfect that they never get upset? For many people strong feelings of any kind is upsetting. When we define anger simply as a strong feeling we can move past our judgments and begin to listen.

"Anger is a signal and one worth listening to" writes Dr. Harriet Lerner in her renowned classic The Dance with Anger. Anger is known to be a completely normal, usually healthy expression of human emotion based on human caring.

Our deepest patterns of separation from others are revealed by other people in moments of their frustration and anger and even disgust with us.

There are certain things that we just cannot say to another without bringing up a lot of conflict and anger. No matter how calmly and skillfully we communicate, if we show another person that some action of theirs is hurting our inner world (creating or provoking strong feelings) they might react with anger. Whenever a communication drives us into those parts of our consciousness that we would rather stay out of, we react. Often our reactions are designed to take the ‘heat’ off of us by delivering a counter blow so we can with anger, and if the person who is communicating with us shows the slightest bit of ego, we will deliver the best counter blow so we can divert the attention from ourselves back onto the other. We hate to see ourselves as we really are so we automatically hate anyone who mirrors our blindness and this hate gets expressed in the more ugly type of anger.

But often there is a need to deliver a message, to make a communication. How do we get someone to listen? The softest and most peaceful means is to open our hearts and make a vulnerable communication that expresses exactly how we feel and what we are seeing and needing. But what does the being do when this type of communication is ignored? Certainly new and stronger feelings arise in the moment we feel ignored or when our communications are completely rejected. The more we try to communicate and the more we are frustrated the deeper our feelings of frustration and anger become. Violence is actually the communication of last resort. When all else fails and communication breaks down completely, many people resort to some form of violence. But the more we evolve and work on ourselves (ego) the clearer and more forceful our communications become and the less we need anger as a motive and drive of communication.

We cannot always avoid a confrontation with the forces of uncaring and negligence.When the being feels something wrong , when a being senses a disturbance in the universe of being,it must communicate or risk separating itself from its true self.

The further we go into our true loving being the more we become concerned with what is happening around us. There is one over riding law that governs the nature of all beings. Beings care. To be aware is to care. The true nature of being is love that is expressed as caring. To care is to nurture, to raise and to cherish. To care is to protect, to supervise and to consider. Carefulness and attention are essential qualities of caring.  When we care we pay attention, we notice and observe what is going on around us. The mind cares about itself because it pays attention principally to itself, to its own thoughts, rationalizations, concepts, judgments, emotions, and other thing of self-interest.

There is an anger (strong feeling) whose source is loveand this type of anger is a force to be approached with care for it has the power like no force on earth. The origin of spiritual fire expressed as anger is not hate but love not separation but oneness.

To be aware is to care and if we are aware of how we are feeling we will care to communicate which is a form of action. When we speak out what we are feeling and seeing, when we dare to express our caring, what happens? We run into walls. We run into the hopelessness of communicating anything meaningful because few people seem able to listen. People have a profound lack of ability to care for the inner world of others and they express this poverty with their inability to listen. And this does naturally provoke displeasure. When provoked far enough and fast enough even the most balanced or evolved person could flash red with anger. (The color of anger is red and that makes it a first chakra phenomenon.)

It hurts when others cannot feel, see, or hear our being.

Anger is a social emotion. Our beings were never meant to live with uncaring and separation. We were meant to live with love and caring. And thus it is quite natural for us to have strong feelings when love and caring are lacking in our social existence. Healthy spiritual and psychological maturation demands that we walk a delicate and narrow path between remaining centered when confronted with non-caring and the use and application of power whose purpose is the creation and protection of loving environments in our intimate spaces. When a person needs to express anger it can be an opportunity to bridge the world of our mind and being. There are skillful ways of expressing anger that maximizes the chance of being heard. "I feel angry, when you doubt me, or don’t believe in me, because I am afraid I am going to lose you," is very different from, "You make me angry." The word you is an attack and the other will rally to defend themselves against any perceived hostility. We are being blamed and we don’t like that. This makes us angry and we don’t like that either, our own anger. When we blame others for our anger we diminish the opportunity for real being to being communication. But when we express the anger with the finger pointed to ourselves saying, "I feel," we are simply expressing what is going on in our inner world. The second part of the communication, "when you doubt me, or don’t believe in me," communicates what triggered the internal emotional response, and the, "because I am afraid I am going to lose you," expresses the heart level, the hurt that is somehow getting transformed into anger. It is always quite different when our motive is to share inner worlds for the sake of creating healing and union. Blame usually backfires completely and leads to even greater experiences of separation.

A great problem with interpersonal life is that no doesn’t mean no to most people. Though when people say no, they most likely mean no, if no is not the answer we want to hear, we will not hear or really respect the no. Anger can deliver a no that will be heard. It is a preliminary to action. Neuro Linguistic Programming says that ‘we can measure the effectiveness of our communication by the response that we get.’ The way we communicate and express anger determines the response that we get from others. If we are looking for a certain outcome or response, if we are rightly demanding that a person stop a harmful or hurtful behavior, we will know that we have successfully communicated only when they have stopped that behavior. How loud we have to say no depends on the person’s ability to hear the communication. Our devotion to love forces us to say no to what is not loving and caring. We just need to say no to some things, such a simple thing and yet so difficult. Adults find it very hard to say no even though saying no is the first word we learn as children.

This is always a good reality test especially when dealing with anger. In the end even if someone is hurting us and doing something that everyone can see is irrational and aimed to purposely hurt and abuse us we still have to own the situation completely and choose our final response to that situation. Anger and rage result from our helplessness if we can do nothing to improve the situation but the same anger can also show and mirror our fear of just picking ourselves up and moving out of the situation completely. A being is under no obligation to accept the uncaring nature of its own or anybody else’s ego.

Nothing does greater harm to a man or a woman than feeling that your life is in danger and there is nothing you can do about it. Scientists have discovered that great changes in brain chemistry occur when there is a danger and there is nothing we can do to escape it. The feeling of helplessness is a terror from which the brain has a very hard time recovering. Many beings have confronted combat, torture, repeated child abuse, rape, and violent assault; each of these provokes a common biological and neurological effect when the stressful event is perceived as uncontrollable, thus leaving us helpless. When we feel there is something we can do we fare much better through traumatic experiences.

How we confront our greatest trials is crucial and anger is often present somewhere along the line. Uncontrollable anger will most often get us into uncontrollable messes. Aristotle talked about appropriate anger as the key. Being angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose offers a vision of true heart intelligence. Obviously he was a great being with a great heart.

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Director International Medical Veritas Association
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine

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