Dealing with anger can be an elusive process. For myself, I have done work around getting to the root cause of anger which entails discovering in a present moment the state of identification that is causing the anger.
No amount of anger expression gets rid of the root cause.
It is just an endless strand of anger expression. If one does not address the root of anger, then there is a need to have to express it somehow somewhere.
One will always feel wronged, cheated, hurt, if there is identification with the way things “should be”.
I found that my displaced anger decreased immensely many years ago when I realized, discovered and understood with all of my centers that I was conditioned and programmed to see things in a certain distorted perspective in regard to the way things should be. If things were not that right way in my conditioned world of likes and dislikes, then it would bring up a regressed state of anger.
Perhaps meditation can relieve some of this identification, but there is no substitute for daily self observation to detect what this identification looks like. If a situation is highly charged and negative emotions abound, then one can rest assured that one is in a state of identification. Also, sideways anger occurs because one has triggers lodged within from the past that are activated through present situations.
Our anger then is not actually occurring from the things at hand but from unresolved past events that have formed our view of things. It is reignited by current events that remind our “system” of the initial response.
Our ego, (Parasite as it was called in the book, Mastery of Awareness by Dona Bernadette Vigil) feeds off anger. If one fights the expression of anger in a struggle with one’s own ego, another kind of energy is produced. I am saying that one can find one’s way to freedom of anger, not by suppressing it or expressing it, but by questioning its existence in the first place and studying it in the moment.
Keeping it in front of you as it happens is going to make a huge difference. You don’t have to fix it, change it, or suppress it.
I also have looked to small children when studying anger. If you notice, tiny babies up to age 2 or so do not have anger. They simply have a crying response that is for survival and calling for comfort. Once a child has their ego developed at around age 3, their domestication or “conditioning process” has begun to create and solidify their likes and dislikes. When they don’t get what they want, it causes an anger response. At this point, a parent will usually try to make that child suppress the anger or tell them their feelings are not legitimate or shouldn’t be that way.
Unfortunately most of us are and have been raising children to develop their likes and dislikes. When they don’t get what they like, want or think should be, then anger ensues. If we are not consistent with clear boundaries, we feed their likes and dislikes. I think we can help our children by trying not to encourage these likes and dislikes. When they get angry, it is a learning curve to understand that we can’t always get what we want or deserve, that people don’t act the way we want them to and that that is just the way it is. We can acknowledge children’s angry feelings and try to see beneath the behavior to find out what they really need.
If they have an expectation that they only get what they want or like and never have to do what they don’t like, imagine the problems later in life. This is not just about not giving into their whims. Life itself will provide many injustices that they must learn to accept and forgive. If children are protected from making mistakes or feeling pain, they have a very low threshold for dealing with reality. I know the trend has been all about giving children choices, but I am not in agreement about that actually. Serving dinner, for a simple example, with no other options has taught my children to eat what they thought they didn’t like. I don’t make deals.
The more I try to please my child with what they like and avoid what they don’t like, I have helped develop someone who is swayed by negative emotion when things don’t go their way.
Anger is manifested in so many ways in our society because it is utterly suppressed. We are not “allowed” to look at the dark side. We are taught in religion that the shadow part of us is bad. Our anger as a society is more than coming out sideways; it is pervasive in all cultures from media violence, war, discrimination, domination, isolation, to bullying and self mutilation.
We must find a way to look at our anger when it arises with a struggle to not act it out, but to acknowledge that it is there and not suppress it.
To do this, we must come to have enough attention and inner presence to be on the look out for impending volcanic eruptions and notice our body, our feelings and our thoughts simultaneously (three centers). This type of inner vigilance can only come from daily practice so that we are ready before the cat gets out of the bag. Sitting with those feelings without acting upon them will reveal the truth about what they are for us and where they may be coming from.
A great exercise the next time you feel angry is to notice your body between your throat and your pelvis. Notice where there is tension, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, pressure in your chest, a tightened stomach perhaps. Just sit with these physical sensations and notice this anger within your body, not defining it, not stopping it and not expressing it. Let it remind you of past bodily sensations that have felt the same way. Perhaps you will have a memory of this same physical feeling that will lead you to more information about what is really causing your anger. What are your thoughts at this moment? You don’t have to relieve the anger, you simply need to see what your body has to say to you and let me know what happens.