“Ruby, you said you wanted to punch me!”
“I know, Emma because that’s the truth. When you make me mad I want to punch you, but I won’t actually punch you, so I scratched you instead.”
Ruby turned to me, with her button nose sprinkled with summer’s freckles, untamed wispy blonde curls, untainted blue eyes and protruding bottom lip — the quintessence of innocence, “I’m sorry for what I did. Mommy, when I get mad I don’t think so good.”
“That’s why so many people are in jail! “ Emma exclaimed. I chuckled at the truth in her statement.
Anger is a part of us — an emotion that cannot be removed or discarded. Anger is a necessary piece of our human puzzle, and without it, we aren’t complete.
I think we can’t know love until we love our anger.
Anger causes the dysfunction, dis-ease and discontent in our lives when we ignore him.
Here’s how I think of it:
We all have muscles in our bodies, and it is our choice to exercise our muscles, shape them, and mature them with the intention of keeping our skeleton safe, enhancing our wellbeing and promoting our longevity. If we don’t use our muscles, they will atrophy — jeopardizing our quality of life, causing injury, pain and degeneration. For instance, if I have weak abdominal muscles, I will have back pain and joint pain as a result.
Our emotional muscles are the same; if we don’t train and sculpt our emotional muscles, we will experience problems in other areas of our lives (interpersonal relationships, career, creativity, productivity, mental and emotional stability).
If we don’t exercise our anger, it will result in externalized symptoms, such as lashing out at others or engaging in self-abusive and/or addictive behaviors.
If there’s one thing I notice about anger it’s this — Anger is an athlete. He needs exercise and lots of it. He is nourished through activity.
I’m not a proponent of the “sit with it” prescription. “Sit with your anger and meditate on it.” Fuck that. My anger needs an outlet. He’s got the quads of a horse and the endurance of a cheetah. If he doesn’t get up and sprint every day, he carries the destructive force of a nuclear bomb.
He needs my attention just as much as my happy muscle. He needs to be validated, heard and loved. Yes, loved. The way to train my anger is to love him and accept him.
“Go get your pillows.”
The girls leapt off my bed and ran to their room, returning in under ten seconds. “I want you to scream into them as loud as you can, and then I want you to punch them as hard as you can. I want you to keep going until one of two things happen — you start laughing or you can’t scream or punch anymore.”
You would’ve thought I was handing them a vat of ice cream and two spoons.
They went to town. They went medieval on those pillows until they started laughing. Anger was laughing. Anger was joyful. Anger felt loved because they paid attention to him.
Our emotions are not to be feared, they are to be revered, acknowledged and used to their capacity, every day.
When I feel angry at others or myself, that’s the symptom. I know what the problem is — I didn’t pay enough attention to him that day, so I put on my suit and I take him for a swim, or I take him for a walk, or we write together, or we cry together.
I know he’s had enough exercise when I feel less reactive, and I can “think good” even when I’m mad. ~Rebecca