top of page

Respecting Anger (2)

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

I think there's a lot of wisdom to seeing anger, as a signal and as a message. And to see anger as a signal means that then we would slow down to see what is it a message of? What does it signal? What is it a symptom of. And rather than giving free rein to anger, giving into anger, without a deeper reflection and looking in mindful practice, it's kind of like a bumper sticker would say, I stop for anger, in order to really attend to it and see what's going on.

There's a lot of energy in anger. And that energy we have, we want to be able to use in a healthy way, an appropriate way. And it's not always appropriate for ourselves or healthy for ourselves, to follow along to give into the anger and the expressions of anger without some deeper respect and attention to what's going on there. So I think it's a good policy to think of anger as an invitation to stop and take a deeper look at what's really going on here.

So there's two very interesting areas of what's going to be about anger, First, in terms of what else is going on here is that anger can be a reaction to something we're feeling inside. And in fact, it might be useful to assume it's always a reaction to something we're feeling inside. Even though overtly, we might think we're being angry at something outside of us. We might be angry, you know, at the technology. It’s technology's fault that I'm angry. But the byways of anger is that the technology is not working, not working meets my desire for it to work to have everything go smoothly. I have a certain kind of desire to experience that technology and user desire, and that desire then is frustrated. And that frustration is uncomfortable. And that discomfort is something I don't like to feel. So now, I'm reacting to the discomfort to the frustration, and I want to fix something in the world. And that gives birth to the anger towards the technology.

Or it could be that the technology we have is very important for us. And without it working properly, what rises inside is fear. And the fear is uncomfortable. So it could be that the anger arises because we don't like to be uncomfortable. It isn't so much a way to maybe don't like to be afraid. But we just simply don't like to be uncomfortable. Or it could be that we don't like being afraid. And so we're blaming something, we're attacking something. We're directing our anger in some direction. And it could be externally and it could be internally. There are all these different emotions, difficult, uncomfortable emotions, we can feel inside, that are too uncomfortable for our system to feel. And so we want to blame, the strength of anger can arise out of an inability to stay present for something that's internally uncomfortable. So the message of anger is in that case, is just that there's something happening here that I'm uncomfortable to feel. Don't be sidetracked by the so called technology that which is external, because whatever is happening external is going through a few different steps inside of you to become anger. People are very quick to justify anger.

And inevitably, if I gave a talk on anger, it seems like someone always want to justify, isn't it okay to be angry in certain circumstances. And, yes, depending on how we define anger, it's never okay to be hostile. But what it misses when we justify even justifiable anger, it misses an opportunity to understand ourselves better. And that's what we want to do within this mindfulness practice. And as we understand better the steps that happen internally before anger occurs, then it's also possible to stop earlier. If there's fear, to stop and experience the fear and discern “is there another response to fear and other way of going forward”? That doesn't require anger. When there's fear, is there frustrated desire? When we recognize that there is a different way to go forward, rather than get angry at technology, the desire can be reassessed. Can we have a different relationship to frustration? maybe one of the possibilities isjust let ourselves be frustrated, and not have to expand or grow into what we would call anger.

Anger is sometimes a message of what's going on more deeply with us. Sometimes anger is a sign that we should look and see what's happening in the world, that the world does need our attention, that something is the source of the anger in the world. And that also has to be taken into account. And may be, it can be seen and understood and responded to better when we kind of relax around the anger, and looked at the fear or the discomfort of loneliness, or the despair, and all the uncomfortable emotions that might be the trigger for anger.

If we can learn how to breathe with those and in rest with them, then we can look out towards what's happening in the world. And, and not act unconsciously from the anger unwisely from the anger and then study what's happening here? What's the situation like? So one of the things I like to use anger for is as a reminder. To study the situation, study what's happening in me, studying what's happening externally.

I want to say a few more words about this inner study to oneself. I said anger is often a result of difficult emotions that are preceding it in a sequence of steps. But sometimes anger is the preceding step for other emotions. For example, we might feel angry. And then the reaction to that is to shut it down, to be ashamed or to be embarrassed or to be afraid to be angry towards the anger. So there can be reactions to anger which are not so healthy. Many years ago, I read someone who claimed that the most common cause for psychosomatic illnesses is repressed anger, or even just anger by itself. People get angry enough and they can have a heart attack.

Sometimes depression is a symptom of repressed anger. And so for some people, giving a certain degree of freedom to anger that's been repressed is really important. Discovering their anger is necessary. Many years ago, someone taught me that we experience our strength, their strength in anger, and if we let go of anger too quickly, we might let go of our strength as well. And the strength we want to keep and and so if we are too quick to let go of anger, we might be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. And that's why I find it inept and invaluable to do one of two things when I'm really angry. One is to sit and meditate and really take it into account and really be present for it. And the other is go for a long walk. And there's something about the long walk that allows the anger to have different kind of freedom then when I'm meditating, and he courses, courses, courses through me, and I just kind of keep into my body, keep paying attention being here for it, until something deeper about it is revealed until I understand some key part of it, that's the trigger or the key thing that's holding it in place.

So anger as a messenger, anger as a signal to be respected as such. And if we repress our anger and hide our anger,we just get bottled up. It can be very unhealthy psychologically and physically. So giving some expression or some amount of expression is the right word, but some allowance to feel anger and be angry, for some people is very important. So they can study the anger so they can stop and look at it more deeply, and see what is going on here. So anger as a signal, anger as a message or anger is always a secondary phenomenon, a secondary response to something often a secondary response to discomfort, some kind of discomfort that we're experiencing inside. And that the anger to things in the world, or even anger towards ourself, probably has gone through a number of steps before anger arises, some other emotions or their attitudes or their beliefs in sequence happen until it becomes anger.

So you might, if you have an opportunity to that you end up being angry today. You might take your time to really study it, and look at it and see what might be underneath it or what the what might be the trigger for the anger internally, not to a trigger that's happening in the world. And to see what the other emotions are, they're connected to it. And if you ended to end up the day, without any anger whatsoever, but you're not feeling well. If you feel depressed or, or sad or despairing in some kind of way. You might want to take a little peek underneath that and see if there's some anger that might be there. You won't necessarily see it there. But sometimes that can be a key that can unlock some of the forms of depression despair that people when they're stuck in it. Hopefully these simple words, give you something to look at and study.

source: Audio Dharma

10 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page