Friday, March 5, 2010

The Significance of Anger

This week I read something really interesting in the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron it talks about Anger, and she describes Anger as a fuel. And that most people tend to stuff it and ignore it, yet she suggests we listen to it. She calls Anger a map of our boundaries and it must be respected. But it also explains that Anger must be acted upon and not acted out. She gives a few examples like if you get angry when someone comes up with an idea that you had thought about a long time ago and this person makes it famous and it makes you angry. This anger is telling you to stop procrastinating and take action. Anger is meant to be used, properly. Anger is like a friend that will always tell you when you've been betrayed by others or by yourself. It will always tell us when it's time to act in our own best interest. It is an invitation to action.

This has been so interesting and useful. I need to work on absorbing this new idea as I've always had real issues with anger. I've always been afraid of anger. I had horrible memories of my mom being upset and punching her fist into the wall until it bled. Her anger was not directed toward me, but toward herself and that scared my 8 year old self. It made me equate anger with pain, physical pain. And I also have memories of myself and my cousin hiding in my grandparent's house while my aunt fought with my mom and my grandparents. I remember my aunt threatening to hurt herself or others, I remember seeing the bathroom mirror shattered by my aunt's punches. Being afraid that someone would get hurt, not feeling safe, with the uncertainty if those angry moments would escalate into something that would end in loss, or more pain. I believe I lived with people that didn't have a healthy way of expressing anger, and I never learned to express it properly. I associate anger with BAD, so if I ever start to feel angry my body automatically begins the process of convincing itself that the anger is not valid, that it's not reasonable, no big deal. Within minutes of starting to feel angry the anger fades, but as it fades it leaves a feeling of loss, of confusion.

If anybody where to get angry toward me, I will do one of two things, walk away or try and make the person happy again. Of course there are some exceptions to the rule, like when I get angry at my mom and she screams at me or my anger at her is too powerful at the moment, I will scream at her back a series of ridiculous statements that have no real meaning to me yet they represent an exaggerated version of the thing that I'm interpreting is coming from her mouth which is a total opposite of my true feelings. And example of this would be if she argues that if I send my daughter to school with her uniform and un-matching colorful socks that people are going to interpret that my daughter doesn't have parents who care. I will probably scream to her that I don't care for my daughter and people are going to feel sorry for her at school, when my true inner feelings are that if my daughter is in a uniformed school, and she wishes to express her individuality with pink socks, so be it. But I never tell her that. I guess I exaggerate her feelings in order to let her know how ridiculous her statement was. But according to Julia anger should be a tool, an invitation to action, so if my mom overreacts and freaks out when I send my daughter out with mismatching socks I should stand up for myself and explain that I believe in allowing children to express their individuality and that socks are not a big issue, that if people can't understand this, then I truly don't care.

As I write this I've been able to understand an underlying message, that I get angry when someone puts down my views, I feel discarded, unimportant, invisible. And that makes me angry. Maybe if I put Cameron's ideas into effect then I should take this anger that I have toward my mother's comments and take it as a sign that I have to stand up for myself and explain my views so that they can be respected. I have to work on that.

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