asked by an 8th grade student
One of the most important things in dealing with our feelings and emotions, including anger, is to be able to accept the fact that we have these feelings. Every emotion is just an expression of a certain energy and if we don’t accept that we have it then it is difficult to learn how to express that energy in a most positive way. If you feel bad about feeling angry then it will be difficult to learn how to use that energy. Actually, with any feeling, one of the most important things is to remember it’s your feeling and to do your best not to blame other people for what you are feeling. This is a very big step to take.
I would suggest that with the feelings you have try to think of them as a child who one day will become a mature adult. A child needs to be shown the way, taught and helped to bring our the best within him or her. It is also like this with our feelings. Sometimes I say that every feeling is waiting to express itself in the most positive way and be lifted onto the throne in the heart and, like a king or queen, receive its crown. In the heart we can experience love and acceptance and it is my experience that everyone wants to be loved and accepted. It’s the same with our feelings. However until we learn how to express feelings in a positive way they can cause us trouble.
Very often anger has to do with our need to feel powerful and strong. If we haven’t learnt to express our power in a good way early in life we can end up with a big anger problem! Years ago in Denmark parents might say to a child, “your power is in my pocket”! That meant the parents decided over the child and any attempt the child made to say “no, I don’t want to do this” or to make decisions himself or herself was met with resistance or punishment. Later these youngsters would have difficulty feeling good about their power and their right to decide things for themselves. Then one day that power would burst out as anger – like a volcano!
When we don’t know how to express feelings we tend to try to blame someone else for these feelings. Imagine one day you are feeling anger arise. It is quite possible something someone said or did awoke this anger in you and you might start shouting at this person. But it is your anger and you have to take responsibility for it. To be able to do this is a big step forward! Until you can do this you might even end up hitting someone! That might make you feel better for a while but it is not the way to go – this is not power being expressed in a positive way. If you can accept your feelings then you can begin to express them in a more mature way.
Anger is a very powerful energy and you need to find ways to express it. Eg: express it physically by running, boxing into the air, going outside and shouting to the trees and to the sky. Then feel the energy running through your body. You will feel strong and you will not upset or hurt anybody. This is a good start. Martial arts are also a fine way to learn to use this energy.
Later you will be able to watch anger arise and breathe with it and if you breathe into a feeling you don’t get stuck in it. It will just pass through you. If you can accept anger is there you can ask why something made you angry. Don’t judge yourself for feeling angry.
Another thing to remember is that sometimes things need to be said in a very powerful way. For example: if you see a big guy in the playground bullying someone, hitting one of the small children perhaps, this will not be solved by you beginning to hit the big guy. However, if you can say powerfully “no, no, no – this is not OK” or just keep your head cool and get some help for the one being bullied, then you are using the anger to deal with a situation where something does need to be done.
So just remember that every emotion you can possibly have wants to be able to sit on the throne in the heart and receive its crown. It will then be able to express itself in a positive, useful way.
A few more words
If you feel very angry stop a minute and try to breathe deeply. Look at why you are angry. Perhaps you need to say something to somebody about how you feel.
You can be angry and still be in your heart – do you understand? You can breathe deeply, feel your heart and say to the person who has made you angry, “I don’t like that you said this to me.” You can explain why and be honest about how you feel. Please remember you can be angry and still speak form your heart and that’s very different from screaming at someone or hitting them.
You can take a deep breath, feel you heart and say, “Please don’t speak to me like that ” or “Please don’t treat this child in this way” or say whatever you need to say. You have to express things, but try to find the best way of doing so. This is also the teaching of spiritual science.
You can read in an earlier edition of the Awakener what we also spoke about last time. People often have to ask these questions about anger because everybody gets angry sometimes. Please don’t feel guilty about it. You understand?