It seems to me lately that our collective tendency to demonize anger is an evil thing.. Re-reading John Lee’s book on anger he takes a stand against those of his critics or those coming to one of his workshops that get scared of the anger releasing work he does and and tell him what he is doing is ‘unspiritual’ by encouraging them or others to express it.. As John expresses it :
(they) don’t feel safe expressing their anger because they are too afraid of contaminating the world with their ‘negative’ feelings.. (saying he is) ‘unleashing negativity into the room’ or ‘that pillows have feelings too’ (lol) … I say I consider myself a spiritual person, and I’m worried about the pain and anger many of us carry around. I figure if I can help people to get it out the Universe can be improved.
He goes onto explain that many of these people want him to help them ‘get over their anger’ but the point is anger does serve a purpose and even if we express it as a parent and explain why and take responsibility for those times we do inappropriately down load it onto others that will often help others, since we all carry some form of past anger and it needs to be understood.. And I do think there is an issue here between justified and unjustified anger.. Still it is a thorny issue for many who may have valid reasons to be scared based on their shadow or past.
In that section of the chapter Expressing Anger in his book Lee tells the story of a minister Tony who came to one of his workshops on anger. it took Tony some time to touch base with his anger (much of which was with his father) he also began to get in touch with feelings of hate for his Dad.. this may seem wrong to some but as the expression of Tony’s feelings transformed he then touched base with all of the love and longing he felt towards his dad.. In Lee’s words ‘he was bellowing it out.. and fell onto the couch weeping. Lee asks
Now, when was Tony most spiritual? When he was in denial about his anger… when he was beating on the couch and shouting how much he hated him? Or after he was through beating the couch and was overcome by his love for him? The answer seems obvious to me: after he had gone through the process and come out his denial, felt his rage, released it, and got to his deep hurt and love. He was much closer then to what I call spirituality, and perhaps forgiveness, than he had been before he did the work,
I tell (my spiritual critics) that for many years I was prematurely spiritual, just as I tried to be prematurely nice with everybody, Now, I say, I just try to be human and not frightened of my feelings. And my spirituality feels to em much stronger and deeper. I know many of my spiritual critics aren’t persuaded.
My therapist always tells me that anger is a cry from our True Self, that it has value but sadly anger can cause people a lot of fear as can the expression of grief : some people in the words of brain researcher Dan Seigel have a very thin or narrow window of tolerance for both. It took me a while to understand how my own grief triggered fear in my family and my anger got me in trouble.. It was not possible for them to understand the complex tangle beneath but even as I write this and think of how much my sister who died in 2014 and was so badly physically incapacitated used to scream and cry and writhe only to have meds forced on her and that Mum made attempts to understand sometimes, while shutting down and shutting her out at others I see how complex is the understanding of emotions at times both in families and in the wider culture..
To clarify, in his anger work Lee is not an advocate on anger being acted out on others indiscriminately, let me make this clear.. He is just advocating that we find a way to ex press it rather than de press it, i.e. move it out of the body and use it to help us know our value and values so we can set boundaries when needed or take down walls that may prevent present love from entering.. In this context his advocacy of the deep spirituality of anger being faced and harnessed for growth (most especially in our degree of fully embodied emotional maturity and literacy) makes sense to me..
Knots of anger can form in the words of Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Nhan and then get lodged in our body and that is toxic but that is due to the anger not being released from the body. There is a point that I have experienced that comes after a powerful rage release where you know it has left, some of the seeds will also remain and Lee makes this point towards the end of his book.. We will never be able for one minute in this life to change or magic away the difficult, painful, traumatic and wounding experiences that happened to us, but we do have a choice over how we come to terms with this level of damage and whether or not, in the end, we keep re-enacting it, either continually upon ourselves my inward self denigration, shame and internalized blame or outwards upon others via criticism or put downs or outright agression, violence, or abuse..
But one this is for sure anger is real and is a valid embodied reaction to what our spirits know to be wrong and also against psychological invasion.. Sick families that over run a child and then demonize that child for protesting are a toxic ground that sow the seeds for mental and emotional illness in their victims. Anger show us that injuries and our wounds are real, damage is (and was) real, it really did happen and it hurt .. a lot.. the 24,000 dollar question is what the hell will we do about it? And how lovingly can we soothe that wound after we through expression of the energy seek to come to terms with so many things in the past that hurt, damaged, scared, shattered or broken our positive spiritual fire and will.
We fight to exist. Personally, I am not ashamed of fighting to exist. We are doing no very extraordinary thing to fight simply because we do not wish to be enslaved or exterminated.