How’s Your Dance With Anger?

A Chaotic Dance With Anger

I had a very chaotic dance with anger. Often I found myself screaming with fire, body held in frigid tension when situations raged out of control (which is often if you live around those struggling with substance abuse disorders). I took the actions of others personally, allowing this victimization to leave me angry and disgruntled about my life and “where I had ended up”. My physical body began to revolt, digestion issues, headaches, body pains, right sciatica, ovarian cysts…..I held onto anger like a sword, ready to protect myself with the slightest confrontation. 

So Much Anger 

When you live around addiction, anger becomes second nature. Watching those you love struggle with the constant, uncontrollable need for substances, devices, or any other form of addiction can leave you furious for a numerous reasons. Below are some of the most common sources of anger in my clients. What resonates most for you and your experience living around addiction? 

I get so angry…..

….that they won’t just stop drinking or using, why can’t they just stop. 

…that life is so confusing and chaotic, nonstop swirling madness. 

…the destructive cycle never ends, and our family never has any peace. 

…finances are always a mess, there is never any money.

…I only recognize a shell of a person, the drugs have taken over their entire personality. 

…conversations solely revolve around the addicts and their struggles. 

…life around the addicts is dangerous and I constantly live in fear, I don’t feel safe. 

…they go to rehab, I am left to do all the work. All responsiblities are left to me, as usual. 

…I don’t know where they are, if they are dead or alive.

The Cost of Anger

According to The Department of Health, “anger triggers the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. Other emotions that trigger this response include fear, excitement and anxiety. The adrenal glands flood the body with stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Then the brain shunts blood away from the gut and towards the muscles, in preparation for physical exertion. Heart rate, blood pressure and respiration increase, the body temperature rises and the skin perspires.” This constant flood of stress and chemicals that are associated with metabolic changes that go with ongoing unmanaged anger can eventually cause harm to many different systems of the body.” From headaches, insomnia, digestions issues, depression, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes, our body does not respond well to unmanaged anger. 

Sometimes anger builds slowly, with soft repression. When seen as a “bad” emotion, it’s easy to stuff it down, bottle it deep within. This can lead to intense depression and anxiety. Often unloading this energy to innocent parties such as pets, children, coworkers without warning. Other times anger unfurls in an expansive explosion. Blasting without control, emotionally and sometimes physically destroying all in close proximity like a raging typhoon. 

How to Dance With Anger 

Whatever the cause of anger, when you allow it to run wild, without taking inventory of the reason it’s appearing, your life operates without clear perspective. Thus hindering your ability to clearly see reality and devastating your health. 

I mean, from instant explosions, to pent up passive aggressive deliberate trickles…..I’ve experienced and witnessed many forms of anger, as I’m sure you have too. Harriet G Lerner, Ph.D. in her book “The Dance with Anger”, explains anger as a signal. “A message that we are being hurt, our rights are being violated, that our needs or wants are not being adequately met, or simply that something is not right.” 

Brene Brown eloquently explains anger as “a catalyst. Holding on to it will make us exhausted and sick. Internalizing anger will take away our joy and spirit; externalizing anger will make us less effective in our attempts to create changes and forge connections. It’s an emotion that we need to transform into something life-giving: courage, love change, compassion, justice.” 

In her book “Atlas of the Heart”, she goes on to summerize her 20 years of research on anger like this:

  1. Anger often masks emotions that are more difficult  to name and /or more difficult to own. 
  2. Just as an indicator light in our car tells us to pull over and check things out, anger is a very effective emotional indicator light that tells us to pull over and check things out. 
  3. Anger, in response to experiencing or witnessing injustice, pain and struggle can be a powerful catalyst for change. But by definition, a catalyst sparks change, it’s not the change. 

So remember, anger is merely a tool. Trying to help guide you, and shine light on areas where change is needed. Showing you what is no longer working, and where you might be able to navigate life differently. As you begin to notice how anger shows up in your life and what the “indicator light” is trying to tell you, you can begin to understand the magical catalyst that anger can be in your life. 

Why We Heal

Finding awareness of your anger, and noticing what message it has for you is a process. Your anger is in response to the “injustice, pain and struggle” that accompany the journey of loving those struggling with addiction. Often, as a way of survival, your nervous system has learned specific behaviors in order to cope with the challenging situations. You might be exhausted and sick, reactionary and exploding at the drop of a hat. Or joy is completely diminished. Have compassion, for exactly where you are right now. Know that with time and practice, you can heal your dance with anger, regulate your nervous system and reclaim peace. 

I was tired of feeling “out-of-control”. Noticing that the choices of others were dictating my levels of happiness. A perpetual feeling that I was “allowing others to steal my joy” by always being fired up about their actions. This initiated my desire changing me, instead of focusing on changing them.  

I desperately wanted to reclaim control over my peace, and find a way to regain power over my reactions to those around me. I was tired of chronic physical ailments. My largest catalyst though, was the legacy I was passing down. My actions were horrific, my anger was out of control. I had become a mirror to my grandmother…hostile, victimized, resentful, manipulative, unhappy. If I wanted to break the generational trauma and leave a different legacy for my daughter, I would have to change.

What is your major catalyst to begin healing your relationship with anger today? 

Changing Your Dance With Anger

Today I leave you with two simple movements for shifting your anger energy. NOT in the effort to eliminate, but to manage and listen to it. Over time you can build resilience within your nervous system, and dance with anger more gracefully.  This resilience is part of the natural process that results when you decide to heal your sensitive or traumatized nervous system. 

Through body-based healing, you subtly begin to rewire the old patterns in the brain, and begin to connect to those clues that manifest through your physical body. 

That boiling heated feeling that surfaces in an instant when triggered with anger. 

The tension constricting ease of movement that tightens the fists and toes. 

Or the loud boisterous sounds that emanate from your vocal cords, blasting destructive bouts of sound to anyone nearby (and maybe the not-so-nearby folks, depending on the decibel of the agitation). 

However your anger shows up, your body gives clues, a way to communicate to you that something is off, out of balance. Could you begin to listen to the clues, before they get out of hand, shifting the energy in the physical body and let it help you gain perspective on the entirety of the circumstance? Noticing what the body is sharing with you as it leads up to the explosion. Finding curiosity in the awareness of anger and its messages? 

QUICK Anger Energy SHIFT 

A QHICKSHIFT is a simple way to shift emotionally charged energy. A combination of physical movement and affirmation that safely shift charged up emotions. Once you’ve noticed the messages from your body, pause and see if you’re able to break your traditional dance with anger. Could you find a new rhythm?  Use this QUICKSHIFT to move your ANGER energy when activated.

Affirmation: This shall pass, I can do this. 

Movement:

  1. Spread fingers out in front of you, palms facing away from body.
  2. Bring thumb into palm and fold remaining fingers around the thumb for a yogi fist.
  3. Tuck elbows near ribs, folded fingers facing upward.
  4. Punch one fist out in front of you at a time, alternating between left and right.
  5. Breathing sharply out the mouth with each punch.
  6. After 1 minute, punch both fists out in front you simultaneously.
  7. Continue for another minute with both fists.
  8. Stop, bring hands to side of body, breath deeply through nose and fill entire belly.
  9. Exhale slowly through the mouth.
  10. Notice any your energy. Repeat as necessary.

 

Want to grow your resilience and learn to de escalate strong emotions like  anger? Just like building physical body strength when training to climb a mountain, you must hike and build strength. Training the brain to respond differently when activated, requires dedication and guidance too! 

Not sure how to start your own recovery? Let’s connect! Sign up for my newsletter and receive your Free 40 Day Yoga Journey video sequence, instruction packet, tracker and journal here! 

Ready for in-depth healing guidance? I offer 1:1 Coaching, in 4 or 12 session coaching packages. Using movement, meditation and breathwork to heal the nervous system and reclaim peace. Apply today!!

 

Sending so much light and love, Heidi

 

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