So, sensitive one – did you find your anger?
Maybe you were able to uncover it, remove it from the debris of lies meant to keep you small. Maybe you found snippets, tidbits, little bites of the fiery goodness – just enough to get a taste, not enough to get your fix.
And maybe – maybe – your anger has been there all along. Maybe your anger has been at your side all of the time, like a shadow you can’t get rid of, throwing you into fits of rage, driving you to lash out at those you love, burning down everything you know about yourself and replacing you with a person you don’t know (and don’t like).
All of this is valid.
In the last post, we talked about how, as highly sensitive people (especially women), we often learn how to shut down our anger because it’s not seen as appropriate by others. Instead, we put forth the emotion that would please or meet the needs of the person or situation in front of us.
In fact, this is super common with HSPs – putting our needs aside in order to meet other people’s. We’re really, really good at this (which is why we’re great caregivers, coaches, therapists and guides). But ultimately, this means that we don’t get our needs met.
Let’s try an example.
Imagine a marriage between two people – Bill and Jane. (And for the record – gender is split 50-50 between HSPs, so you can change the genders of anyone in this example). Bill is not highly sensitive. Jane is, but she doesn’t know it.
Whenever there is a compromise to be made, Jane meets Bill further than half way. She meets him three-fourths of the way. She is overextending on her needs by a quarter every time, while Bill is only having to extend himself half of what is fair. Bill gets what he needs easily because Jane is always willing to meet him where it’s most comfortable for him.
Over time, Jane kind of forgets that she even has her own needs, or that they can be respected or met. She doesn’t know why, but she’s resentful and angry at her husband all the time. She has fits of rage, then breaks down into tears. Bill barely recognizes this person he married, and worse still – Jane doesn’t recognize herself!
But this is exactly what can happen when our needs aren’t being met. Our body – using the language or our emotions – rebels on us.
There’s a reason needs are called needs.
Because we need them.
Our bodies are smart. When we’re not getting what we need, our bodies start to send little alarm bells off. We might start out feeling tired, our bodies signaling us to rest. We might feel hungry, our bodies asking for more nourishment. And we might get angry, signaling that something has to change.
So what do we do with anger?
It’s important to remember that anger, like any emotion, is sacred. It has value. It provides information. It is to be respected and listened to and honored as the message carrier it is.
The first step to dealing with your anger?
Talk to your anger. Thank it for being there, for alerting you to something that’s off in your world. Tell your anger that it has value and that your intention is to listen to and do the work necessary to understand it.
Then, move it.
The word emotion comes from a latin word that means “to move.” Emotions move us, and need to move within us – literally, emotions live in the cells of our body. This is why emotions are felt, not thought.
Your anger needs to move so that you don’t implode on yourself, or explode onto someone else. Anger has the power to burn things down, but you need the clarity to determine where you want to direct that kind of destructive power.
So get moving – smash your glass recyclables into a huge recycling bin, punch a pillow, take a kickboxing class, run, sprint or swim. Move your body while focusing on your anger until the energy of it runs out.
Move out the energetic blueprint of the anger through meditation. In a seated position, focus your energy inward on your anger. Sit with it, see it, notice what color it is. Where does it reside in your body? How big is it? What other qualities can describe it? Then start to move this energy – this color – through your body, out your arms and legs and the crown of your head. Run it until it’s run out.
Use your anger to let you stand in the face of fear.
It’s scary to ask that your needs get met if you’ve never done it before (or even if you have).
It’s scary to resist, publicly, against a government that oppresses and targets you.
It’s scary to put up boundaries with people you’ve never given boundaries to before.
Allow your anger to be a tool to help you stand in the face of that fear – because that fear has kept you small. It has kept you silent. It has kept you complacent.
Let your anger be your freedom rather than your foe.