“The more anger towards the past you carry in your heart, the less capable you are of loving in the present.”
– Barbara de Angelis
From my perspective, if you never feel anger, you’re either an ascended master or emotionally numb!
Energetically, anger is very close to passion, and it can motivate us to do things we never thought possible. Anger that’s appropriate and proportionate to the situation is healthy, especially when it leads to productive solutions.
That said, anger that’s been festering in your system for decades is like a live volcano: it’s always bubbling below the surface and could blow any time without warning! And more often than not, it doesn’t explode at the original root cause of the anger. It builds up steam from that original cause, builds up more pressure from subsequent events, then blows its top over something inconsequential. And when it does, just like a volcano, it can destroy everything in its path.
In my mind, anger becomes an “anger issue” when it is a constant theme underlying your thinking and your emotions, when it feels like it has a life of its own, when it blasts forth with little or no provocation, when it causes you to do or say things that are destructive to yourself or those around you.
In relationships, whether it’s with co-workers, friends or your significant other, anger issues can act like a corrosive substance. In low doses, it causes irritation. In high doses, it eats away at the relationship until it’s completely destroyed.
When chronic festering anger is expressed, it often comes out in destructive or abusive ways. The person on the other end of these explosions builds up resentment and/or fear. But unexpressed anger can be just as destructive. It creates a kind of cold war tension, encourages silent power plays and restricts communication or cuts it off completely. Not the stuff of great relationships!
Many people who have “anger issues” are actually aware that their anger is a problem. They’ve seen it destroy their relationships, their marriages, their careers. They don’t like the feeling of being constantly angry or the feeling of being out of control. They’ve sought help but for many people typical “anger management” therapies have simply not worked.
Several years ago, I asked for a volunteer to demonstrate a technique in one of my Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) workshops. A woman I’ll call Mona raised her hand. Mona had seen a variety of psychologists for 10 years to deal with her anger issues. Her volatile and almost constant anger had cost her a marriage as well as several jobs, and she was beginning to see that it was effecting her health. But the therapies she tried over the years didn’t get rid of this anger, and she had just about given up on even trying.
The various therapies Mona had tried worked with the conscious mind. She was taught to recognize potential anger triggers, avoid them or cope with the anger that arose using relaxation techniques, and to communicate her needs in the situation in a positive way. This might work for some folks. But for Mona, like many people I’ve worked with, the anger was too strong and too swift for her conscious mind to control it.
To demonstrate another option, I gave Mona a brief explanation of the Mental Emotional Release® (MER®) process. This process works with the unconscious mind to unearth and revisit the “root cause” of her anger. The root cause is like that specific bulb on a string of Christmas lights: Once you unplug it, the whole string of lights goes dark. So once the root cause of Mona’s anger was unplugged, all of the anger she’d built up with subsequent events would unplug as well.
The objective in MER® is not to have Mona never experience anger again. The point is to clear all the past festering anger so that any anger she felt in the future was connected to that future situation only – pure, healthy anger without the old baggage in play.
The technique took about ten minutes. When it was done, Mona looked at me and said, “My anger has disappeared!” That statement was quickly followed by, “Wait, that was too easy! How do I know if it is really gone?”
The discussion I had with Mona after doing the technique took longer than the process itself! I explained that it’s possible to let old negative emotions go, and we do it all the time. MER® simply uses our natural release process in a directed, concentrated form. Three years later, I saw Mona again and she immediately said, “I am not sure why it was so easy, but it worked!!”
The important point I want to make is that an “anger issue” has its roots in the unconscious. You may be able to cope with your festering anger with conscious techniques. But to be free from it completely, you need to work with the unconscious.
As Mark Twain remarked, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” If chronic or explosive anger is causing damage in your life, know that there are solutions for you.