“Anger is an integrity-protecting response to the invasion of your personal boundaries. It is “no” to a wrong, a violation. It draws lines and throws up barricades. Proper anger cuts like a knife through water. It is quick, clear, needs no explanation. There’s nothing cleaner, more effective than appropriate anger. Authentic anger is specific and justified, and it’s direct expression exposes impropriety and defends integrity in a way that benefits everyone.”
I grew up in a home where we expressed our anger VERY openly. As I moved deeper in to the yoga world I began to think that our biting truth, our raised voices and body language were problematic aspects of my childhood. For a few years, especially when I moved to California (from New York/New Jersey) I really tried to hold my tongue and refine my speech as people seemed generally offended by me. Even with this effort I was often met with comments like “you’re very hard” or “you have a very aggressive energy.” I came to realize that, with certain people, I could rarely engage in a conversation where I disagreed with someone in a very clear way that did not offend them or result in a comment about my “harshness.”
So, am I always supposed to just agree with people? And if I don’t agree with you do I have to sugar coat it and make it sound agreeable enough so that no one’s feeling get hurt? Why are your feelings hurt by my personal opinion? Does being a “good yogi” or “conscious being” mean that I’m not allowed to voice my truth with strength and conviction because it offends you? Because honestly, that just sounds like bullshit to me.
“Internalized, bottled up anger is pandemic in our society and its consequences are catastrophic domestic violence, violent crime, all kinds of in appropriate aggression, war at all levels, despairing destructiveness. Anger is the most disallowed, unapproved emotion in our society, and therefore the most repressed. The tell-tale signs of repressed anger are visible all over: locked jaws, clenched fists, stiffened backs, jutting chins, raised voices, smoldering eyes.”
Anger is not what we need to eliminate. We need to get rid of misdirected anger, suppressed anger and the fear of losing our temper. When we learn to let our “no’s” be clear and articulate, we learn how to hear other people’s “no’s” without being offended. This is how we start to really live truthfully and authentically because we realize that other people’s opinions are theirs, and they are allowed to have them. Someone else’s “no” does not threaten our personal beliefs.
“Anger itself can be an appropriate form of compassion. The authentic release of anger often yields a feeling of compassion, because you move from anger at a violation into a sympathetic appreciation of what caused the person to invade your boundaries.” –Gabrielle Roth, Maps to Ecstasy