A few months back I had the roommate from hell. She had an intense indigo personality and was both very enjoyable company when in a good vibration and very painful to be around when in a bad one. After I while I started experiencing her negative side more and more and we had to ask her to leave.
I think a large part of what made our relationship go into a downward spiral was her philosophy on negative emotions. She firmly believed that if she had a negative emotion, she had an entitlement to express it, even if it hurt someone. She would say “I hate you” as easily as she would say something kind, and for relatively trivial things, so long as she happened to feel it in the moment.
In her mind, if she felt it, she almost had to express it, otherwise she’d be oppressing herself. Or I’d be oppressing her, if I told her not to.
Indigos are often great measures of how well a system is working. When they believe in something they tend to really take it all the way, and the shortcomings of a system can become obvious.
In this case, I think she was using a pretty standard philosophy on how to deal with negative emotions. She simply took it so far that its problems became obvious, at least to me.
What many people tell you is that you should express your emotions. If you hold them inside of you, they will build up, and eventually come out in uncontrolled ways.
I don’t think that is necessarily the best thing. For instance, it’s not rare for a person to want to punch someone. I think most will agree that actually “expressing” that and punching someone is not a positive thing to do. They would then punch you back, and the situation would escalate. From what I’ve seen, violence pretty much always leads to more violence.
Of course, punching someone and saying something hurtful isn’t the same thing, right? Well, I’d actually argue that the two things have more in common than most would think. A hurtful word triggers the same sort of response in people as a physical attack, if on a lesser scale. They usually say a hurtful word back, and, of course, it usually doesn’t stop there. So “expressing” anger like this is really not helpful.
But what if there is a better way of expressing anger, one which isn’t actually some sort of attack on a person? Well, I think there may be. But I don’t think it’d be the sort of therapeutic expression of anger which most people are thinking of.
You see, anger is always directional. You’re always angry at something. And on an energetic level, if you’re angry at a person, you are sending those negative vibes their way. So it’s pretty much impossible to express the energy of anger to someone without that invading someone’s aura somehow.
It won’t kill them, but it will require some energetic defenses, smart responses, or energetic cleansing afterwards. These are things that most people can do to some extent, even if they are not aware of energy as a concept, though few people are good enough to remain completely unaffected.
So if the recipient of your energy is unable to defend themselves properly, they will carry your anger in them forever after, getting angry at others and transferring that energy to more people in a never-ending cycle of negativity and pain.
Basically it’s the same as the never-ending cycle of physical violence which we’ve all heard about, except the violence is… non-physical. I strongly believe there is no difference apart from degree.
So with this in mind, I think it’s possible to express anger by saying, in a neutral energy/tone of voice: “I am angry”. If I had to do this, I’d usually say something like, “Hey, I’m sorry cause I know that this is my own stuff to deal with, but I’m feeling angry right now in response to something you said/did.” I’d make that preface so that people would know I’m not trying to direct my anger at them, even if the anger in question did have them as the target.
But – I’m sure some of you are saying – if I can’t express anger at someone, how do I prevent it from building up and exploding?
Well. Let me begin by saying that this article would be absolutely incomplete if I didn’t supply an alternative method of dealing with anger. I don’t think holding anger inside and letting it build up is healthy – at all. And if this is the only option, I guess letting it out on people in small, controlled doses is probably better than letting it grow and grow.
But that’s not much of a choice, is it? Lashing out often in small doses vs. lashing out rarely in big doses? And if this weird algebra of rage is correct, then wouldn’t it be the same overall amount of lashing out in total anyway?
I think the philosophy of expressing your negative emotions can be good because it prevents them going subconscious. You bring them to the surface, and at least to some extent you expose them to the light of consciousness, which tends to expose their dysfunctionality and encourages them to heal.
Eckhart Tolle recommends observing your emotions as they come up, as well as your words and actions. Maintain some awareness of yourself as the observer of all that is going on.
If you do this, anger cannot completely control you. You’ll be able to realise more easily how damaging it is to act on anger, and it’ll also make it easier to choose not to act on anger if you so desire.
That said, expressing your negative emotions at someone is usually just going to perpetuate negativity and create a feedback loop. I don’t think it’s a good idea.
If you really can’t stop yourself, though, then go ahead and express your anger at someone. As you do it, remain watchful. Observe everything that unfolds. Really, really feel it, experience it, take it all in. And if you don’t like what happens, perhaps you’ll be more motivated to avoid this next time.
If at all possible, though, don’t express the anger you have towards someone to them themselves. If you have to express it to someone, it’s probably better to express it to a sympathetic friend. If you do this, try to find someone who is likely to help you process your anger by holding an energy of forgiveness — and not just feed the flames by contributing extra anger on your behalf.
Otherwise you can write your anger into a journal. Best practice afterwards would be to burn the pages, a symbol for the transmutation and cleansing of that energy from the ether.
If doing any of these methods, observe the anger as it comes out. If you have a written product afterwards, observe that, too, trying to come from a detached standpoint. You might notice that, energetically speaking, you have basically just vomited over the page. It isn’t pretty, and it doesn’t hold any special value apart from then being burnt.
So this is how I think the philosophy of expressing your anger can have some validity. I think particularly the technique of journalling and then burning the pages has a lot to be said for it. I don’t think these things are the whole story, however.
Anger has a meaning. People who are chronically angry are often those who don’t stick up for themselves, or those who experience repeated violations of their boundaries. I think most of us have at least some work to be done regarding the integrity of our boundaries.
However, sticking up for yourself, or protecting your boundaries, doesn’t mean being aggressive. It can mean being assertive, or – as that word often seems to sound like a milder form of aggressive – you can just communicate better.
You can often feel like you’re being walked all over, and feel angry because of it, because you’re in a pattern of not clearly and confidently communicating your needs. And perhaps when you do you communicate them, you do so from a place of anger, and that triggers people to act negatively towards you in return.
In this case, you need to separate anger from the communication. Don’t withhold your communication because you’re scared you can only say what you have to say in an angry way. And don’t be angry at someone just because you need to communicate with them.
Learn to separate. Obviously, saying certain things will tend to trigger you into anger. In this case, you should attempt to be in a meditative state while communicating. Feel your centre, focus on your breathing. Be able to observe the moment when anger comes up, and when it does, return your focus to your breathing, your centre, until you are able to act and speak separately from it.
This separation is my core technique for dealing with anger when it arises in an interaction with somebody.
With this, you can learn to start communicating things which you previously didn’t because of the anger you attached to the communication. Challenge yourself to communicate those things more and more. This will give you the opportunity to practise separation and will hopefully heal any associated residual anger.
Additionally, sometimes other people will get angry or defensive when you say certain things which are normally said in an angry or judging way (criticism, for example). I believe that if you truly remove your own anger from the equation, the anger of other people will tend to slowly disappear, having nothing to reinforce itself with. But in the beginning, they may be expecting you to say something with anger or judgement, and they will respond as if you had been angry or judging.
In this case, first, practise self honesty – was your communication really free of negativity?
And then, supposing it was, just keep communicating in a negativity-free way, making sure not to get triggered into anger by their response. You can reassure them that you really didn’t mean to be hostile towards them, but that you really felt that it was necessary to communicate this thing. If they are reasonable, they will usually get it.
Sticking up for yourself can also simply mean refusing to enter into a particular energetic “game”.
When we’re in a situation which makes us feel angry and disempowered, I think a lot of the time, if we investigate, we can identify ways in which we are contributing to making it happen.
Location is one major factor. For example, a huge amount of people feel rage at how they are treated in their jobs. But, they keep showing up to their job every day. I think that if they became aware of their anger and processed it rather than pushing it under the surface, they’d gain the clarity to simply quit.
This happened to me when I was in the system, back in school. Rage was building and building inside me, but I felt powerless to leave the system. Finally my rage was bursting out everywhere. At this point, when it became impossible for me to deny my own feelings anymore, I was able to remove myself from the source of them by quitting school. From there, I could begin healing.
This principle can also extend to the people you hang out with. If you don’t like someone, go somewhere else. Or if they are in your space, throw them out. If they are your “friend”, consider whether your relationship is really worth holding onto. The same goes for relatives; hold nothing sacred. If someone’s attitude gives you a cause for chronic anger, and you’re not absolutely bound to them for survival, then delete them from your life.
There are other ways in which we can draw anger-inciting situations to ourselves. One way is actually to express anger towards a recipient. If you find something or someone unacceptable, you can rage at them. If they are negative themselves, they may choose to engage with your anger by singling you out for nasty treatment. Then you’ll really have something to be angry about, and from then on you’ll feel incredibly justified in your feelings.
I see this with some activists. A lot of them are so angry at police and the system that they seem to repeatedly expose themselves to the mistreatment of police and the system. In particular, a lot of squatters I met in Barcelona exemplified this. They just couldn’t let go of the injustice of capitalism. So they squatted buildings, got thrown out, and then raged at the police and the system for throwing them out. And then they squatted more buildings, feeling ever more hurt and victimised as this cycle continued.
I don’t like the injustice of capitalism either, but, having tried chronic anger on for size, I’ve since decided that I will accept living to some extent within the money system in order to have the stability I need. From there, I’m empowered to work on the flourishing of a peaceful revolution.
Finally, I want to explain that anger can come simply from what you focus on. If you focus on injustice, as I mentioned above, you can have the fuel to keep you angry for basically as long as you want. But if you make a conscious effort to forgive injustice, you can slowly transmute the harsh energy of anger into gentleness and kindness.
And from there, you can still work to create change, if you desire. But it will be a different kind of work, and a different kind of change.
So anger can mean many things:
It can mean you need to communicate better, and to separate your anger from your communication;
It can mean you need to stop putting yourself into positions where your boundaries are crossed, including having the self respect to leave a job or social environment or to cut off ties with an acquaintance;
It can mean you need to change what you focus on, and possibly to forgive, to simply accept, any forms of injustice which you find yourself still having to live with after having tried to get away from them.
In general I think it’s important to always act separately from your anger. I believe any act or word that is inspired directly by anger will tend to cause the perpetuation and proliferation of anger and negativity in the world. Even if there doesn’t seem to be any direct consequences to a particular expression of anger, I think that energy will be sent out there and contribute to the general energetic pollution of the world. Besides that, I think that it’s likely there will be consequences for you based on the more esoteric laws of the Universe, even if not due to more standard conceptions of causality.
I think that it can be positive for anger to inspire changes in your words or actions indirectly however. If you follow anger to its root it can show you where you are failing in self-respect, communication, or other issues.
Don’t mistake these words for a suggestion that you should repress yourself. I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not suggesting that, but perhaps it bears mentioning.
A lot of people are brought up to suppress their anger (or rather, to have no self respect and then to suppress the results of that). It can be tempting for these people to express no anger and act as if they have reached great spiritual heights because they never seem to show signs of it.
Actually, if you look closer these people do express their anger. They make snide remarks, backhanded compliments, and petty actions designed to take out their frustrations on others. And sometimes they will actually explode, or perhaps find some “legitimate” reason for expressing anger, all the while maintaining their facade of spiritual superiority.
Don’t be that person. Be honest with yourself about how well you have understood the messages of your anger and transmuted it. And also with how well you are separating from your current episodes of anger and avoiding sending that energy towards anyone.
Most of all be aware that anger is about you, not about other people. Your anger always has an object, but you are the origin of the anger, not the object. Some things may be more likely to incite anger than others, but in all situations there is the possibility of acting and speaking without anger, and even of not feeling anger at all.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you act or speak with anger or feel anger. Very few people are entirely clear of anger. I’m certainly not.
The first step is to learn to separate yourself from your anger. Personally, I believe I have got to the point where I can do that in more or less any situation. So that, I think, is definitely quite an achievable goal; if I’ve done it, you can do it. (I still might not separate in some situations when I forget to, which can happen if the anger is weak enough to slip under the radar, e.g. what you’d call irritation or frustration. Otherwise I invariably do separate).
Once we’ve got to this point, hopefully, the anger will start to clear itself from our energy bodies on its own just as a result of our skill at this, and we can speed the cleansing along by finding the meanings/messages of our anger, as well as transmuting in other ways.
Eventually, we’d reach the state where our energy bodies are totally free of anger. I’m not there yet, and I don’t know personally anyone who is, though I believe masters like Eckhart Tolle may be.
This provides me with a great opportunity to segue into the last topic I wanted to mention in this article: Eckhart Tolle.
Eckhart Tolle is without a doubt one of the biggest influences I’ve had in my life; perhaps the biggest. His books about spirituality have such clarity and power. I found them to be absolutely transformative, as have millions of people. They provide an excellent blueprint on how to raise your vibration, how to achieve meditative states, and how to deal with negative emotions, which is why I wanted to mention them here.
In the process of separation I mentioned above, I suggested attempting to find a meditative state when anger threatens to come up and control your words and actions. Obviously, that’s not always easy. What allowed me to get to the point where I could do that was the work I did on myself following the blueprint in Eckhart Tolle’s books. This whole article would look very different, would probably not exist, without that inspiration.
So, if you really want to empower yourself with what I’ve been saying here, as well as in all areas of your life, I strongly recommend checking out his books.
If you use Amazon for buying books, here are a couple of links you can buy from. I earn a small (4%) commission if you buy – I just thought I’d mention that, but it isn’t the reason for me recommending them.
So “The Power of Now” is Tolle’s definitive work. I would recommend anyone who is interested in Tolle to read this first. It’s concise, charged with spiritual energy, and brilliant.
If you are certain you want to commit seriously to evolving yourself through Tolle’s work, I would also recommend you check out his other two books, “A New Earth” (which focuses more on how to deal with negative energy in relationships) and “Stillness Speaks“.
So that’s it for the article. I think I’ve explained my whole working philosophy about how to deal with anger in a pretty complete way. Try it out, test it, and tell me how it works for you. Feel free to leave any questions or thoughts in the comments.
By the way, as I usually do at the end of every article, I just want to take a moment to suggest that if you’re getting value out of this blog, you can support it with a donation. A few donations here and there add up, and together they can go a long way to making my work sustainable.