Some of the most fertile soil on the planet is the soil that has lived the transformation of a forrest fire. Lately, there has been a fire in my belly, a determined force within me, and a strong urge to create movement, change, and real transformation. The kind of anger that I consider to be my friend as long as I find the balance between feeling it and containing it. Like any fire, it will burn out, but also needs to be contained with elements of water and earth. I try not to add too much additional fire, air, or give it too much space to expand. I also don’t want to suppress it or suffocate it. This anger has an upside even if I can’t yet see what it is, what it will serve exactly, or how it will manifest.
I wrote another post on this topic 3 years ago, titled “Don’t tell me to calm down!”. In reading over what I wrote, my perspective is the same now as it was then. In fact, I would re-iterate everything I wrote about the healthy aspects of anger, its important messages, and knowing how to distinguish between what is happening and what we perceive is happening in order to respond appropriately when anger strikes. Anger can in fact cloud our perception. I would also say that a clouded perception can result in misinformed and unnecessary feelings of anger. When we don’t take the time to observe ourselves and what an emotion is signalling, we do risk causing undo harm – especially if we choose to act on anything while in an emotional state and before having clarity. The harmful consequences are sometimes immediate and sometimes experienced later on. Either way, anger isn’t bad, it’s the actions that we take when we are angry that that lead us to believe that anger itself is a bad thing. We just need to learn how to pay attention to it, listen, give it space to shift, and know when it is helpful and when it’s harmful to ourselves and others.
This specific fire in my belly is a unique kind. It’s familiar and unfamiliar to me at the same time. I have always known sadness better than I know anger. In fact, I used to get so uncomfortable and feel guilt when anger arose that it would melt into tears, self-punishment, and shame. This time, it’s not melting. It wasn’t triggered by anything in particular (I don’t think) and I am not afraid of it. It’s been with me for three days. I am watching myself get more easily frustrated, flustered, impatient, and yet, not breaking into tears – I am able to stay with it and limit my reactivity to the burning sensations of heat and power. I try to express it without harming anyone and give warning to people when I do feel myself bordering on being misunderstood as an impatient or angry person or when I know I am simply not being myself. I think it may be an arising of a part of myself that I have either suppressed or ignored for a long time. I don’t think it’s a coincidence either that I am experiencing this after having had a cranial-sacral therapy treatment where themes of anger and distrust come up in the form of physical resistance to a process of surrender during the treatment. It was a full moon in the last couple days. Thanksgiving came with some family conflict. But still with those things combined, I can’t yet see or understand what its message is. All I can do is trust its usefulness to my growth, give it enough space to burn within mindfully contained limits: “mind the fire”, if you will. Part of what it’s teaching me is to learn how to befriend it and use it as a motivator for the urges I am having to create movement, change, and transformation.
I have a feeling it’s the social justice kind of fire. I am day-dreaming of cutting out the bullshit in social services provided for people; telling the people who crossed lines with me to f-off; and carrying myself more proudly with a greater sense of self-respect and communicating simply through my presence and way of being rather than through a reactivity that creates fear or giving in the discomfort of holding my personal power. The upsides are a sense of being head-strong, determined, beautifully powerful, and commanding respect by giving respect both to myself and others.
Anger ain’t a bad thing. It may just be a fire that fuels change.