When we ignore anger, or push it away by telling ourselves we shouldn’t feel it, we are just denying those parts of us that are wanting to be expressed.
This is something I wrote recently for Elephant Journal after getting frustrated by yet another “don’t be angry, be happy” kind of post from a big spiritual site that I follow on Instagram. What happens when we don’t express anger at the time, in a safe way, is that we allow it to build into something even bigger.
We live in a culture of not showing these so-called “negative” emotions, of needing to be “in control”, and where it is somehow seen as shameful and a failure to say “I’m not coping”. Or, “I need help”.
We feel anger. It’s just one of our emotions, like happiness, joy, and contentment. Sadness, fear, frustration—these are all valid emotions. I am all for keeping a positive outlook, and naturally lean toward seeing the silver lining in any situation. But at times, I also feel depressed, sad, angry, lost, hopeless, and a whole other range of emotions.
I believe there is a reason that we are seeing so much depression and disconnection in the people around us, and it’s that we are conditioned to “not feel” our so-called negative emotions. We use distractions, being “busy”, and numbing activities to keep it under control.
What if we allow ourselves to fully feel whatever is happening without judging ourselves? This doesn’t mean we should wallow for days in misery, but we can be open and conscious about it, acknowledge what we feel, and let it naturally run its course. This is surrender.
We’ve never been equipped with the tools or taught that we can approach our feelings this way. What is the first thing we tell a crying child? Stop crying, it’s alright. But at that moment, for them, it’s not alright. Instead of helping them to feel better, we’ve just taught them that they should hide their feelings, push them down deep inside, and never let them out.
It makes us uncomfortable when people are unhappy—we don’t know how to deal with it, we don’t like seeing it, and we surely don’t like feeling it ourselves. So we try to avoid it, or make it go away. Of course, we mean well—we don’t want our loved ones to feel bad, we want them healed, happy, and fun to be around.
I believe it’s time we all got more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Can we try this instead?