Dr. Mario Martinez (author of The Mind-Body Code) says there is a role in your life for healthy anger, for appropriate anger, for righteous anger. Righteous anger is a fast, hot fire that burns up the poison of shaming, and protects your field of honor. This is the anger that rises up like a dragon and says, “Don’t you DARE try to shame me!” This anger is correct and just and fair. You are entitled to it. You must claim it. ~ From Chapter 21 in Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters: A Guide For Separation, Liberation & Inspiration
I was chatting with a client recently who, for now, is choosing not to be in contact with her mother. She added that sometimes when she passes her mother’s house, she sends her mother some love and even says out loud, “Love you Mom!”
I replied that it’s very powerful when we’re able to feel love for our mothers while also maintaining impeccable boundaries.
Then she said, “Sometimes I flip her the bird.”
I laughed and said that her safe expression of anger is also powerful.
(The concepts I discuss below are based on the work of Rachael Maddox)
Your anger is valid.
Your anger is necessary.
Your anger is healthy.
Your anger is what protects your joy, your energy, your well-being, your elemental aliveness, your life.
It’s what signals you to create a boundary.
Your anger is fierce, it is “no,” it is clarity, it is will, it is autonomy, it is defiance.
Your anger was most likely shamed out of you. By your mother. As it was shamed out of her by her mother. And so on.
You most likely learned that your anger wasn’t enough. You learned that anger was not going to protect you. You learned that anger wasn’t going to get what you want. You learned that anger = violence.
Your anger may have even been laughed at (mine was).
So you didn’t learn how to “do” anger.
Let’s look at the typical ways we react when we perceive threat:
:: Fix-it: we try and make everything better (people-pleasing and peace-making)
:: Fight/flight: we move aggressively toward the threat or we try to run away from it (anger)
:: Freeze: we numb, dissociate, or leave our bodies (“deer in the headlights”)
Women tend to go from fix-it mode to freeze because we learn that fight/flight (anger) doesn’t work for us.
Let’s also look at anger from two perspectives:
:: Immature anger: manipulation, resentment, shame, blame, piling on, oppression, power over, force
:: Mature anger: protective, willful, fierce, “no that is not okay!” It goes beyond yelling. In action, it creates boundaries. It provides access to the clarifying fire of commitment to yourself.
Some questions to journal on:
- What are the things you think you’re not allowed to be angry about or say no to?
- You never got to say “no” to _________________.
- What’s difficult for you about anger?
- What’s your relationship to anger…to your “no”?
- Does your “no” get shut down by yourself or others?
Some questions that will help you create healthy boundaries from anger:
- What are you no longer available for?
- What’s no longer acceptable to you?
- What are you willing to be angry about?
- What are you no longer available to do to yourself or subject yourself to?
- Who are you no longer available for?
Something to practice:
- Let out your excess anger in safe ways: throw rocks, punch a pillow, stomp and state, growl, sneer, dance to “angry” music, move.
- Make the expression of your anger sustainable. Give it a beginning and an ending. Give yourself permission to feel and have all your anger within a certain time frame or only in a certain room or only with a certain safe person who will witness and hold space for your anger but not let you stay in it.
- Ask yourself what you need to keep you safe, stable, and grounded.
I also adore this suggestion from Randi Buckley:
“An offered suggestion for your loved one(s): Ask them how they will still know you love them when you are angry, in conflict, or need to take a breather. File that info away for safe keeping hold it sacred. Use and offer it when angry, in conflict, or when you need to take a breather. This too, is an act of love.”
Much, much love,
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