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Updated: Jul 12, 2021


In my last reflection I said that, in my perception, the repression of instincts and emotions is at the heart of the current imbalances in the world, and that perhaps anger is the most strongly repressed emotion.

I want to dedicate this text to talk deeper about it, and to indicate the way that I see for dealing with this emotion.

I see this problem in basically everyone I attend in my office, as well as in my community. Most people know that they repress or flee from anger, and the justification that I hear most is that when they let go, the emotion comes totally chaotic and uncontrolled, causing damage to themselves and others around them. “Every time I decide to put the anger out, it causes disasters, I end up talking nonsense, and then I regret it” - this is the complaint. What I always say is: "Sure ... how long did you keep it locked up, suffocated, repressed? How many things did you swallow before it really exploded?”

This is the basic mechanism of practically everyone: they get upset about something, they don’t speak, they try to get over or keep it to themselves, things accumulate, until the moment that they can't take it anymore and then it explodes. It is like a river where you put a barrier. The water accumulates until the barrier cannot take it anymore, then comes a time when it breaks and the water gushes out with all strength, taking everything that is around it.

On the one hand, they repress, repress, repress. Until the time they explode, lose control, are swallowed by emotion, and say things without thinking that later they regret.

Did you identify with that? Well, that happens to basically everyone. The point is that we were taught from a young age that it is not cool to conflict, to say things in an open way, to show anger and displeasure. It is more beautiful to be calm, kind, always tolerant, patient, friendly, pleasant. Always have a smile on the face. Get over. Forgive easily and don't hold grudges. Treat everyone with politeness and kindness, even when the other hurts you. Do not fight back. If someone hits you, give the other side of the face. Show that you are elevated, always returning any evil with more kindness, tolerance and understanding. Keep smiling, always calm, always serene.

How many times on a social occasion did someone say something that bothered you, and instead of you openly conflict, you gave a fake smile and tried to take the provocation "in a good way"?

There is no room for anger. There is no room for open conflict. And so we learn to suppress, swallow, mask it with a smile. And then the emotion gets more and more stuck ... I am not surprised that when it arises, it arises like a monster. Try to lock an animal in a dark cellar, without ever looking, caring, nourishing, letting it breathe, and see what will happen.

Since we were not taught to express anger, since we have always swallowed that emotion, since now every time it goes out, it does damage, WHAT DO WE DO NOW? HOW TO EXPRESS ANGER IN A BALANCED WAY?

Because yes, it is necessary to find a HUMANIZED expression for this emotion. We cannot let it go uncontrolled, because it does not generate awareness, it does not generate growth, it does not generate connection.

The function of anger as an emotion is to put limits. Putting an end to those things that hurt us and preserving our space of individuality. Who doesn’t know how to deal with anger, doesn’t know how to impose himself, doesn’t know how to achieve respect, doesn’t know how to position himself. He ends up being trampled on by others, entering in situations he doesn't want, giving up his own will to satisfy the other, mixing oneself with the other. Anger guarantees STRENGTH, INDIVIDUALITY and ASSERTIVENESS.

Well channeled, it leads to the fulfillment of our desires, and to the necessary separation between the self and the other. When placed well, this limit does not necessarily break the connection. If it is done in a human way, it defends the space it has to defend, keeping the relationship that needs to remain. It’s not a definitive ‘no’ to the person, it’s a ‘no’ to the abusive situation. Ultimately, this helps to preserve the health of the relationship, because the spaces are kept and the connection preserved.

The problem is that, when it comes out imbalanced, we end up hurting what cannot be hurt, offending and humiliating the other by failing to simply put the necessary limit.

So YES - it needs to be humanized and balanced.

We return to the question: WHAT IS IT? HOW DO WE THIS? What I am calling “humanized” anger is an expression of anger that continues to recognize that there is another human being in front of us, with his own pain, with his own trajectory. This means that if we have the least amount of empathy, we will be careful not to humiliate this other, no matter how angry and dissatisfied we are. Except in cases, when it becomes really necessary and this is done in an extremely conscious way. But in most cases, I see no need to humiliate. I see a need to limit.

We humiliate when we disrespect the other's deep self, when we try to depreciate the other's essence or existence as a being. In practice, phrases like "You suck, you’re trash, you're worthless" are offending this essential core. Touching points that we know are sensitive to the other, which are linked to traumatic experiences for the other (especially when these points were revealed in intimate and confidential conversations), cause the same destruction to this essential being.

It is healthier to talk about the actions that the other had and bothered you, instead of the being itself. Talking about the act, not about the being. The act is circumstantial, and can be corrected. The being does not. Saying that the other's action was horrible is better than saying that the other is horrible. Expressing what displeased you, elucidating the reason for the displeasure, maintaining respect for the being, is much more human than disparaging and trying to annihilate that individuality.

For that, it is necessary to understand and reflect on what hurt you. Every time I get angry at someone I stop and wonder what really hurt me. It was usually some point where I felt invaded or disrespected - anger is an emotion of repulsion and separation, and if there is a need for repulsion and separation, it is because there was an invasion of limits. This emotion shows me the need to preserve and defend my personal space and dignity. Or it was some point where I felt frustrated - I had some desire that was not fulfilled. Anyway, I always try to understand where and how I felt invaded and disrespected, or what was the desire that was not satisfied. I usually look at the old wounds brought up, the repetitive patterns, the traumas.

And then I try to speak as clearly as possible about what I feel, remembering that I'm talking to another human being. Talking to the other as if you are talking to yourself - and partly this is exactly what is happening - is the best way to keep humanity. Doing the exercise of imagining how you would receive a speech like that, what impact it would bring you, makes it naturally more regulated. Clarity takes away the “blind” quality of anger. It takes the conflict to the degree of growth and maturity of the relationship, which is the best that anger can offer.

Remembering that this DOES NOT MEAN TO REPRESS THE EXPRESSION OF THE EMOTIONAL LOAD. What I mean by this? Each emotion has a charge, a specific energy, a vibration. Talking about what is bothering you in a mild way, smoothly, very sweet, in my opinion does not express what you have to express - especially when that is not what you are feeling. The practice of waiting for the anger calms down and have the conversation a week later sometimes only contributes to the repression of the emotional load. This burden MUST be expressed, which means letting it appear that you are angry, speaking with a firm and energetic tone of voice that comes naturally when anger is present, letting your body and face show that it displeased you. This is important for the other to realize how much it hurt you, and to give the necessary limit. There is no way to put a firm boundary while being too sweet. The other will not understand you and will not take you seriously. So for me it is important to let the voice and the body express the load, while you take care that the words do not come out of control and disrespectful. Imagine a mother talking to her son: "Don't do this!" If she speaks in a very sweet way, the child will probably not take it seriously and will continue to do so. It is important for her to say this in a firm tone, so that the child feels the limit. “Don't do this” does not hurt or hurt anything essential to the child, and the limit keeps being placed.

Once that is understood, the next challenge is to educate ourselves to achieve this balanced expression. Most people understand, but when it comes to practice it ends up going in the old way. When anger comes, the person either represses or loses consciousness and explodes.

This shows that education is a TRAINING, like any other in life. Almost a muscular workout - in this case, a training of consciousness. The first few times you try, you will probably continue on the two-pole seesaw. One hour you repress it, another time it goes out of control. It is therefore important to acquire the habit of TALKING WHENEVER YOU DIDN'T LIKE SOMETHING. Remember that swallowing things means repressing. And if you keep repressing, one hour you will blow. So it starts with the exercise of NOT REPRESSING, NOT ACCUMULATING. Whenever something bothers you, speak up. Then speak EXERCISING CONTAINMENT, which is different from repression. Repression is to swallow the emotion, run away, throw it under the carpet without even looking straight. To contain is to recognize emotion, accept, embrace, and strive to express in the most balanced way possible, observing the difference between expression and humiliation that I explained above, observing the presence of humanity in the exposition.

Know that you are not perfect, and especially in the first expressions you will slide, end up saying something without so much balance. This is absolutely normal. As I said, it's all about training, and nobody gets it right the first time. I think it is preferable, however, start to exercise even with imperfection than to keep silent and repress. You can even warn the other that you are starting this practice, so it may be a little imbalanced, but at least you are trying to improve - this also guarantees humanity.

In any case, this way you will be blocking the two inappropriate ways of dealing with anger - repression and explosion- and slowly the emotion will find its right place, like the river that finds its best way to flow.

It’s all a matter of internal alchemy: the effort to put something in place, the conscious tension between the two poles, will provoke a profound transformation in consciousness/unconsciousness dinamic that can lead us to integrate this emotion. This is the process that Jungian Psychology teaches, and my personal experience shows me daily that this is the only viable path - and yes, it works.

The results of this integration is an immense gain in strength, power, clarity, positioning capacity and personal opinion. In addition to being more respected by other people, because animals without claws and teeth are eaten by stronger ones.

I see an immense need for the world as a whole to make this integration. People able to put themselves clearly, to conflict, to position themselves, would make a world much more balanced. This talk of eliminating anger creates a huge collective shadow.

Finally, I want to analyze the reason for the repression of anger a little more deeply. We repress it because we fear the loss of the relationship. The conflict can indeed lead to separation. Who has never fought with a colleague and ended up losing that friendship? Who never exploded in someone, then saw that it hurt and the relationship was damaged, at least for a while? Who never wanted to be distant of an angry person, fearing being hurt by them? We learn to swallow the conflict because it is easier to live a peaceful relationship. We learn to seek harmony at any cost because it seems less threatening, we are less at risk of hurting, losing, scratching that connection. If I always do everything the other wants, or always be pleasant and smiling, I have a better chance of the other wanting to be close to me. I have a better chance of being loved, mainly because that's what everyone wants and seeks - happy, calm people, easy to live with, who don't bring many problems and conflicts. Everyone feels more secure, at ease, happy with this type of personality. So I mold myself exactly into what everyone expects, within what they taught me, within what will not threaten anyone. Deep down, I DESPERATELY WANT TO BE LOVED. This is what makes us perpetuate what we have been taught. We want to be accepted, we want to be within the standards, we want not to be rejected by the threatening expression of our nature.

The problem is that the repression of the conflict and the forced attempt to maintain peace and harmony to any custom ends up not working, because the unexpressed anger ends up corroding the relationship, leaving millions of hurt and unresolved resentment, that arrive at the point of eventually make the interaction impossible. It becomes so false that the real love is lost. Or people start to pinpoint themselves indirectly, in a passive-aggressive manner, in a comment here and there, in a charge here and there. It is impossible to eliminate emotion, it is necessary to understand this. It WILL come out somehow - consciously or unconsciously. It’s better being with conscience, no ??

Furthermore, by doing this you are moving away from yourself. By swallowing your emotions, you are moving away from what is truly you. Trying to cut off a part of your nature and fit into the smiling ideal of society, you are DENYING A PART OF YOURSELF. And then the love you seek when trying to annul yourself becomes more and more distant. Because IF YOU DON'T LOVE YOURSELF (WITH ALL THE PARTS OF YOUR NATURE), HOW WILL THE OTHER ONE LOVE YOU? If you are trying in all ways to become what you are not, how do you expect to receive and feel true love from each other? You are so far from the essence, that even if you find someone who likes you, the question is: does this person like you, or the mask you have built for you?

The people who most try to move and fit in with what the other expects, never saying no, satisfying all the other's will, are usually the most rejected. The other feels that there is something strange there, and deep down nobody likes someone who keeps humiliating and diminishing themselves, almost begging for love. We instinctively reject this person, who is basically rejecting oneself in the first place.

That's why I choose to be who I really am. Speak what I think, express what I feel, generating conflict or not. If the other likes me, he'll like the way I am - and then I really know it's love. Of course, I worry about keeping humanity, but I'm also not perfect, and sometimes I can go over the top, be a little rude, or express very childish sides that I have.

But I still choose to speak. Whenever it bothers me. I continue to choose to be who I am, I continue to choose to show what I feel. It is my way of keeping my truth, and always being whole in my relationships.

I accept and embrace the beast in me. I feel safe and strong with her beside me. And for everyone who tries to say to me to eliminate anger, don't be so angry, calm down, my answer is always the same: I love being angry. And I think anger is one of the most beautiful emotions that exists.

*Helena Angelini

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