I used to consider myself someone who just didn’t get angry. Instead of getting mad, I’d get sad. Any time something occurred in my life that brought up anything remotely close to anger I would instantly turn it into sadness. This happened deep under the surface of my consciousness; I never knew I was doing it, and it happened before any hint of anger had a chance to show its face.
Does this mean I didn’t ever have a reason to get angry? Did it mean I was really good at “handling” my anger? Was I healthier for controlling my emotions?
Nope. Even though I did my best to convince myself it wasn’t there, that anger had to go somewhere, and if I hadn’t had been so good at crying it out, it would have stagnated within me. Now, I am not saying it’s a healthy habit to automatically change your anger into sadness. I had to unlearn that one, and it took work. I had to learn to honor my anger just as much as my joy.
Every emotion is valid.
Spring is symbolized by the energy of the wood element. Wood correlates to the liver, and to the positive aspects of growth, productivity, and hope; but what about its negative aspects? Wood energy can also manifest as aggression, resentment, and anger, and it is valuable to acknowledge both sides of this energy—the dark and the light—with equal respect. This is much like what the planet is doing right now, during this time of year when the length of day becomes equal to that of night, light is balanced with dark, and yin is equivalent to yang.
This is the Vernal Equinox, which went into its peak energy at 10:30PM MST on Saturday (March 19); it is the midpoint of spring, according to the Chinese seasonal calendar. In harmony with this potent cosmological event, what are some ways we can honor our dark sides as much as we do our light? Why is it that emotions of joy, optimism, and kindness are viewed as emotions that do us “good,” while feeling depression, hostility, irritation, or anger make us feel like we’re being “bad?” How can we begin to balance ourselves by allowing both sides of our emotions to have a place?
Controlling your emotions in a way that holds them in, packs them down, and makes them silent is a definite path toward ill health, unbalance, and even disease. So how do you deal with your emotions? What is the purpose of those pesky feelings, anyway?
It’s all about communication and balance. Your emotions are messages, there to help you navigate your way through life. They show you what you really need, and help you decipher what you truly want in this life. But, here’s the kicker: You will never be able to know what your emotions are trying to tell you unless you give them the right to exist within you first. By giving your emotions—the “good” and the “bad” alike—the space to be, you simultaneously give them the space to move on.
If you can get into the practice of letting yourself feel what comes up, without judging, stifling, or overindulging in your emotions, you then allow them the right to be there, which opens you up to understanding yourself more deeply.
Let them be in order to let them go, and then you’ll begin to notice what it is they’re trying to get you to see. Sadness might want you to have more compassion for yourself. Worry’s message for you may be about letting go. Anger may be telling you it’s time to speak your truth.
Anger is only detrimental when we deny its power to heal us.
How do you react when anger comes up? Do you stifle it away? Do you rage violently and then feel guilty afterward? Do you turn it into sadness?
Or do you let it be there? Do you listen to it? Do you let yourself feel angry without overindulging in the emotion and letting it carry you away? Do you learn from your anger, or do you resist it?
Most people either rush to extinguish its flames or douse it with gasoline, and either way we miss the point. Anger is a message. What is your anger telling you?
Ask yourself these questions and intend to be aware of your responses to anger (or any other emotion we typically label as negative). Then make a commitment to experiencing what it's like to be a conscious witness the next time a strong emotion arises for you.
Follow the way of the planet; let the earth help you relax into your place of balance. For only when you are balanced on the springboard can you leap forth with conviction into the waters of possibility waiting to catch you. As we work through this wood season, allow your body to speak to you through your emotions, and let those emotions—the light and the dark— help you recognize what you need in order to reach your full potential.