Can Focusing help me deal with my anger?
Uncontrolled expression of anger can be harmful. So what can we do about it?
Many of us have been brought up to believe that anger is not allowed. During childhood, anger was never given the space to express itself. We were taught to control our anger, and for very good reasons. Uncontrolled anger, when directed at someone, can be harmful. My belief is that it is never OK to be angry at someone, and I remember only too well when I have had an outburst of anger towards a person. I have been filled with regret and shame when I ‘lost control’, and lashed out at someone. I see now how it has harmed me, whether or not it has harmed the other person. It certainly caused a rift between us, which needed to be healed.
So I agree with my conditioning, that uncontrolled expression of anger can be harmful. So what can we do about it? I now value anger when it arises. I see it as a positive life force, that has some truth in it. Sitting on it, or repressing it, devalues that life force, and we become less if we do not allow it.
If you can sit quietly and listen to those angry feelings, what was raging can let you know what it doesn’t want, or what it didn’t want in the past. You may find that there is sadness mixed in with the anger. Some need is not being met. It is helpful to recognise that the anger is not all of you. It is a part that needs attention. The louder it is shouting, the more urgent is its need to be heard. You can let it say whatever it wants to say. You are not saying it to the person directly. You can allow it to shout and swear, and say what it would have wanted you to say to the person. Even though you are not saying it directly, just giving it a hearing can be enormously helpful.
Stay in contact with it as it is experienced in the body. You can start with the raw emotion, and describe how the body is responding to that. If you are Focusing with a partner, you can hear your descriptive words reflected back to you. If you are alone, you will have to say those words to yourself, over and over. Gradually, you will be able to settle down with the feelings and the descriptions of how it feels in the body. You can start to make a relationship with it, rather than being it. The angry part of you needs to be heard, and you can listen to it.
Come closer to it, without becoming it or being overwhelmed. Keep it company like you might with an angry child. Sense for how it wants you to be with it. It might be angry with you, for not standing up for it, for instance. Let it know you hear it. Receive what it is saying. You can empathise with its unmet needs. It may remind you of a time in your childhood when it didn’t get what it needed, and you can hear it now, and be gentle with it.
We sometimes get afraid that anger will be overwhelming, but it will be able to let you know what it needs if you listen to it. Stay with it until it becomes calmer, and undertake to do what you can for it. It may want you to speak to the person who triggered the anger, but now you can do it calmly, and ask for what you need. Undertake to do the actions that it wants you to.
What happens to all the life energy that was caught up in the anger? Let it speak to you. Find your own truth, and your ability to stand in your own ground. Take time to wait at the growing edge of awareness, and allow the bodily felt experience. Be at the unknown edge and wait. More may come, that you had not expected, and welcome what comes next. Often I see people stop when they have got to a certain place of resolution in their Focusing. I want to suggest that there is always more. What might be implied here? We don’t know yet. I think it is worth waiting there and see what happens. It might surprise you.