The Spirituality of Anger
We all know that spiritual people don’t allow themselves to get angry, right? Wrath is one of those seven deadly sins. Resentments (unreleased anger) keep us stuck in unforgiveness. Anger is uncomfortable, unloving, and destructive.
Or maybe it’s not.
Most of us journey through several identifiable stages on our path to (and of) spirituality and enlightenment. We begin our lives pure. As infants we know but a few emotions: contentment and discontentment. We feel either full and safe or we feel some sense of lack (hungry, wet, alone, cold). When we’re full, dry, warm, and in the arms of a loving parent, we feel safe, full, secure, and protected. Our thoughts haven’t matured to a state where we understand these feelings, but we know them nonetheless.
As we begin to learn about our little places in the world, connections start to form in our thoughts. We know that a bottle has good stuff in it that will make us feel full. We have an inkling of the idea of cause and effect. I’m hungry. I cry. Mom brings a bottle. I eat. I feel full again. I’m happy.
Crying then, for infants, is an outward expression we use to tell others we feel less than content. We feel there’s something we need and learn that expressing that feeling through crying will get us that thing we want (food, warmth, security, attention, or comfort).
At some point later we learn that we’re not the only people in the world. Some of us learn this as children. Others don’t learn this until much later in life. We learn that expressing our anger (temper tantrums) isn’t something others in our lives enjoy. We learn that their feelings and place of comfort and contentment matter, too. We learn to suppress our anger so as not to harm others.
This is a wonderful thing; it’s the basis of compassion – placing the needs and comfort of others above the needs of ourselves.
But it’s not always a wonderful thing. Taken too far, we care only for and about others and lose our sense of self-love. We deny and repress our needs and comfort for the higher ideal of helping others. And in the process, we lose ourselves. We repress our anger and it becomes bitterness and unforgiveness. Anything unreleased remains unreleased. If we never release our anger it grows and feeds on itself. This unreleased anger manifests emotionally, spiritually, and physically. We grow cold. We become martyrs. We develop diseases. We become less than our authentic selves.
Finding safe and loving outlets to release the anger heals us. Accepting our anger allows us to begin the process of forgiveness and to return to our authentic states of love – love for both selves and others.
If we’re feeling angry, it’s a great indicator that there’s something not quite right in our lives. We’re not being treated lovingly. Our needs and desires aren’t being met and fulfilled. When we love ourselves enough to respect and embrace our anger, we can look with clarity at our lives and the people and situations in our lives and begin to change them.
Sometimes this reflection reveals that it’s time to leave, to let go. We can’t change other people but we can change ourselves and our perception of those other people. Love doesn’t give permission to others in our lives to be unloving to us. Remaining in unloving relationships is not loving.
Pretending that anger is no longer in us because we’ve reached some place in our spiritual growth where we’ve transcended anger is foolish and delusional. It’s not loving. Accepting our anger and finding and seeing the causes with clarity leads us to opportunities to change, to find and live in higher love.
Expressing anger in excessive ways, (temper tantrums, wrath), is not loving as it harms others. Repressing anger is not loving as it harms ourselves. Pretending we are fully free of anger is not loving as it’s not authentic and truthful. Accepting, embracing, and expressing our anger in love frees us to continue our paths of growth and change.
Love and giggles,