I don’t know about you, love, but when I was growing up it was unacceptable, both socially and in my immediate nuclear family, to get angry. Good girls didn’t get angry – good girls bit their tongues, stayed quiet, didn’t rock the boat.
So I learned a more socially acceptable form of coping for a
girl – I cried. A lot. I was labeled sensitive, anxious, worried. But never angry. Oh, no. I made sure of that. No one ever heard what I really thought.
It wasn’t until my adulthood that I finally realized what a heavy burden it was to carry around my unspoken anger. I started to experiment a little. I started asking myself important questions like:
“I wonder what would happen if I said no?”
“I wonder what would happen if I wasn’t always the nice girl?”
“I wonder what it would feel like to just let all these words I wanna say fall out of my mouth?”
Here’s what I learned. People who think they know you will be shocked. The role you’ve been filling in your relationships will be challenged. You’ll be told you are acting bitchy, or like someone’s ex-wife, or unfeminine, or unreasonable. You’ll be called difficult, or worse, you’ll be tuned out completely.
Ah, but this is the most important part. If you want to grow as a woman, as the goddess you are, you must be willing to practice and master the art of disappointment.
You can go your entire life without disappointing a single soul – and chances are you will be miserable. The weight of living your life to please others is crippling in the end. Even the Dalai Lama gets angry – he’s admitted it. So there you go. If it’s acceptable for one of the greatest spiritual and enlightened souls of all time to admit to anger, there’s your green light.
First things first – I’m not saying all anger is justified. And I’m not condoning temper tantrums. The key is learning to deal with anger calmly and productively. But it’s important to recognize the most common hot button anger triggers for women who feel a sense of oppression surrounding their lives:
Struggling with saying no, even when she doesn’t have anything left to give.
Feeling misunderstood and/or judged.
Having a sense that no one really knows the true person she is.
Feeling powerless to change her situation.
Feeling taken for granted.
The pressure of feeling like it’s expected of her to be happy and positive all the time.
In order to honor our higher selves and to evolve into the fullest expression of our powerful, strong, goddess selves, it’s time to become cozy bedfellows with our anger.
RULE #1. Anger is okay. Misuse of anger is not.
It is not okay to hurt people. It is not okay to be violent. It is not okay to be disgraceful or tactless or unfair. Period.
RULE #2. Are you sure about what you’re sure about?
Be careful that your anger is warranted. Anytime we feel angry stirrings, it’s important to really sit with them. Evaluate what it is that is so upsetting to you and make sure that you are clear about your reasons. We tell ourselves stories all the time about situations, people, circumstances . . . make sure you aren’t jumping the gun on something before your anger takes root. Were you having a bad day already? Were you feeling stressed? Exhausted? Overwhelmed? Check in with yourself first.
There is a story I like to share about a young Native American woman who was feeling rather discontented with her life and didn’t know what to do with her frustration. She went to the village elder and asked for guidance. The wise elder replied, “First you must go to the waters. Wade into the river and be mindful. When the water is still, you will have your answers.”
So the young woman listened to the wise man and walked to the river. She stood in the water and tried to focus her mind. The ripples continued to move about her legs, the birds flew overhead, the fish swam by, the trees bowed their branches in the breeze. But she received no messages.
Frustrated, she visited the elder once more. “It didn’t work,” she said.
“Then you must try again,” he replied.
Unconvinced, the young woman went to the river once more. And again, she left without the answers she craved.
Consulting her elder once more and getting the same advice yet again, she became angry. She had already tried his advice and it was certainly not working. Nonetheless, she trudged her way to the waters once more.
This time, however, as she stood watching her reflection, she realized what anger had done to her countenance. She could see the furrowed brow, the frown lines of her face – she barely recognized herself. And then something became clear – the only person her frustration was hurting was herself.
She continued to watch the water. The ripples continued to flow. The birds continued their movement. The fish continued to swim by her feet. Nothing had changed. And nothing would. The waters would never become still. These were things that were out of her control. All she could control was her thinking – that was the only thing she could change. Her expression softened, her anger abated, and she got very clear with herself: she could only find the answers to her discontentment within, not without.
Moral of the story: be mindful of your thoughts, because thoughts are things. There will be situations you cannot change, so is what you are angry about within your control? If so, change it. If not, release it. You are only burning yourself by holding onto the hot coals of anger. Always be sure about the truth of every situation before you let it get the best of you.
RULE #3. Just because someone has been part of your life forever doesn’t mean they are good for you.
Some people are energy vampires. Some people are toxic. Some people are just mean (more on this in another blog).
And some people . . . well, some people just aren’t good for you.
I am giving you permission, right now, this very moment, to be free of the guilt you probably feel when you finally admit to yourself that your sibling/parent/family friend does not bring out the best in you, and vice versa. This person may actually be hurting you, holding you back, making you feel less of yourself, dimming your light. Here’s what you have to tell yourself, and perhaps even the person you are thinking of: In order to honor yourself and the relationship you have had up until now, you need to put some distance between the two of you for awhile (or permanently) to preserve your sense of peace and purpose.
Remember that most people in our lives say or do hurtful things out of their own limitations – 99.9 percent of the time they’re operating from their own emotional constraints. Rarely is it a reflection of you – it is most often a reflection of where they are in their emotional maturity.
One of my favorite quotes is this: “Before you go diagnosing yourself as depressed or angry, first make sure you are not, in fact, surrounded by assholes.”
Truth. And think of it this way – by allowing people to treat you in a way that is not comfortable for you, you are not doing them any favors in helping them along their own path of learning. By enabling them to make you feel sad and angry, you are giving them power for the wrong reasons and depriving them the opportunity to discover their own limitations and make changes that will help them grow on their journey as well.
Above all, remember dearest, feeling angry is a normal emotional response. How you deal with it either gives you power or takes it away.
And one thing a goddess NEVER, EVER does, at all costs, is give away her power.
Because you are beautiful and strong and radiant beyond measure.
In love and goddess solidarity,