The Contradiction of Anger: A Double-Edged Sword

Anger is an emotion that everyone experiences in their lives. It can surge through us with a powerful intensity, often making us feel justified and validated. There’s a peculiar sense of satisfaction that comes with expressing anger, as if we are reclaiming a piece of our power. Yet, this fiery emotion holds a contradiction within it.

There is a Hungarian band, Napoleon Boulevard, who poignantly sings, “My heart’s almost torn in half, my rage is tearing it apart, beautiful as a dream can be, too bad it hurts so much.” This lyric encapsulates the paradox of anger: while it can feel so right in the moment, it carries a heavy toll on our mind and body.

Anger’s Impact on the Sympathetic Nervous System:

When we get angry, keep in mind that anger can feel like the emotion of disappointment or “slight annoyance” we don’t recognize as anger, our body’s sympathetic nervous system kicks into high gear. This part of our central nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. It prepares us to face a threat by increasing our heart rate, tightening our muscles, and releasing stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. In the short term, these changes can help us handle a dangerous situation. However, when anger becomes a frequent or prolonged state, it begins to wreak havoc on our physical and emotional health – our craniosacral system stops working optimally.

Chronic anger can lead to a host of health issues. The constant release of stress hormones can cause:

  • Cardiovascular Problems: High blood pressure, increased risk of heart attacks, and strokes are all linked to sustained anger.
  • Weakened Immune System: Prolonged stress weakens our body’s ability to fend off illnesses.
  • Digestive Issues: Stress can lead to problems like acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other gastrointestinal disturbances.
  • Sleep Disorders: Difficulty in sleeping or staying asleep, leading to chronic fatigue and other related issues.

Emotionally, anger can be just as damaging:

  • Increased Anxiety and Depression: Anger and unresolved rage can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression.
  • Relationship Strain: Anger can drive a wedge between us and our loved ones, leading to isolation and loneliness.
  • Reduced Cognitive Function: Chronic stress affects our ability to think clearly, make decisions, and concentrate.

The Beauty and Pain of Anger

Returning to the lyric from Napoleon Boulevard, we can understand anger as both beautiful and painful. It is beautiful in its raw, unfiltered expression of our deepest emotions and desires. Anger can act as a powerful motivator, pushing us to stand up for ourselves, to strive for change, and to overcome injustices. It can fuel our passions and drive us towards our goals with an intensity that few other emotions can match. There is nothing wrong with this, however, our central nervous system is being affected in the fight or flight (sympathetic side) no matter what we are angry about, hence this beauty is accompanied by pain.

The physical and emotional toll of unchecked anger is profound. It tears at our hearts, much like the song suggests, leaving us fragmented and wounded. The key is to find our balance—acknowledging our anger, expressing it healthily by changing our perception about the very thing that triggered it, and then experience the new point of view with gratitude – this is what is normally called “letting go”.

Craniosacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release

As a wellness coach specializing in craniosacral therapy and somatic emotional release, I see firsthand how unprocessed emotions, particularly anger, can lodge in the body and disrupt our well-being. Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on approach that helps release tensions deep in the body, allowing the entire body to relax and self-correct. This technique can facilitate the release of emotional trauma stored in the tissues, a process known as SomatoEmotional Release (SER).

During a CST session, I may gently palpate the client’s craniosacral system to detect and release restrictions. This not only helps alleviate physical discomfort, but also promotes emotional release with the use of imagery and dialogue. By working with the body’s natural rhythms and energy, CST can help clients process and let go of deep-seated anger and other  emotions that trigger the sympathetic (fight or flight) side of our central nervous system.

The Power of Curiosity: Shifting Perception

Talking about changing our perception, an important insight to consider is that we are often not upset for the reasons we think. Anger is frequently a surface emotion, masking deeper, unresolved feelings such as fear, hurt, lack or sadness. By approaching our anger with curiosity, we can uncover its true origins. This requires a willingness to look beyond the immediate trigger and explore the underlying issues that fuel our rage.

When we become curious about the root causes of our anger, we can begin to shift our perception. Instead of seeing a situation as purely aggravating or unjust, we can ask ourselves what deeper needs or fears are being activated. This shift in perspective allows us to address the real issues at hand, leading to more meaningful and lasting resolutions.

Cultivating Healthy Emotional Habits

In addition to CST and SER, adopting certain practices can help manage anger more effectively:

  • Mindfulness and Meditation: These practices help us become more aware of our emotions and reduce the intensity of our anger.
  • Physical Activity: Exercise is a powerful outlet for pent-up anger and stress.
  • Communication Skills: Learning to express feelings calmly and constructively can prevent anger from building up.
  • Therapeutic Techniques: Techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help in re-framing negative thought patterns that fuel anger.

By recognizing the dual nature of anger—its capacity to both empower and harm—we can take steps to harness its energy in positive ways while mitigating its detrimental effects. In doing so, we can move towards a state of emotional balance and well-being, where anger will no longer need to serve as a catalyst for growth or be a source of suffering.

In the end, anger, like all emotions, is a part of the human experience. “The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.” – ACIM

It is how we handle anger that makes all the difference.

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Kathy Moser

Kathy Moser

Through my extensive training, skill, and intuition, and 35+ years of experience teaching and coaching, I will guide you toward an unwavering inner peace, free of pain, tension, and discomfort. A state that allows you to become aware of your healthy and happy mind and body. A state in which”you are loved to all extensions your imagination takes you”.

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