July 17, 2020

Are You Angry? Embrace It and Transform It!

Just a few weeks ago, we believed that Covid-19 and its economic consequences would be the most significant events of 2020. Yet, we didn’t foresee the massive, countrywide protests triggered by police brutality and systemic racism. It’s left many people feeling frustrated and angry.

When confronting these events, many people are emotionally and intellectually overwhelmed by feelings of grief, rage, and deep disappointment. 

When reflecting on the present, history provides us with several examples where anger in society was channeled into a moral force for change. Consider the women’s suffrage movement and the civil rights movement, both of which were sparked and sustained by anger around social injustice. 

The heightened emotional state of anger is charged with power and hidden potential. Becoming familiar with our emotions, and seeing them for what they are, allows us to navigate behavior and explore the potential power for the good within this state.

Anger is a distinctly human emotion that serves an evolutionary purpose: preparing us for “fight or flight” when faced with an enemy or danger. Most of us see anger as a terrible thing, an uncontrollable destructive force defined by rage and aggression. Still, it is one of our most basic emotions, one that is often misunderstood. We are conditioned to see anger as something negative, an emotion that needs to be suppressed, something to be cloaked under layers of controlled behavior. 

But, could you transform these emotions? Could you channel them into something positive; into something capable of redefining your daily life? 

How would your perception of anger change, if you thought of it in terms of energy — a powerful force that could be harnessed and made creative, a force you wouldn’t want to negate or suppress. Instead, you could transform anger into a source of creative potential, a valuable wellspring for your future endeavors. 

According to the laws of physics, energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only converted from one form of energy to another. As human beings, we can transform our emotions into energy that could be harnessed and channeled as a practical foundation for our well-being. Observing our emotions, rather than acting them out impulsively and with intensity, can create a sense of space and detachment. There should be no identification with your feelings, no losing yourself in an emotion; just the latent power to transform it.

There’s a practical, three-step strategy to transform the anger we feel in our bodies into a form of energy. With the help of visualization and a series of breathing techniques, this energy can be stored and then channeled back when you need it most. These three steps are embracing, identifying and transforming.

1.  Embrace the Feeling. First, we have to allow ourselves to feel the anger. Of course, this should be done without emphasizing it or harming yourself or others. Instead, let yourself feel the anger as a chain of natural reactions occurring within your body. It would be best if you came to recognize that anger is not you, nor is it your natural condition. Although it may seem to reside in you, you can “step back” and watch this reaction in your body — detached and secure. Don’t attempt to justify your feelings, look for the reasons behind it or trace its origins. Instead of thinking in terms of ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ try to recognize what your anger feels like.

2.  Identify the Feeling. Once you have acknowledged what you are feeling, you can investigate your anger more deeply. Do it dispassionately and without judging. Investigate the feeling, its intensity, and scope, but not its cause. Try to focus exclusively on your body instead of your thoughts and mental reasoning. Try to identify those parts of your body where the sensation of anger is most intense, where the anger is intimately connected to your body. Is it in your head, hands, throat? Maybe it’s in your heart or stomach? Describe it. What does it taste like? What color is it? Can you give it a name?

3. Transform the Energy of Anger. Once you have recognized and named your feeling, you can start to transform it. Begin by breathing it in. Harnessing your breath and channeling it is a failsafe way to deal with anger. Our breath is a fundamental tool that is available to us instantly, and requires no investment or equipment. We tend to take this vital function for granted and are mostly unaware of its ability to harmonize, bring balance, and heal. Breathing into your anger once you have identified, it will neutralize many of your body’s adverse reactions. Breathe with your stomach and see how your body relaxes with each gentle exhalation. Let that relaxation deepen with each breath. Watch how the anger begins to merge and transform as you breathe. With each smooth inhalation, visualize the energy being successfully stored in your abdominal region. Sense that energy transforming into the energy of your potential. Then, stay centered and present as you move forward.