Nobody likes to feel painful emotions. As a society we do everything we can not to feel them: we numb them with substances, food, the media or other addictions, we block them out by over-scheduling, we deflect them, project them, anything to avoid the pain. But what happens when emotions don’t get processed? They can get trapped in the body and manifest as a physical pain or illness, they can fuel dis-empowering habits such as emotional over-eating or smoking, or they can keep the nervous system stuck in ongoing problems such as insomnia, anxiety, or depression. In fact, I strongly believe that behind any unwanted condition lies unprocessed emotions. Furthermore, our efforts to numb or avoid feeling painful emotions also keep us from feeling love, connection, gratitude and joy.
As an EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) practitioner, I help clients process both current and long-held emotions so they can move out of unwanted conditions and into a life of freedom and joy. EFT is a powerful technique that meets your feelings exactly where they are in any given moment and by deeply processing them through your body’s energy system, allows you to transform them in a relatively short period of time. In this 3-part series I am going to talk about three big emotions that keep people stuck – anger, grief, and shame – and give some ideas on ways to process them through the body.
Anger is a loud, bold, fiery emotion designed to protect you. It yells, “Fight!” It displays power, sets limits, and holds boundaries. It can be BIG and SCARY, but the flip side is passion, focus, enthusiasm, and joy. If you suppress your anger, you suppress your aliveness along with it.
Most of us are not taught to express anger in a healthy way. I cannot tell you how many clients I have who report they were not allowed to be angry as children. Some needed to tiptoe around alcoholic or otherwise volatile parents so as not to set off the dragon, and others were told to go to their room when they were angry until they could behave properly. I know I had a lot of judgement around my anger because it didn’t feel “spiritual.” Consequently, I did my best to deny it, which only created more problems for me to deal with later.
Let me assure you that it is not only natural and human to feel anger, but healthy to be in touch with it, so you can process it and let it out. All that energy it takes to contain it saps your health, vitality, and enthusiasm for life. If you are currently feeling angry, yet have a fear or aversion to feeling or expressing anger, the first step is to acknowledge and recognize that you are angry and that this is acceptable and part of being human. If you are not currently feeling angry, but suspect you might have anger buried within, this is also a valuable step.
In addition to the EFT/Tapping work I do with my clients, I suggest moving anger out of the body with some powerful physical activities. Here are some possibilities:
- Exercise of any kind, especially ones involving vigorous movements that get the heart rate up: running, swimming, kickboxing, aerobics, hiking, etc.
- Find a secluded place and beat a pillow with a baseball bat or riding crop, slap a piece of an old garden hose on pavement, or throw rocks at a tree. The thuds or slaps can be very satisfying. Just be sure the area is free of people and animals, so you don’t accidentally hurt anything living!
- Go to a secluded place (possibly an empty parking lot in your car) and scream and shout as loud as you can.
Anger can feel scary and out of control, but the rewards of transforming its power to fuel your purpose and goals is well worth it. Tomorrow we will look at another strong emotion with amazing potential on the other side: grief.