Is it ok to be angry?
This past weekend I attended a retreat called Awakening the Alchemist. It was the third in a series of retreats for the I AM Alchemy program that I am participating in. I have experienced tremendous shifts and growth through this program, and this retreat opened my eyes to something that I felt called to share with you.
On Sunday morning, we stood in a mist covered field and began our Qi Gong practice. As we connected to the earth and our own energy bodies, I began to notice something that felt out of place within me. It started like an annoying little tug that was trying to get my attention. I mentally swatted it away and let it know I was in the middle of something. The feeling persisted and before I knew it, I was overwhelmed with an inner temper tantrum.
Don’t tell me what to do! Let’s get out of here! I just want to go curl up in bed! I was so taken aback by this sudden outburst within my soul that I stopped my movement. I stood and just listened with confusion to this voice that was clearly in a rage.
Where in the world did this come from? I had been having such a peaceful weekend of self-reflection and learning. And we were in the middle of a slow, connecting energy practice (one of my favorite things). Why in the world was this little kid inside me throwing a fit?! One more rebellious plea and I felt a familiar inner authority begin to rise.
I don’t have time for this and I’m certainly not going to disrespect my teacher by walking out because you’re having a ridiculous temper tantrum for no apparent reason! Ouch. And with that, the voices within fell silent.
I stayed. I stood motionless as the Qi Gong practice continued. A punishment to the part of me that wanted to run away and to the part of me that wanted to continue the practice. I just stood there feeling frustrated that I was being torn between the two.
When we gathered later to reflect on our weekend, I decided that I should share the reason why I was unable to continue the practice (as I was sure everyone had noticed). What I thought was going to be a simple explanation turned into words that poured out of my soul. A bad dream had left me raw and pissed off. Trying to bury those feelings and show up as if it had not happened had only made it worse.
My teacher asked a few questions to help me process what had happened. One question stood out in particular.
“Is it ok for you to be angry?”
My gut reaction was no. But instead, I delivered an “I don’t know” which felt more acceptable. The “no” was something I would need to continue to digest.
The reason I am sharing this experience with you is because I am not the only one who has moments where it feels unsafe to allow the full expression of an emotion. This is something I continue to work on (I am human too). I also know that I am not the only one who makes choices based on the impact it will have on others instead of choosing what is best for me. What I’m inviting you to do today is to take a look at what you are keeping buried within. Or, on the other hand, what are you avoiding because it’s not safe to feel or express?
Emotions are not meant to be held, buried or avoided. They are meant to move (it’s literally in the word E – Motion). Holding space for yourself to feel into an emotion and let it tell you its message is an incredibly powerful and healing practice.
Be gentle and know that you can’t do this wrong. Be curious and follow what feels right. I encourage you to practice with less intense emotions to get started. Some examples might include:
The anger that arises when you are driving or sitting in traffic.
The jealousy that bubbles up when you see someone else receive praise.
The anxiety that amps up your nervous system when you have to do something you don’t want to do.
Once you notice the feeling, allow yourself to be with it. Notice where it resides in your body. Hold that space with tenderness and ask it some questions.
What are you here to tell me?
Why are you trying to get my attention?
What am I missing?
You can sit quietly and allow the answers to rise into your consciousness or you can journal the responses. The key here is to remain curious. This is not a time for judgement or criticism. This is a time for you to learn, listen and be tender with yourself.
You can also ask what action do I need to take?
Sometimes our emotions need us to do something in order for them to move freely through our body. Sometimes just the act of witnessing the emotion is all that is needed. Again, be curious here. Trust that what comes up is the right answer for you.