We typically view anger as a negative emotion that we want to get rid of as fast as possible. Anger can feel like losing control, or like we’re letting someone get the better of us and keep us in a negative emotion.
And those are real aspects of anger.
But anger can also cover up feelings of fear, betrayal, pain, grief, and other complex emotions that we won’t fully process if we don’t let the anger pass through.
In my course, participants classify themselves as a character type common to games, like a Druid, Wizard, or — most applicable to this blog — Barbarian.
The Barbarian, in a gaming context, is a character with brute strength, a fierce fighter that can go into a rage mode and take down strong enemies.
The adaptation for my course is someone who fights back against an abusive person, and who may shut down and walk away from relationships at the first sign of conflict because at the first sign of anger, they feel out of control like they did in a past traumatic experience.
The Barbarian’s recovery into a more healed version of themself with healthier boundaries and communication will rely on processing of the trauma behind their rage and anger.
Our anger only controls us and keeps us from healthier relationships when we don’t understand what it’s doing: trying to protect us.
What is your anger protecting you from?
Anger is like a protective fire around you. Guilt, shame, fear, grief — they all burn up before they can touch you and hurt you. That’s what your anger wants to do for you.
We tend to try to rush it, to get away from anger, because it’s uncomfortable to sit in a negative emotion. We want to be happy and cheerful and calm and totally okay. But sometimes we’re not okay!
Let yourself feel angry for a few moments. Feel where the anger settles in your body. Talk to it if you’re so inclined — “Hey anger, I know you’re pissed about the neighbor being loud. It’s very annoying.”