“Tiffany, this is your anger. Own it.”
I had spent 30 minutes on this particular morning in meditation working through some emotions that mainly involved sadness. Later I headed downstairs to make breakfast and pack lunches. I had cleared the issues at hand in meditation, or so I had thought.
After asking my son to come into the kitchen, because his pancakes were almost ready, he yelled that he wanted eggs. When I had asked the kids earlier what they wanted he hadn’t replied so I put pancakes in the toaster oven; he’d eaten them for breakfast every morning for the past month, maybe more. In fact, the next morning he asked for pancakes again.
His yelling at me was all I needed to allow the ignition of the slumbering temper tantrum within me that then ensued. I barked back in argument with him; futile efforts with a five-year-old. While I was still seething my daughter needed something. My irritation grew; I allowed it to. The quiet, still voice within gently reminded me this was not worth my anger. Luckily, I had enough awareness to avoid allowing all hell to break lose. I began to breathe and was still somewhat easily angered by their needs.
On the way to the bus stop, in one moment, I recognized something quite profound and life-altering, “Tiffany, this is your anger. Own it,” the quiet voice in my heart said. In that moment, when I chose to see that this anger truly was “all about me,” its burden upon me was lifted. Yes, it truly was that fast.
Had I woken up “on the right side of bed” that morning, I’d have been just fine with my son’s responses and meeting my children’s needs without feeling angered, perturbed nor rubbed the wrong way. By denying my anger and attempting to project it onto my kids and their needs, I wasn’t owning it.
I’m human and some days are easier than others to live more fully in love. My question for myself now is: Where was I not meeting my own needs?
For most of my life, I suppressed my anger. I would act out passive-aggressively or hold it all in until it erupted like a nuclear holocaust, raining down toxicity in waves. The fallout was often felt by those closest to me.
“Good girls don’t get angry,” or so I thought. I also believed growing up that if I controlled my emotions, I would then be able to avoid upsetting others; by definition this was manipulative. This is a habit I continue to change through mindfulness.
For years, I kept my anger tucked away, at least for as long as it could be. Then one day while I was in a counseling session while in grad school, the counselor said to me, “Tiffany, that would make me very angry.” Meanwhile, I felt nothing. The blankness I felt inside was reflected in the blank stare I gave to her in response. I wish I could remember what the story was! What I learned in the overall counseling process during those stress-inducing years was that I could no longer suppress my feelings; not even my anger.
Anger in Spirituality
Anger is one of those taboo emotions that many in spiritual communities try to deny, ignore, suppress, and et cetera. These actions are like trying to cut off your foot because it isn’t visually appealing. Our anger is part of us. Just as our Egos are. To deny our egos or our anger is to allow them to grow unchecked. It is only when we acknowledge their existence and own them that we truly gain control over them.
Now, I do believe that holding onto any emotion can be dangerous. It is the suppression of the feeling that leads to a loss of control. Much like I felt that morning over breakfast: “I shouldn’t be angry,” I thought. Red flag! As soon as those thoughts crop up, it’s a sign we’re suppressing.
Suppressed emotions can also show up in the collective unconscious, according to Carl Jung. It is by acknowledging our feelings on an individual level that prevents this collective from accumulating more terrors.
Suppressed feelings show their faces somewhere. So do we choose to own it or let it play out somewhere else where we have less control of it?