“Anger is just sad’s bodyguard”
This quote passed my way recently and for me it resonates with profound simple truth. Getting in touch with emotions behind anger can be a helpful practice when you’re going through healing crisis and you find old repressed anger is shifting it’s way up and out with nowhere to go but through you. A painful journey but necessary when you don’t want to live within the confines of old anger anymore.
Here is a helpful practice from Jack Kornfield’s The Wise Heart for discovering the pain and fear behind anger.
“Begin to notice mindfully how often states of anger arise in your life. Notice how anger can come in many forms: the critic, the self-righteous victim, the reactive controller, the judge, the know it all. Sense how your anger affects the various parts of your body. Take your time and really feel it. Then notice the waves of other emotions such as aggression, vindictiveness, anxiety, and excitement, that come along with anger. Stay mindful. Next become aware of the stories it tells, the self-justifying beliefs and views that support it. Notice how easy it is to be attached, to identify with all of these experiences.
Now you are ready to notice what is behind this anger. Sense the movement to strike out, to blame. And then ask yourself what is the hurt or fear that is giving rise to this anger. Look honestly at how you feel hurt and pained, what you are afraid might happen.
Acknowledge this deep level of vulnerability as a part of the whole situation. Now imagine how you might communicate about your fear and hurt rather than blame. Let your heart teach you. You can speak and respond to the problem in a way that respects yourself and others. Let this become a regular practice as you work with anger.”
And this teaching applies just as much to our communication with self as it does with others.