• Carla Lemgruber

Constructive Anger

Talking about anger is quite hard. We don't like to admit our less noble feelings, even if those feelings are part of what makes us human. Realizing that we are bellow the ideal that we imagine for others and ourselves means admit to our own imperfections. It means realizing we are not as evolved as we would like to be.

I spent a long time like that, ignoring the anger I felt because I wanted to be that person that can bear and forgive everything. That's what we learn about being higher spiritually after all. Giving the other cheek, forgive without resentment, loving others no matter who they are. But true forgiveness does not come from theory.

As "un-noble" what we feel may be, worse than feeling is ignoring it. In this attempt to be spiritually elevated through accepting whatever comes from others, we may end up putting ourselves in a "spiritual superiority", without giving the chance to let this anger teach us whatever it is it came to show. We end up creating invisible barriers between the others and us, seeing just that person's flaws, and never admitting that we also might have to better ourselves. It is possible to spend almost a lifetime unconsciously operating like that, but not without heartfelt consequences. Because everything that we feel has a way to force itself out, as much as we try to repress it, rationalize it or ignore it.

Anger automatically awakens us from the universe of illusions. It's almost like the alarm that wakes us up in the morning; we try with all our strength to stay in the dream, but in the end the alarm always wins. The anger creates cracks and windows in the dream world, making us see the ugly parts of reality that we refuse to see, about ourselves, about others, about life, or about the world.

It is easier to live in the illusion, in the dream, pretending that reality corresponds to our desires and expectations. As we grow up, we create these illusions that in a way become part of us, they structure us and become part of our sense of the self, life, people, etc. It is all part of building our own sense of existence. We create hypothesis that explain why life or people are the way they are, according to the world we want to live in. But in any good scientific study, hypotheses are only the beginning of the search for true knowledge. They are created exactly with the purpose of being proved true or false. The problem is that in real life, testing the hypothesis that we build about others and us is not something that can be done without pain or change, so we take them as truthful. That is why we avoid testing them so much, spending a lot of time justifying and explaining behaviors (ours and others), just so that these "truths" are maintained.

We create an ideal of father, mother, friend or partner, and somehow we insist in fitting the real people in these ideals (our hypothesis), giving medals to the values we think they have that correspond to our board of merits, many times ignoring less pleasant characteristics. We enhance here, squeeze there, color and justify everything that doesn't fit in this "ideal person", usually with some excuse that is almost a compliment. We find noble reasons for their imperfections, and so we live these relationships with this composition of real and idealized person by us created.

It is as if our conception of reality was always a combination of what we see and what we want to see. Our expectations and desires get easily mixed with the facts, and when we realize that in an aspect the idea that we have of others or us are actually constructions of our minds in this effort to continue living in the “desired reality”, the anger comes out, sometimes with a brutal force; as a child that feels everything with great intensity, unable to be conformed, blinded by her or his own pain.

And that is why anger uses so many disguises, like guilt or anxiety. Anxiety comes from the things we feel that were not identified or recognized yet, that were not given a name or a place; it is a sign of something wanting to surface. Guilt on the other hand comes as a way of filling the emptiness left but the unmet expectations. The guilt of feeling this anger (which we make so much effort to hide) may cause us to give too much, putting ourselves in the place of the one in debt, and shielding us from seeing that what we really feel is that the other is the one in debt with us, or he or she is not what we wanted him or her to be.

And recognizing that anger can be hard, especially when it happens with people that we are afraid of loosing. For us to be able to express the anger in a relationship, it is necessary that we trust that we love and that we are love enough so that the other doesn’t abandon us; or the certainty that we prefer saying what we need, even if that means having to live without that person, depending on the type of relationship.

Anger when not expressed can distant people from each other as a kind of invisible distance, because it creates this wall of illusions and suppositions between hearts, stopping people to become closer. The feeling of being alone even when next to loved ones comes from these idealizations that we so strongly try to maintain. The more we are able to look at people as they really are, and give a voice to our feelings (as un-noble as they may be), the more we become closer to them. And that is the real path to exit the illusion of loneliness.

True forgiveness comes when we are able to out all the anger, break the walls, and after, find a way with living with whatever it may come, the relationship continuing or not. If a true bond was possible, funded in real life experiences (and not only imagined), the relationship has more chances of transforming itself and continuing, even better than before.

These little (or sometimes big) ruptures happen many times in the same relationship, at each moment that we face ourselves with this gap between fantasy and reality. In these moments, fights have an amazing power to approximate and edify. At each fight, we have the chance of improving relationships, because they allow up to reattach or build new bonds with people that are based on who both truly are.

Anger can only be felt when we don’t depend on the illusion that created it, being it about ourselves, or about others. It comes to wake us up to who we truly are, bringing as a major benefit our own freedom. Anger is an ally in self-liberation, because the only way to let go of the anger is to get rid of the weights that we no longer want to carry. When this feeling is properly heard and processed, it opens windows, brings new perspectives, and amplifies horizons.

I never knew how to feel anger. Not that I would not feel it before, but I was so scared of my own anger, that I hid it really well, mostly from myself. Lately though, the circumstances of life have forced me to feel most of what I spent a big part of my life hiding from myself.

At first, when I was finally able to recognize the anger that I feel sometimes of people that I love, I was scared. I still get scared. Anger has made me think about what places people have in my life, what I expect from them, and who they really are. And by being able to let this anger get out, I started to enjoy fighting, something that I always avoided. It is liberating to say what you really feel. Of course there will always be consequences, and dealing with them is not easy. Not always relationships survive. But when it is possible to rebuild bonds, the loved ones become even closer. Love is multiplied, things become clearer, expectations diminish, and life becomes more enjoyable, more colorful, less heavy and lonely. Just happier.

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