I am going to get really real with you guys in this post.
This post is long and detailed, so if you only have a couple of minutes, you might want to come back to this one!
I have been talking all about the positive power of negative emotions and how useful they are. I have always been as truthful as I could be at the time, but as new realization come up I have to update my story and get real all over again!
To be honest, there is one emotion that I was not allowing myself to feel…ANGER.
I did not allow myself to feel anger for a really long time. I told myself that “I just didn’t get angry” that "I just wasn't an angry kind of person". As you can imagine this pissed a lot of normal people off! Whenever something close to anger would start to come up for me, I would transform it into frustration or disappointment so quickly that I never consciously felt the anger itself.
Why would I do this? Because I believed deep down that anger, was an emotion that had no constructive value. I believed that anger was all hate and no love. That anger was throwing things and hurting people and not having any care or consideration for what other people felt.
This is how I interpreted the anger that I saw and experienced as a child. I never saw anger used in a way that I considered positive or constructive. Anger was never fuel for right action, it was only an uncontrollable outburst of denial and hurt. I did not want to be that way and so I told myself, forced myself to believe over many years of repression, that I never got angry.
And then I found this Chakra workshop on Meetup.com.
I had been putting it out there to the universe, that I was willing to remove any blocks to growth and love and that I wanted someone to help me do it.
As always, the universe delivered in spectacular fashion.
Okay story time...
So I get to this workshop and there are way fewer people than I anticipated, only 3 women, a little boy and the group leader’s husband. The three women were all energy healers or training to be so. I went into this class expecting.. a class. I expected to be sitting quietly taking notes for 2 hours. Instead, I received a deep 3 hour therapy session, focused almost solely on me. The women were very kind and made it very clear that they were happy to hold space for me, but they also expected me to open up and release my energetic blocks; which was what I was there to learn how to do!
Holy Freak’n Cow people!
As much as I believe in really feeling into emotion and being open and vulnerable, and as much as I really wanted to release my blocks, I normally do it alone where no one will see or interrupt me. Being the center of attention in a group of strangers for 3 hours was super ridiculously challenging for me.
I instinctively went into Fight or Flight mode and put up as many energetic walls, blocks and barricades as I possibly could. It was as if there were an invading army come to destroy me and my castle and I was doing everything I could to withhold the siege. To continue this metaphor, I literally put stakes around my moat, filled my moat with crocodiles, pulled up the drawbridge, prepped all the buckets of hot oil, set the pet dragon loose and locked myself in my tower bedroom!
I did not know that I could be that energetically defensive. I could literally feel my energy shields closing in around me. Even though they were uncomfortably tight and extremely confining, I could not let them down in front of people.
So getting back to the topic of anger for a moment...
During this session, I brought up the fact that I couldn’t make myself feel anger. They all looked at me like I had 5 heads and that was enough to make me realize that my lack of anger was unusual and probably unhealthy. They also all immediately jumped up and started doing Reiki on me, which I tried to be as open to as I could under the circumstances.
I had never experienced Reiki before and it honestly felt like I was a tube of toothpaste being squeezed from the bottom up, until all the contents were removed and only a flat, scraped out container remained.
I left that session, never having taken down my walls. I also left with the realization that anger was a normal human emotion and that I was apparently a master at putting up blocks!
I tried to call my husband as I walked towards my car. He didn’t answer, he never does (he has horrible cell service at this job) and I felt a spark of something. I ignored it.
As I began driving home however, in the safe space of my car, the tears started to flow and this intense feeling started to rise in my gut. Before I knew it I was screaming. Thank goodness I was in the car on the highway where no one could hear me because it sounded like I was being murdered (I was a little afraid of shattering my windows). I have never, ever screamed like that in my entire life.
As I screamed and screamed, all the injustice, all the feelings of abandonment and betrayal and gut wrenching sadness that I have experienced in my life, came up for me all at once and I was OUTRAGED at it all.
For most of my life, my response to being hurt or taken advantage of or wronged in some way was to do two things…
Self assess and try to figure out what I did wrong or what my part in the situation was
Make excuses for the person who hurt me. I would think things like “They must just be going through a lot right now and needed to take it out on someone, I understand.”
I did not know how to say “No, you crossed the line, this is no longer okay!” I didn’t have enough self love or respect to stick up for myself and set real boundaries. I was so afraid of hurting other people’s feelings by getting angry that I never came to that realization of enough is enough, now it’s time to stick up for myself.
After that car ride, I got home, made a cup of tea with tons of honey (because my throat really hurt by then) and got out my journal and started free writing.
The biggest surprise that flowed out of my pen and onto the paper was…
“Anger is a teacher, just like every other emotion. Anger lets us know when we have experienced an injustice. Anger is the spark that lights the fire of action within us to set wrongs to right and to stick up for ourselves and for others who need our help. I wish that someone had gotten angry enough to stick up for me when I was a kid, when I needed and deserved to be defended. I wish that I had gotten angry enough to set some impenetrable boundaries as a young adult. I want to be the type of parent that is open enough to get a little angry and strong enough to stick up for my kids. “
This “I love myself so much that it pisses me off to be mistreated and I am going to do something about it!” is type of anger that stems from love.
Now here is a major clarification.
Anger is a teacher and can be a driving force for good. Anger does not give you an excuse to hurt others or treat other’s poorly in return for treating you poorly. Anger is an indicator, it tells us that something needs to change, that it is time to set firm boundaries that are not allowed to be crossed. The actions that we take as a result of getting angry can and should still be performed with loving and compassionate intention.
A small, everyday example:
A family member says something hurtful and rude to you at a gathering. It makes you a little angry (so you know something is wrong here). You love yourself too much to just let the comment slide. You also want your response to be authentic, firm and uncompromising, but you don’t want to just lash out and hurt them in return. So maybe your response looks something like this…
“That comment was actually really hurtful and not okay!”
This is said straight up, without the placating smile or little laugh designed to let them know you are "ha ha ... only kidding", if they decide to take offense. There is no backing out and no compromising.
Most of the time, people speak without really thinking about the effect their words have on others. Your honest reaction might just come as a complete surprise and they will sincerely apologize.
If the conflict continues, you can always remove yourself from the situation.
People who don’t care if they hurt you do not deserve to be in your life!
Let me say that again.
People who don’t care about you do not deserve to be in your life!
Sometimes people come around and reconsider their viewpoint after they have time to reflect (minutes, days, years, lifetimes) and if a time comes when they change and start to genuinely care for you, you can reevaluate how much of a role you want them to have in your life.
But in the end, you control your own reality and you get to choose who you share that reality with.
This is the big lesson that I am working on learning right now…
Authentic actions that come from self love or your love for others may, at times, hurt other people’s feelings. Which totally sucks, but their hurt is their choice. Just as you get to choose how you react to the actions of others, others choose how to react to your truth.
I am not responsible for other people’s feelings or reactions. I can only be responsible for my own feelings and actions and try to align myself as closely to love and compassion as possible.
Hiding your truth to spare other people’s feelings is placing higher value on their feelings than you place on your own. That is NOT practicing self love.
It also means that you are assuming that they are not capable of handling the truth you need to share. By shrinking down and not speaking your truth, you are stealing away the other person’s opportunity to not only know the true you, but their opportunity to grow!
People can also sense when you are holding back, omitting or not being authentic and it sends them a signal that they cannot trust you enough to be authentic with you.
Conflict is scary shit! I am terrified of losing the close connection to people I love and respect. I am terrified of being real and possibly hurting their feelings. But I also know that if I am not authentic with people I love, I am not actually as close to them as I would like to think.
My whole life, I have practiced the art of being a social chameleon, creating subtly different versions of myself depending on the situation or who I was with. I trained myself to do this, subconsciously, as a child and used it as a survival / defense mechanism. Everyone was only allowed to see the version of me that I carefully (if unconsciously) crafted to be exactly who I assumed they wanted me to be.
I hated being in crowds or large social gatherings, because they exhausted me. My subconscious was working overtime trying to calculate the common denominator of all the individual versions of me. Normally, I resorted to being quiet, watching and listening. People always came up to me to ask if something was wrong or they just assumed I was shy or that I thought I was “too cool for school”.
So now I am starting my journey towards expressing my most authentic self. I am starting by sharing this with all of you and by beginning to notice and question my automatic responses and behaviors.
I am asking myself “Can I be any more authentic in this moment?” and a lot of times the answer is yes! I am starting with my husband, who I feel the most comfortable with and working my way out through my social circles.
Wish me luck my friends and I hope that this super long account was helpful to you as well.
Keep growing and changing and becoming the truest you that you can be!
Sending all my love and compassion to you!