Continuing in our series on emotions, we talk about emotions or suppressing of emotions and their affect on the mindbody. In this episode we will explore:
Destructive Power of Your Anger
Debra Maldonado, Robert Maldonado
Debra Maldonado 00:06
Here we are, another episode of Soul Sessions with Creative Mind. What are we talking about today?
Robert Maldonado 00:13
Good to be here. Today we're talking about our continuing series on emotions. This one is on anger, probably one of the main emotions that nobody gets away with, not working with, even the Dalai Lama. When they asked him “Do you get angry?” “Of course, I do. I have to work with it.”
Debra Maldonado 00:38
I remember when we first met, I was dealing with someone who was angry at me. I didn't know shadow work yet, I was still doing my law of attraction stuff. You said “That's your anger.” I said “I'm not angry.” Then I worked through it, I realized all this anger I’d been not aware of, that I've been suppressing but it was right on the peripheral. I kind of knew it was there, I felt the edges of it. We don't want to be seen as angry, we think angry is bad. This is going to be an interesting conversation. Either you're aware of being angry, or maybe you're not aware, maybe we'll make you aware of this powerful emotion.
Robert Maldonado 01:30
We're gonna talk about how we get conditioned around anger in general, the things that a lot of us experience. What happens when we repress anger? What does that look like? What does it do to our innards? And how to work with it? I have just some ideas on what do I do if I identify some of these things that you guys are talking about, you must be repressing anger. Or it's time for me to deal with this anger. How do I go about that?
Debra Maldonado 02:08
When it comes to anger, how would you describe what anger is? How can someone identify something as anger? I think a lot of people think anger is just a obvious, shouting, yelling, angry person. But anger also comes in— I call it “anger light” — frustration, a little resentment, like a little pebble in your shoe, either towards yourself or for others. It digs into you, you feel this tension in your body. But you don't think of it as anger, you think “I'm just frustrated.” It's like putting a nice bow on anger in a way, not letting yourself fully feel that powerful emotion.
Robert Maldonado 02:52
Let's back up a little bit. Evolutionary wise, it's part of the tools, one of the great tools that we have to deal with difficult situations. If somebody transgresses against us like in animal life, your response is an angry response to protect yourself, to defend the loved ones, to defend the group, etc. It evolved over millions of years, maybe even further because it goes back into animal life as a protective mechanism, as a defense mechanism, as a way of understanding what are the boundaries that we want to set up with others as well, how to communicate those boundaries. What do we do when people trespass those boundaries? It’s a very natural and useful part of our emotional life. It is essentially a survival tool. Now, because it's natural, do we want to be expressing it all over the place? Of course not. We need to understand it. But what happens when we get conditioned around the expression of anger? We're told “Don't do that.” We're repeatedly told “Do not show these because they're considered negative.” They’re identified as bad, negative emotions. That starts that conditioning right there. If we express this anger we're judging ourselves to be bad because everyone has told us that's a negative emotion, it's a bad one, you want to get it under control. But they don't tell us how, they tell us to repress.
Debra Maldonado 05:06
When you're a kid and you throw a toy across the room, your parent says “Don't be angry, or you get punished for it.” Or in school, the world looks at you in shame, shaming you for the anger. But what about groups that are angry? They're out there in the world, with the pitchforks, railing against something. There's so also power in the group through anger? Is that from evolutionary terms like going to war? There's some camaraderie or comfort we all share. Just the opposite of what you're saying. The group looks down on anger, there's also groups that feed on anger.
Robert Maldonado 05:57
Absolutely. But we would consider those baser emotions, and combine that with the ignorance of human nature and how things should be done, like the rule of law.
Debra Maldonado 06:11
Not critical thinking, more like groupthink. Anger can actually become addictive to groups and everyone. When I was in the corporate world, if someone had a problem with the boss, we'd all get together and be angry. It gave us this sort of fuel. But we never really dealt with the person, we were using gossip or venting amongst each other. That's not really a good way. We're going to get into the ways to process it. But there is that element too where anger is accepted. To talk about it and about how mad you are.
Robert Maldonado 06:49
What do you think about football teams? Sports teams. It's us against them. It gets visceral, people actually act out. Very few comparatively but there is that idea of “Let's wrap it up, let's get this anger going towards the other team so that our team has that support.”
Debra Maldonado 07:20
It’s like a power, it has a lot of power in there. When you're in a group that doesn't let you express it, you're feeling powerless and self judging, so you repress it. And when you're in a group that lets you express it, it may get out of control. Either way. How do we get conditioned around anger? Like you said, we were told not to express it.
Robert Maldonado 07:48
At the individual level, some of the most common causes and triggers of repressed anger. These are things that predispose you to repressing the anger, to judging it as bad and something to be avoided. Having perfectionistic tendencies. Do you know anybody like that?
Debra Maldonado 08:11
I don't know, I just let myself make mistakes all the time.That tightness, rigidness, that perfectionism, the strict, almost a totalitarian, authoritarian way you regulate yourself, you never give yourself a break.
Robert Maldonado 08:32
Losing control would be seen as a no no for such a person. It would be something that is repressed. Using mood altering substances like drugs or alcohol. This is a controversial one, we’ve spoken about it before. We're talking about people who use drugs and alcohol as self medication. Instead of dealing with their anger, they take a drink, they smoke some pot, they take some drug to avoid dealing with it.
Debra Maldonado 09:12
Or I've seen people that drink, they are this quiet person, and when they drink the anger comes out.
Robert Maldonado 09:23
Also having a tendency to intellectualize your emotions. Another one is wanting to please others.
Debra Maldonado 09:46
He is psychoanalyzing me on the podcast today. This has been a deep conditioning around my growing up. My mother is such a sweet woman, she's always trying to please. I adopted that behaviour. Every one of my family is that pleasing, good, do gooders. When you told me it was my anger, I was like “I am not angry, I'm so kind and giving.” But then we overgive, people don't appreciate it, or people take advantage of that. Then it’s anger and you can't express it. One of the things that I discovered recently is that pleasing is a way to suppress other people's anger. It's a manipulation. It's a control toolkit you use to keep everyone from getting mad at you. Not only you're afraid of your own anger, but you're afraid of others’ anger as well.
Robert Maldonado 10:48
What happens when we repress anger, and Freud, of course, was a genius at this, he came up with this whole idea of repression. Looking at what happens, he says “Think of a house with a chimney. The chimney has been blocked, and the fire is on, the smoke starts to fill the room. You can contain it for a while. But sooner or later, the smoke is going to start to come out the bottom of the doors, through any gaps in the windows, etc. That's an apt metaphor.
Debra Maldonado 11:29
I think the one that you have on your list here, overuse of sarcasm and cynicism. Anyone who's on the East Coast, we all have that sarcasm we use a lot. Kind of cynicism, critical, picking. It's not overly aggressive. It's just a little picking and cynicism about life, a little frustration with life. It comes across as cynicism. I think we learn the way to explain how we deal with anger through our parents. When we see how our parents dealt with it, some people use humor to push away anger, sarcasm, or avoiding the anger in some way. We look at the way our parents dealt with it, their family systems, and our culture. Then we decide, okay, this is how we deal with it. Because as babies we don't know what this anger is. We just can get conditioned individually to a different way to deal with it. That's why there's so many variety of people that deal with anger in different ways. We feel like why can't everyone be like me, pleasing and just go with the flow. Then there's that one person that's angry all the time. They're actually showing me an aspect of myself.
Robert Maldonado 12:59
Overuse of sarcasm and cynicism. Here the key word is overuse. When it becomes the go to, the person is always in that cynical mode of criticizing others and things.
Debra Maldonado 13:18
Everything's terrible. Everything's bad. Complaining a lot.
Robert Maldonado 13:23
It sours the personality. These are signs that you've been repressing anger, and it's starting to seep out the bottom of the door. Becoming defensive when accused of being angry. Feeling a need to control many things in your life. You feel like things are out of control, you're very uncomfortable. You want to get things back in under control, so you can relax. Being passive aggressive when you interact.
Debra Maldonado 14:21
Could you describe passive aggressiveness? For people who don't know what that is, because that term is thrown around a lot.
Robert Maldonado 14:34
It's when you appear to agree on the surface, but then you do things to sabotage that agreement, underhand it and say “That was my fault.” You agree to take the trash out, but then you spill the trash on the driveway and say “Oops.”
Debra Maldonado 15:04
Almost unconscious resentment.
Robert Maldonado 15:07
It's not unconscious, well, it is unconscious in the sense that the person often is not really aware why they're doing it. They think “I'm getting back at them” on the surface, but it's really that repressed anger.
Debra Maldonado 15:24
What about someone who is angry, but they don't tell you directly, maybe trying to manipulate the words, maybe a little sarcasm, is that passive aggressive? Where you're being nice, but insulting them at the same time.
Robert Maldonado 15:47
This could be passive aggressive. The woman that says “That's a beautiful dress. I didn't know they made it in your size.” That kind of double communication. Having difficulty setting boundaries, standing up for yourself and saying no, that might indicate that you're repressing anger, you're afraid to express anger, or that you will get angry in the process and blow up.
Debra Maldonado 16:36
I have a term I use for anger. It's unexpressed passion, where anger is this burden, like the fire burning, this desire in us to grow and survive and take care of ourselves. We have a natural self protective mechanism, and when we don't speak up it becomes anger. We don't say that's wrong or keep your boundaries. I think women are conditioned to be more passive, go with the flow. Men are taught to fight the battle. Women keep the peace.What you think about women having a lot more anger to deal with?
Robert Maldonado 17:20
I think it might be a little bit different. But either way, we don't want to buy into anger and let it dominate our lives. Because that's what will happen if we get used to the idea that I'm going to use anger or aggression to deal with my situations all the time.
Debra Maldonado 17:39
You could be you be passive aggressive, that's your go to. You can be pleasing to deal with your anger. Or you can actually be angry all the time to deal with your anger. But all those qualities aren't really giving you freedom because they're acting out of aggression. A lot of times I see that a person who had their parent dealt with anger, if their parent was angry at them, yelling at them, that person would tend to want to do unconsciously, even though they didn't like it, they want to find a scapegoat to pass it along, just like any kind of pattern to get that power.
Robert Maldonado 18:16
Becoming explosive when you find yourself angry. When the cat is let out of the bag, it really takes over. The person appears to be fighting for their lives, when it might just be something small, insignificant, boundary issue or something.
Debra Maldonado 18:38
The key there is that when we do explode, or we please, or any of these things that we do with anger, the emotion is taking over versus making the decision. Even if we're not expressing the anger and we're pleasing, that conditioning is making the decision for us.
Robert Maldonado 18:58
Just quickly, a few other things: complaining a lot, frequent negative critical thoughts, feeling bitter, ignoring things that bother you, holding grudges, feeling guilty and ashamed. Often people don't make this connection. People that talk about shame. A lot of it could be tied to repressed anger.
Debra Maldonado 19:24
They don't feel worthy enough to express what they need, and then they feel guilty.
Robert Maldonado 19:30
The physical consequences can include high blood pressure, chronic stress, heart problems. We know anger can actually damage the heart tissue, there’s actual research on this. Very powerful emotions that you want to deal with in a conscious way. There are good ways to deal with them. Insomnia, impulse control problem, self destructive behaviors. Of course, we're all guilty of that to some extent. It could be just eating bad food, drinking, of course, or driving recklessly.
Debra Maldonado 20:17
Even not taking care of your body, not working out, avoiding yourself. Overworking could be a sign of anger. You keep yourself busy, so you can't be in your body, trying to get out of your body through intellectual stimulation, escape. Anger is not an unnecessary emotion. But if we don't know how to work with it, it can be very destructive. How do we approach it? How do we look at anger to make it a friend?
Robert Maldonado 20:54
The approach is that we first have to get the mindset of what is it that we're working with. If we approach it with it’s something bad in me, then we're already crippling ourselves in our approach, because now all we can do is try to fix this, try to get rid of this, try to patch it up somehow.
Debra Maldonado 21:23
In the 80s, they had this encounter groups where people were pounding pillows and primal screaming. They thought they were releasing the anger. But in effect, what they were doing is actually rewiring and hardwiring the brain to feel the anger even more instead of actually making it successful. They stopped doing those things, as you know, unless you're in some old group that hadn't got the memo on that. We think that if we just yell a lot, and express it, and could tell people off, that’s going to get rid of it. But it actually is making us more a prison to it. Using it as a tool of destruction than actually a tool of wisdom.
Robert Maldonado 22:09
Here you see the misunderstanding that often arises when people take techniques from psychoanalysis or other psychologies and use them in isolation. Because catharsis is part of psychoanalysis. It was considered a good way to deal with some of these emotions. But when you take it in isolation, you're not doing the deeper work of psychoanalysis, you're just doing what you're describing.
Debra Maldonado 22:37
You work on the ego level. And psychoanalysis works on the unconscious.
Robert Maldonado 22:41
Pounding pillows and expressing anger would simply reinforce that behavior. Because it feels good, self reinforcing in a sense.
Debra Maldonado 22:53
There's something in the process, if you're doing individuation work, we're going to talk about that feeling of being able to be present with it. It is good, but you want to approach it in the right way.
Robert Maldonado 23:05
The approach is that there's nothing wrong here. We’re simply working with our mind. Part of our mind is having this thing we call emotions. One of the primary emotions is anger, it's been there, it's served us. It's a tool that we can use. But we don't necessarily have to repress it and to label it as bad. Once we get that right frame of mind, we can proceed. Here's a model you can use in working with emotions. Because most of us are taught to think that the emotion we're having somehow is identified with us, and we are identifying with it. The I which is a temporary false sense of self is the one that is caught up in the anger. In essence, it is the one that is defending itself, the ego, the I but it's a false sense of I. When we're caught up in that self, that false sense of self and the ego, it appears that I should be angry because somebody hurt me, somebody did wrong to me. But the way we want to approach it here is to step back a little bit and to ask “Who is the one that is observing that experience of anger?” That observer is the witness. The pure awareness in us. When we approached it that way, we can work with any emotion, including anger, without getting caught up in it.
Debra Maldonado 25:11
It really helped me when you described it. In eastern spirituality they say you see the ego as an object in the world interacting with other objects. Instead of you’re the object, you're watching this character, this object, have anger. It helps have a different perspective on that relationship we have to ourselves. This is an object, this is a persona, it's not as real as I think it is. It's a construct that's functioning in the world, but it's not really who I am. Then you stop being so defensive around it, because it's not you that you're defending, it's just a hologram that you're defending, or the projection of this little part of ourselves into the world. I like that idea of seeing it as the ego is an object that we're watching, superior awareness. This identity, this object is having this experience, then you can see it from a different perspective versus I am angry. This persona, this ego's experiencing anger, let's explore that.
Robert Maldonado 26:29
The theory is pretty simple. The practice is very difficult because we're so conditioned to take things personally. What is anger? It's that we took it personally and said “How dare they? I gotta get back at them.” There's nothing wrong with that. But when we don't recognize what it is, we think that's an actual true account of what's going on. We're caught up in the emotion. But the real understanding is that it's our mind’s interpretation of an event. That's why something that makes me angry will not make you angry, because it's not an absolute. It's more of my mind's interpretation of a situation, and what I made out of it, and that's what we're dealing with, subjective interpretation of our conditioned mind.
Debra Maldonado 27:34
Someone could, for example, get angry because their mother is criticizing them a little bit. Why aren't you doing this? Why aren't you doing that? The daughter or the son is angry, “Mom, get off my case.” But a lot of times, I asked them, maybe she's doing that because she loves you and wants you to get the things she wanted. It’s just the way she communicates that, it's maybe not how you want to see it, and you're perceiving it as your own judgment of you letting yourself down. She's really triggering in you your own frustration with your own self criticism. When we start to see that maybe I should be gentler to myself. Then what happens is usually, they have a different relationship with them. Also they are like “She really cares. Mom really cares about me, she's involved.” I always tell them, imagine if your mother didn't care if you were gonna be successful or not, didn't care if you got married. It comes from that place. The only thing that anyone can make up about you or put on you is something you already believe yourself. They can't pour ideas into your head, it's already in there. They're just reflecting back like a mirror. When we understand that, we stop being angry out there, and know that the real work isn't to get back at those people. Of course, you have to keep boundaries with people in the world, but you also have to go within and say “What is this arising in me? What is really going on here?”
Robert Maldonado 29:10
So notice this, we're not neglecting the emotion. We're not pushing it away. We're not labeling it as good and bad. We're simply saying “I want to observe this. I want to see it. I want to become conscious of it.” Then we're approaching it with a friendly, open attitude, almost as saying “This is an opportunity for me to work with deeper issues of anger here.” Instead of thinking “Oh my God, terrible, working with these terrible emotions.” We're already on the wrong track there. We have to approach it as an opportunity. This is going to enlighten me and give me more freedom in the process.
Debra Maldonado 30:03
If you think about anger as power, we're feeling it. Like a dog that's put in the corner, it growls because it feels stuck. It's like unexpressed passion, it doesn't have that freedom. If you approach anger as “I'm reclaiming my power” that's a way different approach than “I got to get rid of the anger because it's negative.” There's power in here. I would say there's a lot of energy arising in me right now. It's a lot of energy. What can I do with it that's creative. You're reclaiming it and allowing yourself to use because we're all energy. It's like using that force of emotion to create, to inspire to break through our laziness and get things done. Or do the things that we've always promised ourselves. A lot of the anger is really toward ourselves. Why aren't we doing the things in life that we wanted to do, or having the things we want. That anger is there. Instead of making the world be the problem, we can start going in and saying the solution is inside. Anger can be a really powerful way to reclaim your power.
Robert Maldonado 31:21
Like we said in the previous podcast, what drives the psyche? The fuel is emotion. Emotion is what motivates us, what inspires us, what prompts us to do our work.
Debra Maldonado 31:41
I remember when I was low, wondering if I was going to make it as my own, starting out, I started getting not anger, but it was like a passion arose. This force said “I don't care. I'm gonna do this.” That’s tied to anger. That force to grow, that force to have passion. When we let go of what we think is bad, we’re going to have a flat, uneventful life, a meaningless life. We need that passion to reclaim it. Put it for good versus evil. Very powerful. Look at the movie Star Wars, Luke and Yoda. He says you have to learn to work with your anger. His father, Darth Vader — sorry, if you didn't see the movie — gave into the anger and went to the dark side. It’s about how we balance it in the wisdom and channel it for good.
Robert Maldonado 32:58
As you practice, you're going to fail, but be okay with that.
Debra Maldonado 33:05
Don’t judge yourself when you're angry or having outbursts.
Robert Maldonado 33:08
These are difficult things to work with. But gaining a little bit of ground will give you great benefits because you're reclaiming the power in your mind. You're using it to direct now your life in a creative way instead of letting those conditioned emotions drive you and compel you to act in certain ways.
Debra Maldonado 33:40
If you think about the waves of an ocean, you try to swim out to the ocean, the waves are constantly crashing down on you and pulling you under. What we're doing here is we're not getting rid of the waves. Think of those waves as different types of emotions. We're riding and surfing it, using the force not to knock us down but to take us where we want to go. Next week we're going to continue our lovely series on emotions and talk about my favorite topic, which is love. Love and hate, the two sides of the coin, how love can make you glorious or break your heart. Should be a great episode. We'll see you next week. Have a wonderful day. Also please subscribe to our channel, there's a button here below that you can subscribe. On our channel, I also have a special gift for you, a meditation called “Honoring Your Anger”. There's a link below in the description, you can click on it. It's a great exercise, relates to what we talked about today.
Robert Maldonado 34:54
Thanks for watching. See you next time.
Debra Maldonado 33:57