For the past several weeks, I've been working through the Daily Om class on Overcoming Self-Sabotage. This week, I completed Lesson 9: The Destruction of Hidden Rage....or I would like to say I have. Several of these short lessons (a reading and a meditation of approx. 9 minutes) have resonated with me and aided me in quieting some of my emotional cycles surrounding self-esteem and self-compassion, two things I often lack. I even confronted myself as a child and found the root of some pretty toxic thought patterns. But today, the author asked me to confront my rage. So far, I have cleaned the dining room, made breakfast, helped William in the kitchen, organized the assortment of chips from Costco, and cleaned my desk. While these are all noble tasks, they are clear evidence of my desire to avoid admitting it: I have suppressed my anger.
The author alludes to our Shadow Self, which contains all the painful feelings and suppressed parts of ourselves, and how this Shadow arises in sudden and damaging ways when unmanaged, "like a beach ball we've been trying to keep submerged underwater where no one will see it." We get tired trying to hold it under, and eventually, it pops up out of the water and smacks us in the face. Yeah, I feel that.
She discusses how easy it is to justify the behaviors we use to mask or to escape from our anger by comparing ourselves to others and noting that "at least we aren't as bad as them!" (ouch) We eat, we drink, we shop, binge-watch, we zone out, we deny, we blame. (more ouch) Is our rage really worth the cost we pay to keep it hidden? Does the behavior we exhibit trying to suppress our rage really preserve our relationships? Are we doing as much "good" as we think by burying these emotions? (even more ouch)
The discussion on fear earlier was easier to engage, because fear is an easier emotion for others to accept in us. When we admit we are afraid, others appreciate the moment of vulnerability, offer us encouragement and kindness, and congratulate us when we have faced our fear and accomplished our goal. When we admit we are angry, we are often met with judgment, tone-policing, defensiveness, and even combativeness. Fear brings us together. Anger further isolates us and tears us apart.
My task is to create a list of the people I am mad at. Then, I must write them each a letter to tell them why and burn them all to set my anger free. This actually sounds like a GREAT idea. It will help me to be a more patient, loving, and calm person, free from the chains that weigh me down. So, I admit I have suppressed my anger. I admit that I practice harmful avoidance techniques. I admit that I have important work to do, and I write these words as my first step in this healing process. I will unearth and let go of my hidden rage.