The Secret to Using Anger to Heal From Past Hurt and Move On With Life
You ever been so mad that you could just… SPIT? (my Grandmama used to say that.) I’m talking about so mad that you could break something or somebody?
Can I tell you something that’ll turn down the heat and take away some of the shame about your anger? You are completely validated in your anger! You are allowed to be pissed the fuck off! As a matter of fact, anger is a natural emotion, a natural response when we perceive threat, harm, or danger, and we’ve all been trained to believe that we’re wrong as the day is long for being angry and expressing it. People tell us “don’t be mad”, “calm down”, “it ain’t that deep” “that’s nothing to be upset about”, or as a child being asked, “who do you have the nerve to be mad at?”.
Because I was made to feel like my anger was unacceptable, disrespectful, and didn’t have a place as a child, I now either fly off the handle or shut down when I’m angry (yeah, there’s no happy medium with me yet, but I’m REALLY working on it so don’t judge me… judge ya mama) and now I have the responsibility to learn how to accept my anger as it is and express it in a way that’s not harmful to myself and damaging to my relationships. That’s all on me. I tell my 6-year-old daughter all the time that she’s allowed to be angry and that being mad is ok. And now I’m saying it to you, friend, and it’s true.
Anger is most often viewed as a negative emotion, one that we’re told we should strive to avoid or control. There’s a stigma that comes with being angry in our society. We get called a bitch, bossy, a “Nasty Girl” or “an angry black woman” when we express our anger about something we don’t like, is a threat to our wellbeing, or we feel wronged by. None of which is ok. But anger can also be a powerful tool for healing past hurt. When we experience hurt, whether it's from a past trauma, a recent disappointment, or a betrayal by someone we trusted, we feel a range of emotions, including sadness, fear, and anger. Anger, in particular, can be a powerful force that propels us toward healing and growth. I’ll give you an example…
I recently started working with a previous coaching client again, and in our first session, she identified some anger and trust issues that are rooted in her relationship with her parents. Now, mind you, this wonderful soul is deeply compassionate, smart as a whip, well-educated, and successful in her career. But what tipped me off was that she used phrases such as, “I wouldn’t care if he (her dad) died” and “I don’t like confrontation, and I’m pretty passive until my back is against the wall”. I know, those are some pretty strong words, but how telling it is about her true feelings?
As we went deeper, we found that underneath her anger is really fear and low self-worth stemming from the shame about her family’s history with mental health issues. All of this was uncovered in 3 sessions, by the way. 😉
It’s important to note here that, one, we can’t stop at anger if we are to get to the real root of our issues. Two, we have a choice in how we respond or react emotionally and that anger is not a one-size-fits-all solution to healing and making changes in your life. Depending on the situation, other emotions may be more appropriate or effective for healing past hurt. The beauty in all of this is that you get to assign your own meaning to what you experience and decide how you want to feel about what you’ve experienced and how you allow that to inform your decisions for moving forward in life.
For example, when we’re grieving the loss of a loved one, we may need to allow ourselves to feel sadness and process our emotions in a way that allows us to honor our loved one's memory. Similarly, when we are feeling anxious or afraid, we may need to focus on mindfulness and relaxation techniques to calm our nerves and ease our minds. All I’m saying is that anger isn’t your only choice in how to feel. But, then again, if anger is what you truly feel then stand justified in that and use it for your good instead of perpetuating more hurt and pain.
That said, here are some strategies for using anger to heal past hurt:
Acknowledge your anger: The first step in using anger to heal past hurt is to acknowledge and accept your anger. Oftentimes, we may try to push our anger away, either because we feel ashamed or because we are afraid of its intensity. But denying or suppressing our anger can actually make it more difficult to heal. Instead, try to be honest with yourself about your feelings. Instead of criticizing yourself, simply tell yourself, "I’m angry, damn it," and allow yourself to feel that emotion momentarily without judgment.
Identify the source of your anger: Once you’ve acknowledged your anger, try to identify the source of that anger. Is it directed toward a specific person, situation, or event? Or is it a more general feeling of frustration or disappointment? Understanding the source of your anger can help you to focus your energy on healing and to develop a plan of action for moving forward.
Express your anger in a healthy way: Anger can be a powerful force, but it can also be destructive if it’s not expressed in a healthy way. Avoid lashing out at other people or engaging in self-destructive behaviors. Instead, find healthy ways to express your anger, such as through journaling, talking to a trusted friend or therapist, or engaging in physical activity. Exercise can be particularly effective at releasing pent-up anger and reducing stress. Word on the street is that Rage Rooms are great for expressing anger and blowing off steam.
Use your anger as motivation: Anger can be a powerful motivator to affect change. Use your anger to fuel your determination to heal and to create positive change in your life. For example, if your anger is directed towards a specific person who has hurt you, use that anger to motivate you to set boundaries or to seek out support from trusted sources. Or, if your anger is more general, use it as a catalyst for personal growth and self-improvement. See what happened with the Civil Rights, the Black Lives Matter, and the Me Too movements? Anger used productively gets results!
Practice forgiveness: I know that this one is a tough one for some people so just do your best with it. Forgiveness is often seen as a key component of healing past hurt, and it can be hard to extend it when you’re angry and still wounded. But look at it this way, forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning or excusing hurtful behavior towards you. Instead, it is about letting go of the anger and resentment that we may be holding on to WHEN YOU’RE READY. Forgiveness can be a difficult process, and it takes time and effort to do it. But it’s an important step in healing and moving forward. To start the process of forgiveness try understanding and seeing the person who hurt you as another flawed human being, a person, apart from who they represent in your life.
Manage your energy: As with any emotion, there’s a body & energy connection with it. When we experience anger our sympathetic nervous system located in the spinal cord becomes activated in response to danger or stress. Your body then becomes activated so that it’s prepared to think and act quickly. Guess what else is located along your spinal cord. Your central energy centers; your main chakra system. When your nervous system becomes activated, it’s a strong indication that your energy has been unbalanced for some time. Notice what your body is doing and not doing when you’re mad? Notice the vibration of your energy and what’s going on around you in your daily life that might be a reflection of low-vibe energy coursing through you. You get what you give off. Then, use tools like reiki energy healing, breathwork, or Emotional Freedom Tapping to self-regulate and calm yourself.
Get some help: Healing from past hurt is a complex process because it’s layered, and it’s not always something that can be done on our own. If you’re struggling with anger, or if your anger is interfering with your ability to heal, move forward, and truly enjoy life, consider seeking qualified, professional help. A coach (hey girl, hey! 👋🏽), therapist, or counselor can teach you some tools and strategies for managing your emotions and developing a plan for healing.
So if you’re a woman of color, who’s ready to take your anger, alchemize it, and use it to break down walls, live life more fully and happily, and you’re ready to stand in your greatness, but you’re not sure where to start with your healing, then I’m inviting you to have a conversation with me on a free Clarity and Alignment Call to talk through what you want for yourself and how private coaching with me can support you with getting it. Check out the deets HERE.
Not quite ready for coaching just yet, then book an Intuitive Reading for guidance and direction from your Divine Spirit Team HERE. Or, check out Episode 53 of my podcast, Soul Healing Conversations, for some extra content about managing your anger.