The shadow side of anger

Over the weekend, Yael, who is 5, pushed some things a little too far. I asked her to please stop. After she persisted & persisted, I let her know it was not OK in a voice slightly louder than my normal voice, and explained why.

And…she fell apart.

She started sobbing and sobbing and sobbing uncontrollably. She ran up to her room, hid under covers, and when I came in to try and talk to her, she cried, “You don’t love me! You don’t want me as your daughter!”

After lots of loving attention and time, she eventually calmed down, and we went about the rest of our day together, which was wonderful. 

In the evening, before bed, I told her there was something important that I wanted to talk to her about. I explained to her that it’s 100% possible to love someone very, very much AND at the same time be upset with that person for something they’ve done. I also explained that anger and love can exist together as well, and that when someone has done something that is not OK with you, it’s OK to express anger.

Did she totally get it? Probably not. I think she understood it mostly though.

I spoke to Yael about this not so much because I wanted to let her know that I love her even when I’m setting a boundary, though of course that was a small piece of it. The bigger reason is that I want her to know that it is OK to get angry sometimes. That getting angry doesn’t have to be (& shouldn’t be) mean or hateful. That getting angry doesn’t exist as an opposite of love. And that it’s important to express when someone has crossed a line.

Even though most adults know better, so many of us have been programmed to fear anger – our own anger and the anger of others. 

Because we think anger equates with not being loved..

Or not being approved of…

Or not being respected…

Or being abandoned  alone.

Or worse, we equate anger with violence & getting physically hurt.

These are all expressions of anger when it has been put into Shadow….when it has been repressed…when it hasn’t been embraced as a natural and normal energy inside of us that can be used to set boundaries.

I cannot tell you the number of clients and students I have worked with who had been putting their natural and normal expression of anger into Shadow. When you do this, you end up either with road rage or with anger issues…but usually more likely, as a doormat for others or a doormat to yourself:

You let others walk all over you, or

You don’t uphold boundaries that are in your highest good, or

You break promises to yourself and your highest good.

One of the most important and vital pieces of work we can do as practitioners is to support our clients to own and express their anger (& their boundaries!) in the best of ways. To support our clients to bring their own anger out of the Shadows and into the light so that they can use the incredible fire energy of Elevated Anger to bring more life force and passion into their lives and work.

When we can guide a client in this way….everything changes for them.

We do this sacred, courageous work with Shadow in Sacred Depths Coach Training and in Into the Depths Facilitator & Ritual Training. First, you are held in powerful and loving space to confront your own Shadows, because you need to do it for yourself before you can support others! Then, I teach and train you step by step how to apply this life-changing work to your clients and groups. 

Get in touch if you’d like to learn more!

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