Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Anger Is a Lump of Coal


I believe there are two kinds of anger we experience. There is the pebble anger and the coal anger. The pebble anger is just that-- annoying little rocks that turn up in your day. Your husband didn't clean last night's dishes. Your child left her dirty clothes on the floor again. The traffic is ten times worse than usual and you are going to be late for work for the second day in a row. These are pebbles. They have no history attached to them. They are pure in the moment anger that is felt, is annoying and, in time, we get over it.

Then there is the lump of coal anger. This is anger that has hardened over time. It has settled deep in your gut and the molecules of it have changed and become more complex over time. This anger goes WAY back and it is much heavier than a pebble. You feel it with you all throughout your day. The other day a girlfriend told me she was having dreams about her rage. This is a perfect example of the weight of anger becoming so heavy and full, it begins to manifest in other areas of our lives. This anger that has become so full it can no longer be ignored.

I believe that, although coal has its good purposes, we would all prefer a nice shiny diamond. Here is where my coal analogy gets a bit more complicated. That anger became heavy coal under the pressure of years and suppression. That anger was pushed into a deep recess of subconsciousness for life-saving reasons. We do not consciously choose what gets repressed and what doesn't! If your mind has suppressed anger, then it did so with the loving intention of saving you-- and perhaps the moments when this happened were precious life-saving moments. Over time that repressed pebble grew under the mounting pressure of day-to-day. Other pebbles and layers of living piled on top of the anger until it grew and grew. Once that anger solidifies into hard coal, there are only two options.

Option one is that the hard coal remains hard coal. This seems to be what most of us do because... well, it's the easier option! This anger coal is a great source of energy and we draw from it to clean, create, cuss people out when needed, and generally work ourselves into the ground. When we do this, the energy drawn from that coal is the best you will ever get from it. The coal anger will remain as a heavy lump in your spirit providing an eternal source of rage and heat. And, rest assured, that lump of coal will grow heavier over the years so that your rage will always have a source of energy from which to draw.

The second option is to provide pressure to that lump of coal and wait patiently for your diamond. When you honor that anger by examining it and feeling it, the anger begins to transform very slowly. Look deep into that lump of coal and when you think you know where it came from, look deeper. Go deeper and deeper and deeper into that anger until you go to its very center, its very origin. This process can take moments or days or months. Be patient. This may mean that for a significant period you are a very angry person. That's ok. Keep going deeper. For some people, you may trace that anger all the way to its very core and find the father that abandoned you when you were only 4. Keep going and you may find in the center is the mother whose addiction destroyed your family.

When you get to the core of your lump of coal, you will know. It will sear through you and what you believed to be anger, you will find is really immense grief or shame. Whatever is there in the center of that giant lump of anger, hold it. Let the pain of it come, the pressure of it mount. This will not kill you. There is no scientific evidence to show that anyone ever died from feelings, though my clients argue this point with me often. You will grieve. You will cry. You will know yourself at a deeper level and then an amazing thing happens. One morning you will wake up and feel lighter. You will sense something missing from your very core, a large weight lifted. You will reach down inside yourself for that heavy coal you have carried for years and find-- it is gone. There, in its place, hanging about your neck in a spot of prominence-- a new brilliant diamond, sparkling and glorious in the morning light.

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