“Anger does not disappear as we evolve and in fact may become even more fiery, but it burns more and more cleanly, serving the well-being of all involved.” Robert Augustus Masters
Having recently come out of an abusive relationship, I am, understandably, paying close attention to my boundaries.
Recognising that I not only over-rode some subtle inner signals that things weren’t “right”, but also tolerated and made allowances for my partner’s increasingly cruel and aggressive behaviour (including anger at my boundary setting), I’m now very much on guard as to when I feel anything or anyone violating my integrity and well-being.
And I regard this as one of the key lessons my ex came to teach me. (Thank you!)
So it’s no surprise, then, that life has immediately begun to hand me one opportunity after the other to put my boundary-holding skills into practice.
Like a learner on a bicycle, I’m not yet speeding along with every confidence. I’ve felt fear of pissing people off or hurting their feelings, and noticed the insistent voice in my head that wants me to “be nice” to people, even if I find their actions or words offensive or intrusive.
Damm this good girl conditioning !!
I’ve also had one detractor tell me that having boundaries and expressing anger is incompatible with unconditional love.
Whoa! Now that’s a dangerous misinterpretation of new-age philosophy if ever I heard one. What a great way to shut up, shame and control a sincere spiritual aspirant: lay siege to their conscience with the distorted new-speak that reframes their healthy self-love as moral inadequacy.
As my Facebook friend, Louisa Love, states:
“True love is a firm conscious boundary to unconscious energy, and if necessary may be expressed as righteous anger.
If for instance someone is harming your child you’ll step in and use force if needs be to protect your child.
When we are without boundaries in so called new age “unconditional love”, we coerce with the unconscious dark energy by allowing it to harm others or ourselves.
We MUST learn to say no even if it upsets others or even if we are rejected or judged for it.
True deep, unconditional, embodied love is to stand firmly in our truth and our boundaries. Love equals boundaries”
This is what, I believe, is meant by the truism that states that we must first have a very solid, secure sense of our self (what, in Kundalini Yoga we call being “self-fulfilled” and “self-illumined”), before we can ever hope to truly merge with another in sacred relationship.
Otherwise, all we are doing is enmeshing in co-dependency.
So, then, to anger, which, is a healthy emotional response to the impingement upon our boundaries.
But also an emotion towards which many of us have been negatively conditioned (we fear it and/or judge it), most of us mix up with other states (such as aggression, hostility and violence) and few of us have learned to feel purely and express cleanly.
Yet, as relational expert Robert Augustus Masters, explains, a mature and mindful relationship with anger can evoke deeper intimacy, integrity, self-awareness and aliveness.
He calls this "heart-anger”.
“Heart-anger has a broad enough sense of human suffering to embrace a radically inclusive morality; it possesses sufficient faith in Life to persist in its fiery caring; and it has the guts to carry all this out.”
Let me give you an example.
If you havn’t heard of her, Marianne Williamson is known for her teachings on A Course in Miracles, as well as her many best-selling books.
At the end of her soul-stirring talk, she opened the floor to questions and, predictably, hands flew up all around St James’s church.
It was such a gift to witness Marianne up close and personal, as she interacted with each individual and lovingly, yet super efficiently, guided them to clarity and shared her spiritual wisdom.
The time flew, so with the clock ticking and Marianne aware of the number of hands still in the air, she made a very specific request for the last few questioners to keep things brief and on point.
A lady was offered the microphone, stood and began to speak. At length and without making any obvious point. The entire audience began to shuffle impatiently. Marianne interrupted and did her best to elicit and answer what was arising for this woman. But then she continued talking as if she had not heard Marianne at all, this time going into even more story.
In a bold display of heart-anger, Marianne then cut her short, telling her she was self-indulgently taking up valuable time and space from others waiting to ask their question, and inviting her to take a look at this pattern in herself.
The entire church visibly relaxed and there was almost an audible intake of breath at this impressive display of fierce compassion.
“Wow!” I thought. “She dared to do that.” We were all hoping for it, but she actually dared. And I was filled with admiration.
Sometimes we need to feel our fire. Sometimes we need to simply say no. And when cleanly expressed, this is love.
To return to Robert Augustus Masters: “Anger can be love” and “Anger and love can exist at the same time in a mature relationship!”
As I ruminated on all of this in the early hours of this morning, it suddenly dawned on me (hee hee), that it was my anger that saved me from further abuse in my last relationship.
After months of conflict, taunting and emotional manipulation, I reached a crunch point, when, heading home from the very same Marianne Williamson talk with my ex, I offered to forgive and forget everything that had gone before, if we could begin anew in that moment with a fresh commitment.
When he could not offer that commitment, my “NO!” rose up and I knew in that moment that it was over and out for me – with no going back.
In the ensuing days, I experienced my rage and my grief, some of which I vented in wild fashion, both privately and towards my ex.
And although this was most definitely 50 shades of anger, from reactive to mindful, shaming to vulnerable, I cannot tell you what a relief and empowerment it was to own this raw emotion fully and allow it to course through me.
In some sense, it felt as if the floodgates of female anger towards the masculine for all his violence and betrayals had been let loose and I became the howling embodiment of centuries of boundaries crossed and trust broken.
It wasn’t always conscious. It was messy and raw. And yet in my full surrender - first to the anger and then all that lay beneath, I also had an awareness of my Priestess self doing this for her sisters.
I’ve clearly got a way to go to deepen my relationship with anger. And I’ve still got my “L” plates on as I practice the radical self-love of boundaries.
But I’m so darned grateful to my anger for ejecting me from further harm. And so enjoying the growth-path it’s taking me on.
My dear friend and colleague, Kimaya Crolla-Younger, is offering her powerful workshop - Making Friends with Anger - on Sunday, February 25th, 2018. I highly recommend it to anyone wishing to deepen their own conscious relationship with anger and find the gifts it has to offer them.