Anger and the Inner Child

Anger is a very natural part of the healing process. Looking from the outside, what could be healthier than getting angry at the unbearable hurts we suffered as children? But often anger feels huge, outsized, or monstrous. My therapist explained to me that this is child-logic. The child who cannot express her normal anger starts to feel that anger must be extremely powerful. Anger that’s been stuffed down for years can feel volcanic.

It’s probably different for some people, but it took my inner child a long time before she felt safe enough to get angry. And then the anger seemed enormous and endless. I wanted to smash and break “everything in the whole wide world,” my inner child said.

How to deal with such anger? First, it’s important to recognize that your anger is really not as dangerous as it feels. You can find ways to express it that don’t hurt anyone. You can hit a sofa with an old tennis racket. I like to lift up a fat pillow and whack it on the floor. You can yell (into a pillow if you’re worried about sound). You can make drawings, you can write repetitive strings of anger-words.

This is how it felt one day: “In the evening I sit with my inner child. Rage, undifferentiated rage. I need this. I want to break things and throw things. Then quiet and I want comfort. Then more rage. I make Xeroxed copies of photographs of my father and mother. I paste them into my sketchbook and draw zigzags of purple and orange and yellow and black. Over my mother’s picture I write whiner, weakling. I mark all over the photos of my father and write, I hate you! Smug face molester. This man is not to be trusted. Smash it, break it!”

Second, some of the anger may spill over onto people who don’t deserve it. Therapists are great for that, as I slowly learned. It was extremely scary to get mad at my therapist, but she knew better than to take it personally. She knew I needed practice at being angry and having it be safe. So I ranted, “Why did you have to be late? It feels like you don’t care! It hurts my feelings!” Other people close to you may catch some of it, too, but they can be very understanding if you tell them it’s your old anger, not really about them.

My therapist said that expressing my anger would make me feel stronger. It didn’t feel that way at first, but over time, it was true. It makes me feel more anchored in myself.

This entry is also a new addition to my booklet "Caring for the Child Within--A Manual for Grownups."

technorati tags: , , , , ,

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your willingness and ability to share such an intensely personal journey. You will help so many!

Anonymous said...

As I read your words it makes the inner child inside of me want a big hug so "she" can feel safe and secure. I try and think about my childhood and there is very little I remember. I try really hard to remember but its like I was born in my 20s. There maybe 1 or two 20-30 minute memories that have "flashed" back to me over the years. I am now 45 with very few good memories in life. I am waiting for the time I can become comfortable enough to get angry I really think that would help but I dont remember anything to be angry for but I do know my childhood was abusive. I guess maybe its better that I do not remember. The pain I feel lingers and seems to never let go. But to know me or look at me you could never tell that anything bothers me. But lately it has become harder to control this depression since many critical life events have occurred. Such as the death of my mother & son. Then a relationship where I was almost burned to death where my dog and my house turned to ash. Just hard to hold it together anymore. I guess I wasnt as strong as I thought.

Jane Rowan said...

Anon, I know what you mean about needing safety before you can get angry. My therapist had to urge me again and again and tell me it was OK.
It might be better for a bit not to remember, but I think the depression and lack of a solid foundation will haunt anyone with an abusive childhood, until they find the inner and outer resources to face up to it.
I wish you the best, J

Anonymous said...

If u want to meet light, love. If u want to emit light, love
Learn to flow like river, that's how to heal your anger
www.bellofpeace||gede prama.org  

Anonymous said...

If u want to meet light, love. If u want to emit light, love
Learn to flow like river, that's how to heal your anger
www.bellofpeace||gede prama.org  

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering is anger ok? I'm 40....and love means nothing to me until recently... and that was from a release of sadness and anger. I hurt a special person with that anger. They don't understand where it came from. How do I live with that?

Jane Rowan said...

I'm glad that love means something to you now, and you want to be conscious of how your actions affect others.

Anger is OK in itself, but when you vent that anger on someone else, of course it can hurt. It's important to ask yourself where the anger is coming from--is it some old stuff, old pain and fear? If so, the person you love does not deserve to be the target of that anger.

A good apology is a wonderful thing. If you can truly say, "I am sorry, sorry I hurt you, and I do not intend to do that again. It was some old feelings, not really to do with you. Can you forgive me?" and if you mean it, this might help.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Spiritual connection is root of all healing,,

If u find no heaven on earth, look deeper into your heart

There is no inner fire which is more dangerous than anger, there is no inner jewel which is more beautiful than patience.

www.bellofpeace gede prama org