Have you ever felt angry but held back from expressing it? Do you walk on eggshells around angry people? Are you proud of the fact that you never allow yourself to get angry?
In this episode we talk about Anger and why this emotion gets a bad wrap in social and religious circles. Robert explains the three levels of emotions – biological, psychological-social and spiritual aspects. We explore:
- Why having a “pleasing personality” can lead to suppression of anger
- How going along to get along can really hurt you in the long run
- How can we work with anger in a useful way instead of out-dated and proven ineffective techniques such as pounding pillows and screaming at walls
- Anger as “unexpressed passion” and how to harness the power of anger in a creative way
- Why the #metoo movement needs to be more self-aware of their own anger and make it constructive rather than destructive
Episode Exercise: Robert explains how to work with Anger using the meta-consciousness and by examining the moments the emotion.
Debra Maldonado 00:03
Welcome to Creative Mind Living, a podcast for personal growth based on the works of Carl Jung neuroscience and Eastern philosophies. We’re your hosts Debra Berndt Maldonado and Dr. Rob Maldonado, founders of Creative Mind Coaching. Hello, Rob, how are you today? Are you feeling happy or angry?
Robert Maldonado 00:25
Well, let’s talk about that. Because it’s an important topic, anger.
Debra Maldonado 00:30
So this episode is about honoring your anger. And what we do with emotions. We’re doing a whole series on emotion. So this is the very first one.
Robert Maldonado 00:41
Yeah. And what the main reason we’re doing it is because when we look out there to see what’s available for people, we see very little in the stuff that’s out there. We don’t really agree with it. I mean, I know it’s an opinion, but we don’t don’t agree with what they’re saying about emotions.
Debra Maldonado 01:03
And there’s so much research that is not available to the public about emotions and how we store them and how we, our brain processes them. And so it’s just really amazing that we’re only getting a sliver. So we’re going to give you some good, good insights and information in the next few weeks. But today, honoring your anger. I wanted to start off by saying, you know, anger lately, politically, and with the me to movement, there’s a lot of anger and there’s actually a book that just came out called burn it down. Women writing about their anger, and I’m having read the book, but it’s interesting how this is a topic coming up for women, that there’s this kind of a need to express the rage of inequality or mistreatment of women and and i think In a way, it’s really good that people are speaking up. And maybe we needed to get angry to move us forward. But if we stay in that angry state, it’s not going to be productive. And we’re going to talk about that today. But what is your take on it? I do think there is a kind of righteous anger that motivates you to take action. Because if we never feel that, often we we just kind of accept the status quo. And so there is that element to it. But like you say, we don’t want to use it to effect change, because it’s going to affect the kind of things we create from, from that moving on, into the next phase of our social evolution. It could be that idea that all men are bad and all men are pigs or whatever that is, and I know that’s not really the the movement, but when you have a big message, and a big social movement, it gets misinterpreted a lot. And there’s a small factions of the group, as you know, in any type of movement that kind of take it to an extreme. And so we have to really be careful that the anger is great to motivate us to change, but it’s not the vehicle for change. It’s not the the the mechanism for change. It’s a mechanism for motivating, and we have to remember that. So let’s go into anger. What is anger? Rob? What is a emotions in general? Like, there? There are three levels to them.
Robert Maldonado 03:32
Yeah, we’ve been really working on this, this idea of emotions recently. And there there are three distinct levels that need to be addressed or need to be understood in order to, to really give a comprehensive view of an emotion. So first, there’s the biological element. we’re wired for emotion. And if we look at our brains, we understand there’s a whole operating system and a whole technology in the brain designed to deal with emotions is called the limbic system. Then the second level is the psychosocial level, which means how do we deal with it at personal at a personal level, like with relations? How did our family deal with emotions? How did they deal with anger? What did we learn from that? And then how do we go out into the world with those assumptions that our family kind of instilled in us and make it go up, but how does that affect our work or career? Our personal and professional relationships? Yeah. And then the third level, of course, is the spiritual level, which, you know, if you think about some of the Eastern philosophy and even the western religions, they’ll talk about managing the emotions some way and harnessing them. And directing them towards higher purposes, higher wisdom. These higher powers, whatever you want to call them, but there’s certainly some rich knowledge to be gained from looking at the spiritual component. But having said all that, we’re going to focus on the psychosocial element so that we can give you some useful ways of approaching your own anger and dealing with it.
Debra Maldonado 05:31
And that psychosocial element is based on Jungian psychology. And the idea of the persona and the shadow. And what I noticed doing this work for over a decade and working with thousands of women, we as women, well, I think everyone does has a lot of repressed anger, a lot of anger they’re not aware of, and that’s because we have a persona that wants to be nice that wants to be pleasing. Then in Jungian psychology, the things that don’t fit into your persona get repressed. So if it doesn’t feel a fit into your personality to be angry person, your kind, spiritual caring woman, you’re going to repress your anger and not and your ego is not going to allow you to express it. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. That’s the key.
Robert Maldonado 06:24
Yeah, and there are certainly gender differences. You know, men were expected to go into the military or, or some of us go into the military,
Debra Maldonado 06:37
even hunting and it’s that kind of an aggression toward hunting and battle.
Robert Maldonado 06:43
Yeah. And it’s kind of more acceptable to be a little aggressive, or at least affirming in your tone and in your way of being, whereas women I think, often are pigeon holed into being nice and the piece carries and, you know, kind of the smoothing out the the emotional ruffles in the family. Not always, of course. I mean, there’s there’s always exceptions to the those kind of rules.
Debra Maldonado 07:18
And also then you see, like the changes you were talking about me to movement coming into play just women’s empowerment women in the workforce, women entrepreneurs, women leaders. Now you have this moving target of, you know, what is proper emotional expression. And in particular, how do we use that power of anger, like you were saying it, it motivates us, but we don’t want it to be our determining way of seeing the world and also a tool to make change. So being a bully, if I a lot of people will who have a pleasing personality will say, Well, okay, I’m going to change, I’m going to be a bully. Now I’m going to go and I’m going to be mean, and I’m going to stand up for myself and I’m going to be aggressive. And that kind of bullying boss that we always hear about when these women that they say they’re aggressive versus being assertive. And what happens is they’re just compensating for the opposite. So they’re not really integrating their personality. They’re just still acting out of that almost anger at needing to be pleasing, in a way so they’re angry at their own conditioning.
Yes. So let’s paint a basic scenario from the Jungian perspective. If you have a family in a society that tells you you got to be a nice lady, you got to be a nice girl. Good girl. Yeah. And men of course, we also get that message, but let’s focus on women’s conditioning, let’s say. That’s a powerful message to create a persona, as Jung would say, the mask the personality of a nice person.
Debra Maldonado 09:12
Which is reasonable.
Robert Maldonado 09:14
Absolutely. It makes sense that people are applauded for that.
Debra Maldonado 09:17
And people like nice people so you make friends.
Robert Maldonado 09:20
That’s right, the problem comes in with the shadow element. Now the shadow, the way it works in this scenario is that this person is going to experience anger, just like everyone else.
Debra Maldonado 09:36
And angry at other people and what they’re doing.
Robert Maldonado 09:38
And often rightly so, if when people were stepped their boundaries with you, your reaction is anger. It’s meant to motivate you to set the boundary correctly or to reset it to speak up.
Debra Maldonado 09:51
But a lot of women don’t speak up.
Robert Maldonado 09:55
Exactly, because now the persona and the and the individual believes they are the persona. And so now they have to live up to this nice persona, never gets angry or is not supposed to get angry. So they have to push the anger the emotional power of anger into the shadow.
Debra Maldonado 10:17
And the key is we’re pushing it away we’re not using the the power. So basically that’s why we feel powerless as a pleaser. Because we feel as though we don’t have power. And and that’s but it’s not because we don’t have it. It’s that we refuse to use it. Because it doesn’t fit to the persona.
Robert Maldonado 10:37
Yeah. And and by the shadow. All we mean is the unconscious, personal unconscious, meaning. We think we got rid of it.
Debra Maldonado 10:51
We’re not conscious of it. It’s not there.
Robert Maldonado 10:54
Yeah, we think if I’m not conscious of it, I’m not aware of it. He doesn’t exist anymore. But that’s a fatal mistake. The energy of anger does not go anywhere.
Debra Maldonado 11:07
So where does it go?
Robert Maldonado 11:09
It goes into the shadow.
Debra Maldonado 11:11
And then what happens to it?
Robert Maldonado 11:14
Well, it depends on the person, right? Let’s say let’s assume there is no understanding of the persona shadow. So the person believes they are the mask. They’re the good person, the persona, yeah. What happens is that that energy of the anger in the shadow builds up, builds up and it’s got to come out somehow. It’s, there’s a few scenarios. It’s either going to come out as passive aggression. Meaning the person is going to think they’re being nice, but in reality, they’re, you know, the screws to you like, yeah, they’re they’re stabbing the other person in the back.
Debra Maldonado 11:59
You kow how I see this with gossip. They won’t tell the person directly that they’re upset with them, but they’ll talk about them to someone else. And it’s a way for them to get their anger out.
Robert Maldonado 12:10
Yeah. And if you ask the individual, often they won’t even be aware of it. This is so unconscious. It’s an undercurrent that’s coming out. Other scenarios is that that energy will essentially be held in check all this time, but the more they hold it in the shadow, the more energy it gathers, and it will eventually sabotage the whole construction that the person is working on.
Debra Maldonado 12:46
So they’ll like have a blow up, or they’ll break up a relationship and rage and do you know, very upsetting things because they haven’t really it’s just kind of an tamed untamed. Or they run away.
Robert Maldonado 13:03
Yes, and you know, the most dramatic cases, you hear people that all of the sudden they snap, and they do something completely out of character, right? People say that’s so out of character because meaning this is a shadow, it’s not their persona, their persona was nice. And all of a sudden, you know, they they run off with their secretary or they run off with their boss or something happens that really kind of explodes in a way their life, blows it up.
Debra Maldonado 13:46
Well, you know, what I’ve noticed too, is there’s a lot of women that tell me that their mother was very pleasing to the world. They show up as the nice person out there. And then at home, they’re raging at their kids and they’re hiding. They’re raging at home. And then but everyone else, it’s fine. And we, they kind of the family suppresses the rages as a unit. So there’s that too.
Robert Maldonado 14:08
There was a, there was a story of an astronaut, a woman astronaut a few years back. And of course, an astronaut, you know, they have to have it together to get into those positions and be very straight laced and all that. So probably a persona very nice, very accomplished, dedicated in the shadow, of course, was all that rage and anger. And it turned out that she was arrested for attempting to kill her lover’s ex or something.
Debra Maldonado 14:47
Yeah. And they’re doing a movie on her as well.
Robert Maldonado 14:50
Yes. So there you see an example. I mean, that’s an extreme example, obviously, but it this kind of dynamic plays out in smaller ways, with people that are unconscious of their shadow.
Debra Maldonado 15:04
Like Alanis Morissette, you had to know that song is full of rage. There’s that other country song where I took headlights out of my car and keyed your truck. Like, because you cheated on me that kind of, we all have it inside of us. And almost sometimes we glorify that they did it wrong. And so we have a right to be angry. And anger can be very addictive. It could be really addictive and people get high from it in a way because it is a power. It’s like a power.
Robert Maldonado 15:34
Absolutely. Now there’s pretty good research also that shows that repressed anger damages your heart. It may cause certain kinds of cancers, certain kinds of chronic pain, diseases in your body, mind body because, again, it’s very powerful, very toxic kind of energy if you don’t learn to work with it.
Debra Maldonado 15:59
If you’re enjoying this conversation and do not want it to end it doesn’t have to, you can join us on our Facebook fan page at Creative Mind Method and continue the conversation, get tools, free visualizations, free downloads and announcements of live events and new courses that we’re hosting. So join us after the show at Creative Mind Method on Facebook. See you there. You know, I’ve heard that depression is suppressed anger as well. So if you’re finding this lack of energy, usually it’s that lack of passion and the kind of depressed or feeling that the down feelings is usually a sign that you need to work with anger.
Robert Maldonado 16:41
Debra Maldonado 16:42
But another way it shows up before we talk about how to work with it. I’m going to share a story really quick. That anger if you’re suppressing anger, a lot of times if it’s so deep with that you’re not even aware that you’re angry. It’ll show up in other people being angry at you. And so we always think they’re the bad ones they’re angry and I’m so pleasing. So I remember when I first started doing hypnotherapy, I was very pleased. I’m a pleaser persona. And I was trying to help people and I in this one client was so really loved me. And I loved that she loved me. And I was always very pleased that I was pleasing her. And then I received an email from her and she was really angry at me. And I was shaking. When I got the email, I read it and she was saying all these terrible things about me and accusing me of things I didn’t do. And I was so upset. And I remember coming home and it was when we first started dating. And you were saying, well, this is the shadow and you’ve told me the story of Medusa. And you say Medusa represents anger. She’s the woman with the snakes. And the way Perseus slayed her is that he couldn’t look at her directly. So we had to hold the shield up and see the reflection. And it’s that way with our own anger is that it’s almost so knowing for us and unexcited acceptable for us to be angry that the only way we can see it is on our projections of other people. So what I did was, instead of, you know, I went through all these different levels. First, I was feeling sad and hurt. And then I was angry that she accused me and it was all this stuff. And then I was trying to battle in my mind of how to defend. And you just said, just be with the feeling, just let it just be there. And it took me two days because it was really powerful. It’s like, wow. And then all of a sudden, I started to realize how much of my life I’ve spent trying to please others and that this is coming up for me because I want to defend myself. I want to prove that you’re a good person. And it’s like I’m spending all this energy and how much of my energy is always trying to prove to everyone how good a good person I am. And it was such a relief. I just was started to thank her and my mind and I felt incredible love for her and still I hadn’t talked to her or straightened it out. But it was this amazing shift and it was my first time working with a shadow element and what I want to say is that this is really a great way to work is that you have to face it without pushing it away without buying into it and without projecting it and that that person did me wrong. And really just allow yourself to feel like what is this? What am I defending? Like, why am I so angry? And a lot of times we’re angry because other people don’t think we’re good. We’re trying to defend our own persona. And when we let go of that and realize that their opinion is really not really worth us fighting over, it’s our opinion, and then understanding that that is not who we are. Anyway, we’re not that persona. It frees us and now I can choose to be pleasing. But I’m not compelled because I don’t want to people to be afraid that people will leave me and then that’s really where you have your power.
Robert Maldonado 19:49
Nice. Yes. And at the end of the day, we have to look at what is the usefulness of this emotion we call anger. You know, we hinted a little bit at this motivation. But there are deeper aspects to it even at the social, psycho social level, even at our personal level. And if you think about it a anger as unexpressed passion, then it starts to give you a better sense of how it’s very useful to us.
Debra Maldonado 20:34
So what would be a good exercise for them?
Robert Maldonado 20:37
In a Jungian model, it’s essentially integrating this this shadow element into our consciousness, meaning becoming aware of it. So a good exercise is to really reflect on those moments that have triggered that anger and try to become conscious of how it’s reflecting something about you, instead of projecting it and saying, well, it’s that person that made me angry. Find that personal you in that, you know, why is it coming up? Why is it arising? Why is it triggering you? That process then leads to that integration to that wholeness to make it conscious.
Debra Maldonado 21:29
And one thing I do want to say is that back in the 70s, they had the air ad they would tell people to pound pillows and you know, scream and all those things, those workshops people went to I went to them, and really that’s not effective. The research has shown that this actually just reinforces that unconscious tendency to feel angry versus really transform it in any way.
Robert Maldonado 21:57
Yeah, I think so because you’re still buying into the project. And that something outside other people situations that are making you angry when what integration is about is realizing that it’s arising from you knowing that no one can make us angry.
Debra Maldonado 22:15
And really, it’s our inability to ask for what we want, speak up, and all those things that we need to look at and that causes the anger and how attached we are to our pleasing personality and being a nice person. So it doesn’t mean you should be a bad person but it’s you don’t want the nice person identity to control your life. And be willing for people to be mad at you for a little bit and for your own safety and you always say the best thing you can do for others is ask stand up for yourself and respect yourself because it teaches them to respect theirs. Great show. Alright everyone, I’ll see you on the next show the next installment of our emotion series coming soon.
Robert Maldonado 22:57
See you next time.