Anger: The Missing Ingredient to Chronic Pain Recovery

Time and time again, when I experience a period of pain and anxiety flares, the trail of clues I receive when I listen to my body leads me back to this one underlying theme: Feeling guilty about feeling angry. Do you relate?

Anger can be an empowering, expansive emotion — an embodiment of our innate life force. Karla McLaren, the author of The Language of Emotions, does a beautiful job of exploring the purpose and beauty of anger in its authentic form.

Guilt, meanwhile, is a protective, contracting emotion. It’s designed to hold us back from doing things we identify as “bad.” If anger is a gas pedal, guilt can function like a brake pedal. And when our gas and brake pedals are pushed at the same time? Hello, tension, anxiety, and pain symptoms.

So why is guilt about anger so prevalent?

Were you taught that your anger is “bad”? And if so, have you ever questioned the agenda behind this lesson? What kind of system was it designed to serve?⁠

Here’s a perspective to consider: A belief system that trains us to suppress anger is one that trains us to comply with authority — even when authority threatens our wellbeing and triggers our protective “fight” response.

Anger is an emotion that our nervous systems are designed to produce. We need anger for survival. Anger is fuel ⛽️ for self-protection. Anger is how we know that our boundaries are not being respected. Anger calls us to assert ourselves.

When we are trained to suppress our anger, we are made vulnerable to boundary violations. Suppressing our own survival mechanisms is a form of self-abandonment.

We can suppress our survival mechanisms, but we can’t turn them off — our body won’t allow it. So when we suppress anger, it condenses inside of us until it becomes explosive 💥and threatens to chaotically burst through our tight grip of control.

WHAT IF we stop fighting ourselves? What if we stop suppressing anger? Here’s what: When we ✨accept✨ our anger, honor it, welcome it, respect it, listen to it, love it… it no longer needs to explode chaotically to get our attention.

When we listen to anger respectfully and with curiosity, it can speak to us freely and clearly. It can alert 🚨 us when things are not okay, giving us choice about how to respond, and it can fuel ⛽️ assertive and intentional action in service of our highest well-being. 💗

Are you curious about how to listen to your anger this way? Here’s a two-part journaling experiment you can try:

Journaling Exercise​​​​​​​

1️⃣With pen and paper ✍️ ask,

“Dear guilt / fear / confusion about anger,
What are you feeling?

What would you like me to know?

What are you trying to protect me from?”

And see what flows onto the page 📄.

2️⃣With pen and paper ✍️ ask,

“Dear anger,

What are you feeling?

What would you like me to know?

What are you trying to protect me from?”

And see what flows onto the page 📄.

If you try this experiment, I’d LOVE to hear how it goes! 💕💗

Sending warmth, support and encouragement your way,

Anna

➡️ If you need support with chronic pain and anxiety, 𝗱𝗼𝘄𝗻𝗹𝗼𝗮𝗱 this FREE resource I created for you: 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗣𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲’𝘀 𝗚𝘂𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗶𝗰 𝗣𝗮𝗶𝗻 𝗥𝗲𝗰𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆.

PATIENT ADVISORY

Medika Life has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by Medika Life

The article lives here: PainAnger: The Missing Ingredient to Chronic Pain Recovery
Anna Holtzmanhttp://www.annaholtzman.com
Anna Holtzman is a chronic pain recovery therapist and coach based in New York City.
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