Springtime Emotions

As so many of you know, in Chinese medicine, the emotion that dominates in the springtime is anger.  The energy of this powerful emotion, within the five element paradigm, is likened to the force it takes to push from a seed buried within the earth into the freedom of the air, with its infinite possibility.  We love when trees are blooming and flowers have revealed their petals, but the process of blooming is difficult and brutal, much like the process of healing.  True healing is often difficult, painful and challenging, but we do it, some of us, because we believe we will be more whole, compassionate and loving beings on the other side.  We believe the world is beckoning us to heal and we are listening to its call. 

That being said, negotiating anger is tough.  It has been a great challenge for me to figure out how to successfully deal with anger.  Anger is hard to do well.  People usually repress anger because we were all taught, to some extent, that it’s not socially acceptable to be spouting anger all day long.  Which is true, actually!  Imagine a bunch of two year olds trying to get stuff done at the office and everyone is having temper tantrums because no one is getting their way.  As maturity sets in, we learn to curb our frustrations in order to function in a society and we are taught, as children, to do that.  

The problem arises, usually in childhood, when we are taught to repress angers we shouldn’t repress.  Some angers are actually messengers of deep truths.  In its proper form, anger functions to get us out of dangerous or harmful situations.  It also helps us create lives that are aligned with who we are.  If we repress our anger, we allow bad situations to prolong instead of resolve.  The physical price tag on this type of emotional repression is depression, migraines, chronic unresolved pain, and many types of gynecological imbalances having to with inflammation and stagnation.  The emotional cost is we feel a sense of dissatisfaction with our lives.  The question is – what is our anger beckoning us to do?  What seeds need to unfold their petals and what seeds just need forgiveness?

bb9e9801-5543-43cb-8f4d-68fd0dc0b167This is an interesting example from my own life.  Many of you know, last August I moved into a new apartment that I loved.  After just hours of moving in, I realized there was a big problem.  The neighbor upstairs was blasting his TV for many hours of the day. I am a peace-loving introvert who thrives in silence.  I do a lot of writing and yoga and personal prayer time that all require the ability to concentrate and turn inward. This neighbor was literally making me insane.  Every morning he woke me up at 6:45 in the morning to extremely loud and obnoxious morning television.  There were times he woke me up in the middle of the night.  Other times it felt as if I lived under an IMAX movie theatre.  The anger I was experiencing was definitely affecting me adversely, but because of the wife’s mental health issues, that the couple spoke only Russian, and his deafness, we weren’t able to go upstairs and talk to them.  When we tried, she thought we were from the KGB and were coming to take her away (literally).  And this is a good example of the challenge of learning how to co-exist with the mentally ill in our society, which adds another challenging layer to effectively dealing with anger.  

After a while, things improved because we had called the management company and they spoke to the husband somehow.  But around December, things suddenly got worse.  I found out, through the super, that the wife had died.  In her absence, it seemed he had no gauge for what was too loud and what was appropriate and I started to lose my mind again.  

One day, after I had prayed and prayed and prayed for a solution, the idea came to me when I heard two voices upstairs, one of which I knew to be the home health aide, “Maybe she speaks English!” The seed of anger had finally started to sprout tendrils of growth as I knocked on the door to the apartment that had been plaguing me for months.  A woman answered the door and I began to plead with her that I was losing my mind and that I was being woken up at 6:45 and that something was going to have to change and that I was going to have to call management yet again, my voice shaking as if I were a child.  

What happened next completely exceeded all expectation.  My perception that he was a senile old man who cared nothing about the environment around him was cracked.  As it turned out, he had been driving the home health aide insane too and that the two of them had been doing research on a possible solution.  She invited me in and actually introduced me to the man upstairs.  I finally got to put a face to the image of the person who had been causing all of this noise and it was so interesting.  He totally understood my anger but the only thing he had in his life was the television.  It was clear to see that he never left the dirty apartment and that the windows were locked up even though it was a gorgeous spring day.  But he handed me a piece of paper and on it was the name of a headset that the neighbor had bought that would fix the problem.   However, between the two of them, they couldn’t figure out how to get it.  She handed me the paper and asked if I could get it for him.  He handed me $300 cash.

I was actually really humbled by his vulnerability and how much trusted me.  He had never met me before, yet he was willing to basically show me where he kept his stash of money and to trust that I would help him.  It was completely disarming.

I spent my morning ordering him a new television and the headset.  Both items arrived the next day, which I thought was incredible.  Then they needed help setting it up.  This time I went upstairs with a real desire to help someone who was actually quite vulnerable.  I set the television and headset up and he was so happy.  The health aide opened the liquor cabinet to offer me something, and when I refused, they gave me a chocolate bar.  

The point of this story is that anger is sometimes calling us to act.  It is often not clear what action is required and can take time to reveal itself.  But anger is not to be ignored or repressed or judged or hated. Anger is ok if we listen to its message and communicate.  This experience taught me a lot about following the path of anger in relationships.  Sometimes something beautiful can develop out of frustrated emotions.  

If you are feeling stuck in a resentment and know it is affecting your health, please reach out and book a session with me today.  I’d love to try to help you move through the frustrations of spring with more ease and grace.   

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