Anger and Health Pt.2

September 7th, 2014

 

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“Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear but around in awareness.”

– James Thurber

 

 

 

 

Last week we looked at the connection between anger and powerlessness (click here if you missed it). This week we will look at the short and longer term affects the powerful ‘software’ of this emotion has on the hardware of the physical body.

 

 

 

Under pressure

 

 

In the first part of this series on anger we made the correlation between the emotion of anger and the meridian systems of the Liver and Gall bladder. Physically these systems control a variety of functions and structures in the body. A quick overview of this will help us understand how anger can affect our health in very specific ways:

 

 

Body areas:

 

  • The connective tissue (tendons, cartilage), muscle tension and the joints
  • The nails (considered in traditional Chinese medicine to be an extension of the sinews)
  • The eyes and vision

 

Functions:

 

  • Flexibility and strength
  • The ability to twist, turn and change direction
  • The gathering of blood: (this is different from circulation which is part of the Fire element and the heart/heart protector meridian systems)
    • postural tension (so we do not get dizzy changing positions from lying/sitting/standing)
    • Blood pressure
    • The gathering of menstrual blood before menstruation therefore affecting PMS.
  • Vision – both physical, intellectual (planning/strategy/philosophical) and spiritual (inner vision)
  • Drive, courage, decisiveness and the’warrior spirit’.

 

 

 

Anger as emotional software

 

 

The chi-consciousness model that informs energy medicine methods like acupuncture, shiatsu and healing may, to use a more modern metaphor, be seen as ‘software’ systems. That is, even though they appear to work on the body directly, they address the non-physical drivers of physical structure and function.

 

With this in mind, anger can be viewed as emotional software that can program certain reactions and adaptions in the body.

 

 

 

Anger as ‘pressure’

 

 

© Quirky China News

© Quirky China News

 

The Wood element rules these meridian systems. The metaphor of strong roots and branches equates to our connective tissue while the powerful drive of thousands of liters of sap pushing upwards and outwards correlates to our blood pressure.

 

 

Unsurprisingly then, many imbalances from stiff muscles, to inflammatory arthritis; joint problems and blood pressure to heart disease; migraines and tinnitus or even thyroid gland issues – can have  unresolved anger and powerless frustration over time as one of their possible origins.

 

 

This is especially true when there is a conditioned or social shame surrounding the expression of anger or a lack of tools to positively transform its powerful forces.

 

 

Aggression can quickly become passive aggression and we hurt ourselves with the implosion of energy. Energy has to do work. What kind of work is guided by our conscious (or unconscious) choices.

 

 

Aggression, passive aggression and anger may not even been seen as such but instead labeled more generally as ‘stress’. Stress has a compromising effect on our health from lowering our immune system, disrupting our hormones and creating the internal pressures listed above.

 

 

 

 

Anger as ‘heat’

 

Heat map of anger in the body

Heat map of anger in the body

 

 

Most of us are aware of the connection between anger and heat. To be ‘hot headed’ or ‘hot blooded’ are common phrases connecting the stronger passions with the body. Correspondingly, an angry person is then encouraged to ‘cool down’ or ‘chill out’.

 

At the level of energy, heat can have a disrupting and destabilizing influence on the body. In traditional Chinese medicine women are seen as being ‘cooler and moister’ energy-wise than men who tend to be naturally more ‘hotter and dryer’. This yin vs. yang description of men and women applies mostly to the strongly differentiating years between puberty and men(man?)opause.

 

The cooling, moistening affect of feminine hormones can be disrupted by the heating and drying affects of anger. PMS and strong menstruation, cysts, endometriosis and even different cancers (breast, ovarian, cervical, uterine and so on) can result from the body trying to adapt to this destabilizing influence.1

 

Men, being already Yang in nature, can be more susceptible to heart disease, blood pressure and strokes (CVA).

 

Because nothing is ever only in one direction, a side effect of some hormone imbalances are strong emotional swings. It is sometimes difficult to see which came first in the proverbial ‘chicken or egg’ conundrum.

 

The skin is another area heat is dispersed both physically and emotionally. Red, ‘angry’ rashes, eczema, psoriasis and strong acne can all have their roots in imploded heat from otherwise unexpressed anger and powerlessness disrupting both the hormonal system and the pathways of heat out of the body.

 

From an energy perspective cancer can be seen as a form of low-grade heat. Instead of a roaring fire think of smoldering coals under the ash. Nothing much appears to be happening but the potential to flare up again is still there.

 

 

© Edvard Munch

© Edvard Munch

 

In my experience some forms of cancer seem to be the result of anger pushed into the body over time. This unexpressed, silent scream then adapts and changes its strategy to be heard. So…

 

 

 

Why don’t we express anger?

 

 

The more controlled the society, the more emotionally constipated it becomes. We learn to think or feel one thing while expressing another. This is regarded as socially skillful, diplomatic or sophisticated – or at least dutifully obedient.

 

 

 

 

We are pressured not to disturb the peace of others but are not given techniques to become more peaceful in ourselves.

 

 

Instead we become a prisoner of our own emotions while in turn trying to keep them locked up and out of sight. Social shame and rejection is the threat under which we live if we lose this tenuous control.

 

 

But are the only alternatives between crudely spraying everyone else with the hot bile of our frustration or locking up pockets of destructive heat in our cells?

 

 

I’m so glad you asked…

 

 

 

The transformation of anger

 

 

Here are a few tips in managing our angry impulses in a more functional, healthy way.

 

  • Stop feeding it: We will be discussing this more next week in a look at collective anger but for now try to be aware how much we unnecessarily expose ourselves to violence and anger that serve to normalize it as a normal response to any conflict, no matter how trivial.
  • Observe our self image. Are we already seeing ourselves as the victim of others behavior even before we enter a conflict? Are we using conflict to justify this position to ourselves?
  • Change the center of energy: Anger is highly charged energy so put it to work physically or creatively till it is transformed or released.
    • exercise
    • clean the house
    • connect with nature. The tree or wood element is associated with this energy so the forest may be a good start.
    • focus it creatively (dancing, singing, writing, painting and so on)

     

  • Choose to see another angle on our situation. Many of us trapped in powerlessness are that way because we cannot see the possibility of our take on the situation being any other way.
  • Meditation is a wonderful prevention to the build up of mental and emotional static that often finds its dysfunctional release in angry, powerless outbursts.

 

After we feel calm again take time to review the events triggering our anger and see what we can learn about ourselves from it instead of focusing on what others have said or done. Our personal evolution will progress more effectively when we begin to see every everything in our life as ‘grist for the mill’ of our evolving consciousness.

 

 

 

Peace in our time

 

 

That should be enough to get us through to next Monday when will conclude this short series on anger by looking at collective energy-consciousness and how we both contribute to and are affected by our attitude and behavior regarding the role and force of anger in our lives.

 

 

 

Till another Monday is nothing to be angry about at all,

 

1 Where we manifest cancer in the body can be quite symbolic in itself and may be the subject of a blog in its own right.

 

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© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All images are the author’s own unless otherwise indicated or if the original source is unknown at the time of writing. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation: info@jeremyhalpin.com

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