Talking to anger.
The coaching topic that I’m working on right now is, “To more skillfully process my anger in the moment so I can capture the core insight it has to offer and bring that clarity into my writing.” This is important to me because I want to feel seen and heard through my creative work and, until I get a handle on my anger, that’s not going to happen. Anger overwhelms and ultimately complicates what I’m trying to share in my writing. It also stops me from being able to address the underlying grief and trauma that continue to feed it. So, the time has come for me to walk through these fires; I feel like I’m at a standstill and the only way forward is to address this topic head-on. In order to ground this work of processing my anger, I have a metaphor to give shape to how I am currently showing up in my topic and another metaphor to outline a new way of being for me to embody.
My current way of being metaphor is the Way of the Provocative Sequoia Seed. As the Provocative Sequoia Seed, I believe that fire is the only way for me to take root and be seen for what I have to offer. As such, I am constantly gathering kindling and otherwise looking for a spark that might become the blaze that frees me from my cone. On one hand, my capacity to be with the heat of anger has allowed me to explore difficult emotional territory and reckon with the uncomfortable and painful truths that reside there. On the other hand, my fires can get out of control and melt all my emotions down into an inarticulate blaze. This closes down the possibility of me extracting some wisdom or truth from the fire and being able to share it with others through my writing.
My new way of being metaphor is the Way of the Skillful Glass Blower. As the Skillful Glass Blower, I believe that as long as I give myself time to process what’s come out of the fire, then I can use those insights to create vessels that clearly communicate a feeling that can be held by others. While still working with fire, this new way of being allows me to create work that won’t consume me in the process. As much as I need heat to shape the glass, I also need the coolness of my breath. Furthermore, more heat doesn’t equal more progress or recognition. Instead, in this way of being, I need to have faith that as long as continue to show up and create, then the work will come in time. This allows me to be with the truths that are alive within my own process as it unfolds.
To begin this process of moving from the Way of the Provocative Sequoia Seed to the Way of the Skillful Glass Blower, I spent a few weeks doing a self-observation exercise. This practice is entirely about becoming familiar with my current way of being. During this time, I learned that the Provocative Seed feels like she needs to respond to her anger quickly, which gives her little to no time to process her feelings. Not only that, she overloads herself with information-as-fuel that only further feeds the experience of emotional overwhelm in the moment. The result of this is that I overheat and then cry as a way to shut down the fires that have gotten out of control. Being able to see my way of being more objectively came as such a relief, even if what I was seeing felt ugly and small.
Now, I have moved on to a practice that will help me build my capacity to process my anger in the moment and embody the Way of the Skillful Glass Blower a little bit more. Whereas the Provocative Sequoia Seed feels like there is no space to get curious when anger arises and thus, reacts quickly to its spark, the Skillful Glass Blower is able to be with the heat of her furnace and begin a conversation around what it’s trying to tell her. She has faith that there is clarity that can be pulled from the fire. At the same time, she also gives herself time to get curious and potentially get to the core of what the fire has to offer. This initial practice I designed is called Talking to Anger.
Talking to Anger
Once a day—and only once a day—when the spark of anger ignites within you, take a few minutes to get curious and converse with your anger in the moment.
First, pause and acknowledge that anger is present.
Take a deep inhale and a long exhale and be with its presence for that breath.
Now, notice what you’re feeling in your body. Put words to those sensations to help ground you.
Say hello to your anger. Ask it what it’s message for you is.
Then, listen. Just listen.
If questions arise, ask your anger those questions. Be mindful that you ask and don’t demand answers.
Stay with that information channel open—supported by you breath—until you have clarity around what anger trying to say to you in that moment.
Once you feel like you’ve found a gem, use that as a jumping off point to write about what you experienced/are experiencing.
Then put it aside to cool off for at least a day.
Go back to the writing a day later and examine what is there.
There are also questions that go along with this practice to help me illuminate my ways of being as they show up. I am looking for the beliefs, actions, words, reactions and ways of checking that will allow me to see clearly if I am operating from the Way of the Provocative Sequoia Seed or the Way of the Skillful Glass Blower. In the beginning, it’s usually a combination of the two. Being more able to clearly identify when the Provocative Sequoia Seed is present means that I can interrupt her in the moment and move towards responding to my anger as the Skillful Glass Blower. Getting curious about what my anger is trying to communicate is the first step to making that embodied shift.
In addition to talking to anger, I am also doing a daily Tonglen meditation to support me in building the body of my new way. This too has been insightful as I am realizing how much I am holding anger, grief and trauma in my body on a cellular level. These sensations are beyond story; they have simply been absorbed as part of my energetic makeup. So, while I am engaging in the cognitive activities of meditation and talking to my anger, I am also working on a somatic level to support my body in being able to process my emotions. From where I’m sitting right now, this all feels very daunting. At the same time, I don’t think I can move forward into the next chapter of my life until I address this topic. So I am going to use my blog in the coming months to document my process and keep me grounded in the change I’ll be undergoing. Whatever happens, I promise that I will show up and write.