By Laurie Stone, L.Ac.
Here are 3 things to do when you are stuck in anger
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), no emotion is a bad emotion. It is human nature to feel emotions and these change constantly throughout the day for every one of us. Emotions only become a problem when we get stuck in them.
Take anger, for example.
“Anger is nothing more than an outward expression of hurt, fear and frustration.”
Anger shows up as frustration, rage, annoyance, irritability, and resentment. No matter how fancy we get with the words, they are all just forms of anger.
Anger itself is not a problem. Anger can be a useful emotion to motivate us to make a change.
Where anger become a problem is when we get stuck in it.
What do I mean by stuck?
- You got angry at a driver who cut you off on the road and you are still stewing about it 12 hours later.
- You are frustrated with your spouse and instead of working it out, you slam cupboard doors putting away the dishes.
- You are mad that you agreed to bake for a school event and you eat a bag of chips instead of letting them know you’ve had a change of mind.
- You find yourself snapping at a family member, knowing full well that they didn’t deserve your anger but you couldn’t help it and snapped at them anyway.
Direction of Anger
In TCM, each emotion has an energetic direction it wants to move in our body. The emotion of anger wants to go up and out.
Think of how we describe someone as “blowing their stack.” You conjure an image of someone whose face is red, steam coming out of their ears, harsh upwards gestures with their arms.
This is the perfect example of energy movement of anger. A healthy response is to get it up, out, and be done with it.
Sometimes a person has this correct movement of anger, but they are in a phase of continually repeating the anger, so this is still a form of stuck emotion. They are venting the anger, but never fully resolving it so they can move on past it.
Now, what about when anger gets suppressed?
We are so often taught that anger is not appropriate, and many of us are trained from when we were very little that we shouldn’t be angry.
But you can’t possibly tell someone not to be angry. If this is what they are feeling, then this is what they are feeling. Period.
If that anger is not let out, it gets buried down and turned into frustration. My new favorite kitchen gadget – the Instant Pot – is a perfect example here.
The energy movement wants to go up and out, but it’s being forced down and in, and that can only build up pressure. If there is no release valve, the pressure will eventually start causing a problem inside the body.
It’s a low level, constant form of stress from holding in the anger. So this is definitely a form of stuck emotion.
Okay, so what do you actually DO to move the anger up, out, and gone?
1. Give yourself permission to feel the anger.
Call it what it is, don’t sugar coat it. And don’t feel the need to justify it – you don’t have to keep repeating the story of what made you angry.
How do you let yourself feel an emotion?
Emotions aren’t just in our minds. When you stay in your mind, you’re thinking the emotion, not feeling it.
Pause and notice where you feel it in your body…
Is your face hot?
Are your ears ringing?
Is your gut in knots?
Do you feel a headache?
Are your shoulders tense?
Are your toes tense?
Are you making a fist?
Is your mouth in a tight line?
Are your eyes squinting?
What else do you feel in your body?
Simply noticing the tense areas starts to prompt you to naturally relax them. For example, the second you are aware of your furrowed eyebrows, you’ll notice that it almost hurts to keep that much tension there and it feels better to relax them.
2. Move the Anger
If you are really angry, closer to rage, I recommend you do this one first BEFORE feeling it, because the feelings can be intense. But these ideas work really well for frustration too.
Punch a pillow.
Walk a block as fast as you can.
Do 5 jumping jacks or pushups.
Climb a flight of stairs.
Sit in your car, windows up, and shout it out.
Blow up balloons and pop them.
Grab a piece of paper and write it out as fast as you can and then shred the paper.
3. Grab your oils.
Once you’ve felt the anger and opened the release valve to let off some steam, now it’s time to use your essential oils.
I keep this as the third step, because if you try to quell the anger using your roller blend without actually feeling the anger first and venting some or all of it, then the oil can be used as another way to suppress anger and push it down into frustration.
And what happens when you are out somewhere and realized you completely forgot to tuck your roller into your purse or bag? Practicing the first two steps gives you skills to deal with your anger anytime, anywhere.
That said, essential oils are so incredibly powerful at shifting emotions because of the direct connection of our olfactory nerve to our limbic system in the brain. This is where we store emotions in the brain.
There are a number of pre-made blends that are great for anger including doTERRA’s Forgive, Peace, and Citrus Bliss blends.
If you are like me and you really enjoying making your own rollers at home, here is one of my favorite blends for anger:
Move the Anger 10mL Roller Blend
10 drops Lemon
5 drops Eucalyptus
5 drops Tea Tree (Melaleuca)
Fill the rest with Fractionated Coconut Oil
Roll on inner wrist and behind the ear as needed.
Need these oils? Click here.
Lemon is the Oil of Focus – it brings clarity to the situation. Anger can be an exhausting emotion so lemon helps to restore energy.
Eucalyptus is the Oil of Wellness – it encourages taking responsibility for oneself. Anger also causes tight, shallow, and fast breathing so eucalyptus helps to expand and relax the breath.
Tea Tree is the Oil of Energetic Boundaries – it boosts one’s ability to stand up for oneself and not feel taken advantage of. Tea Tree is especially powerful in cases of suppressed frustration.
Try these solutions next time you feel a burst of anger. If you feel like your are still stuck in anger after doing steps 1 through 3, then step 4 is to book an acupuncture appointment with me. Acupuncture is a great tool for moving stuck emotions and I can help. You can book your appointment online here.
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