Sometimes it feels easier to be angry towards someone than it is to admit that they hurt you.
Underneath anger is often sadness. Each emotion has its purpose, but to deny either is to deny yourself.
Your anger will serve to set boundaries, change patterns and put an end to poor treatment.
Your sadness will serve to open your heart, soften your defences and clear blocks to connection.
These changes can only take place when you allow both feelings to exist. When you stay stuck in one, you are often avoiding the other.
We each have a range of emotions we are comfortable expressing.
When it comes to anger and sadness, the two emotions are interconnected. Most people feel more comfortable in one or the other.
Some of my clients tend to skip over feeling angry and retract into sadness. They may feel anger for a moment, but they don’t know how to express it or be with it long enough to connect to their power. These clients typically have difficulty setting boundaries and speaking up for their needs.
Other clients are more comfortable feeling anger as it protects them from feeling their sadness. Without a balance between these emotions, anger tends to act more like a wall, keeping out connection and vulnerability.
I used to be more comfortable in my anger. I would play hardcore rap music and pretend I didn’t care when someone hurt me. I also struggled to let people in, so my ‘edge’ was to learn how to re-connect to my sadness to balance the scales.
Let’s explore why they are both needed and how your relationship to both of these emotions formed.
Why is Anger Needed?
Anger is a natural response. It’s an emotion that helps us defend ourselves and our loved ones and respond to threats. Anger is the fuel for our boundaries.
Some people reject anger because it wasn’t modelled in a healthy way.
Here are some examples of ways anger may have shown up in your household:
- Yelling, fighting, name-calling, judging and blaming.
- Anger that is pushed down and then comes out all at once (explosive anger)
- Passive-aggressive comments and remarks
- Angry family members who talk about others behind their back
- Family members who blamed others as a source of their anger
- “It’s all your fault. You always _____ and never ______.”
- Violence (physically or verbally)
Each example here has something in common.
These expressions of anger lack ownership.
A healthier expression of anger is to say, “I feel angry when _____ happens. Next time, I’d appreciate it if you could do _____ instead” (Not you made me angry, and it’s all your fault).
When you have a healthy relationship with anger, you can express it directly, without repressing it, blaming others entirely, or becoming chaotic.
Anger is the fire that creates change. It takes a stance against what feels wrong and paves a new way forward.
Connecting to your anger is also fundamental to not getting ‘stuck’ or wallowing in sadness.
Why is Sadness Needed?
When it comes to relationships, the depth of sadness you feel is parallel to how open you are.
When you resist your sadness, you resist opening to life.
Most people talk about their fears, like the fear of rejection, loss, and heartache. What they are really saying is that they fear feeling their sadness.
Societally, sadness isn’t embraced. It’s seen as a nuisance, and to avoid it through all the distractions available to us.
If you push down sensations and emotions that bring you discomfort, you will be less receptive to the fullness of feelings you wish to welcome, like love, joy, gratitude and connection.
If you grew up in a home where sadness was pushed under the rug and not embraced, you might struggle to connect to it now as an adult.
Here are some signs you grew up in a sadness-phobic home:
- Being told not to cry, either in an attempt to soothe you or quiet you down
- Rarely or never seeing your parent(s) express or share their sadness
- Hearing judgements towards your sensitivity (or about others’ sensitivity)
- Being rewarded/praised for being ‘strong’ and not crying
- Going to your room when you felt sad because it didn’t feel comfortable to be seen in sadness
If this rings true, you may find you rarely let yourself feel sad, and when you do, you do it strictly in private.
Sharing your sadness with others is a direct way to let them in. Relationships can trigger a lot of sadness.
If you have a healthy relationship with sadness, one where you can feel it fully without getting stuck within it, you can connect to yourself and others on deeper levels.
Finding Your ‘Edge’…
From here, you’ve likely identified which of the two emotions you feel more comfortable feeling.
You’ve also learnt why having a healthy relationship with both is essential.
So what do you do from here?
You learn to lean into your edge. Your edge is connecting to the emotion you feel disconnected from.
How do you do that?
It all starts with awareness. From here, you will start noticing more when it comes to your emotional range.
If you know your edge is to work with sadness, you can notice when you feel anger and look within to explore if there is some sadness underneath…
Ways to ‘reconnect’ to your sadness:
- Listen to some slow, instrumental music that helps you connect to sadness
- Light some candles and create a safe, private space for you to feel your feelings
- Work with a gentle breathing practice for 10-15 minutes
- Do an Inner Child meditation
If your edge is to reconnect to anger, you can pay attention to times when you go into sadness and explore if anger could also be present.
From there, you can ask yourself exploratory questions like…
“Was a boundary of mine crossed?”
“What needs of mine have gone unmet here?”
Ways to feel your anger:
- Yelling into a pillow
- Jumping up and down or stomping
- Sighing or grunting
- Punching pillows
I believe in working in gentle steps. If you don’t often let yourself feel anger, start slow. It could bring up a lot and feel overwhelming to work with some of the practices listed above.
Those practices are examples of connecting to the energy of anger and processing it. From there, it’s still your responsibility to communicate your needs and set boundaries.
Want Guidance Increasing Your Emotional Range So You Can Connect Deeper With Others?
Alchemy, my signature 90-day program, will help you with exactly this!
I’ll guide you through unique embodiment and somatic practices to help you reconnect with your emotions and develop healthy processing techniques.
This is the needed ingredient in creating healthy, conscious relationships.
Most people are aware of the patterns they want to heal in their relationships but don’t know how to move forward and create lasting change.
That’s where Alchemy comes in. Through subconscious and body-based practices, you can rewire your patterns and heal on deep levels.
You can read more about it here.