Anger: a broader perspective

The liver, considered a functional system in Chinese medicine, is the first line of defense of the body against negative emotional events. This system has a yin aspect that governs tendons and ligaments as well as a yang aspect that controls the nervous system.

The liver is also responsible for the development and regulation of the relationship between cognitive function and physical movement from conception to death. The psychomotor energy peaks in the human being between the ages of 1 and 3. The degree in which the child is able to assert itself will be determined by the reaction of the parents to this burst of energy. If the parent is more concerned with power than love, the child will inhibit the expression of the self and a split between mind and the behavior will occur. Whenever we pretend we are other than whom we really are, we are dealing with inhibition. This inhibition generates a deep sense of impotence that will translate into rage. Over time this impotent rage may lead to the development of the passive-aggressive personality.

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When we feel angry, it is always the child in us that is reacting and projecting. Anger cannot occur without the belief of having been attacked. It involves the justification of retaliation and denies any personal responsibility. This insane scenario will make us believe that somebody is worthy of attack, not love.

In order to transform our anger we need to recognize the presence of the wounded child in us and take care of it. Like a big brother or sister we need to embrace and protect him/her daily.

Through mindfulness which is the capacity of being aware of what is going on in the present moment, we can recognize our anger, accept its presence and transform it through breathing. We breathe in knowing that anger has manifested and breathe out smiling towards our anger. Smiling changes our brain pathways immediately. By doing this simple exercise we recognize our anger, accept that it is there and embrace it with tenderness.

Physically anger creates an increase in tension throughout the body; the muscles tighten compressing the blood vessels and blood pressure rises to be able to push the blood through. Pain will arise in the most vulnerable areas and digestive disturbances may occur. The elevated blood pressure rushes the blood through the liver impairing detoxification and making the organism more prone to allergies, eczema and sinus problems.

References

Leon Hammer, M.D. Dragon Rises and Red Bird Flies
Thich Nhat Hanh, Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
A Course in Miracles