Have you felt exhausted when you have encountered a stressful experience or conflict with someone and wondered why? Have you felt headaches or stomachaches as a result of managing someone who is getting on your nerves?
Anger is a special emotion. When let loose, it can damage or cause pain. When understood and trusted, it can truly become a friend and ally.
Anger Expression Is Taught
We are often taught as women that expressed anger is bad. From a young age, when we have seen a woman rise up against an injustice, she has been deemed a "B---" or similarly dismissed or disregarded. Girls learn quickly to put their anger underground. Thankfully, I believe the tides are turning a bit in this sexism, yet we have a long way to go. I find that it is useful to use systems such as the Enneagram to help us dig into the self-inquiry need for true change in our own perspectives on anger and anger expression.
The Enneagram is a wonderful system to encourage self-knowledge and growth. Enneagram 8, 9 and 1s are in the Anger triad, or the body center. In short, this means these folks are led by anger at a core level as part of their reactivity to stress and the environment around them. They have a special connection to anger in a way that the other intelligence centers do not--therefore, they have the invitation to harness the impact of their anger--to claim it and use it for its true purpose, to create change. (If you don't know much about the Enneagram and curious about learning, check out www.enneagraminstitute.com or contact me and I'll share some resources that can help guide you.)
Anger Offers Clues, Usually Subtle--To Start!
When we are angry, it is a sign that something is out of balance. It is a warning signal, and it shows up in the body. Despite images of anger in our society, anger doesn't show up as rage, at least initially. We often don't know we're angry until someone else notices-- "Hey, you look stressed". Enneagram 9s are particularly good at dissociating from their anger, and often dismiss it "I am not irritated, I'm just tired."
Anger ISN'T Bad!
Anger can show up as a behavioral response, like eating too much, or driving a little more aggressively. Being aware of our anger and being a good steward of it takes practice and lots of self-compassion, in part because we have these ideas that anger is "bad." It isn't bad, or good. It just is. It is a tool that we can use to help us get our needs met--whether they be safety needs ("I'm feeling vulnerable") or reclaiming a boundary violation ("They aren't hearing me.")
Some Helpful Tips for Subtle Anger
I've created a few videos that explore anger in Enneagram 9s and those who are in relationship with them. While the Enneagram is a tool, it is not an evidenced based practice or personality test. It helps the exploration process, and doesn't diagnose or treat. It is all about holding wonder and possibility --to move back to wholeness.