The one emotion that is both all too familiar for Men and also the one in which many Men feel immense shame about feeling or expressing.
If we look at Anger from when we’re a child, the emotion of anger is really an act of protest, meaning that when a need of ours isn’t being met and we want to raise our caregivers attention to it, anger arises to protest that our needs need to be met. This is where our ability to hold anger and express it in a healthy manner starts to take shape.
A child will only protest so much without their protests being listened to or attended to. If the protests go unattended to, a child has no other option but to disregard their own emotion out of the sake of survival since the caregivers in a child’s life are their lifeline. It’s far too intense to hold both love and anger for a caregiver at such a young age, especially one you’re depending on for your survival. This is where many men learn to stuff their anger down, believing that it’s not worth it to express it since no one will care if I’m angry or not. This can start leading towards conflict avoidance, a lack of self confidence in communication, and a reluctance to be with their emotions.
Later in life, with anger being built up under the surface and a reluctance to experience their emotions, these men will start to feel as though they are not in control of their emotions due to how distant they feel from them and how foreign the relationship is with them. Anger still comes out in the form of rage for example if someone cuts them off in traffic or when the man’s identity feels threatened, and they may identify it as “seeing red”, though unable to identify their anger normally during the day to day. Usually underneath this anger, is a deep sense of grief, a feeling of sadness for missing out on a childhood they feel like they wish they had, or for example sadness regarding their caregivers and how they wish they had been able to be listened to or seen during their childhood.
Anger tends to show up a lot in intimate relationships as there can be no stuffing it down for too long. Oftentimes the Man’s partner who is on the receiving end of the man’s anger usually represents to the man a parental figure or someone in such a close relationship to that it reminds them of their parents/caregiver. So their act of protest within the relationship comes lashing out in a way that is seemingly unannounced and unprovoked. Maybe it’s the man’s sense of identity is feeling threatened or the man’s partner is asking the man to share their emotional experience and that in itself feels too overwhelming and a need to protest comes raging out. This tends to lead towards the end of relationships or a feeling of immense guilt or shame from the Man about why they are acting in such a way when they also feel they love this person they are with yet cannot control their anger.
Being able to sit with your internal experience is a superpower for living an authentic and enriching life. For too many Men, sitting with their emotional internal experience feels too foreign or too intense so they distract themselves from going inside themselves with external distractions such as overworking (This can lead to performance-based esteem) or addictions such as porn and alcohol. These end up being survival strategies that are formed to protect oneself from the pain of the past and distract them from truly living in the here and now. By starting to invite curiosity around one’s internal experience, it can open the door to slowly sitting with one’s emotional experience overtime. This doesn’t mean you bust down the door and charge into your emotions as I can only imagine that may feel overwhelming to even think about. The process involves self-inquiry around what is it like to experience anger, what tends to happen when I truly feel my anger, and what do I want to do when anger arises?
It’s not about getting rid of your anger, it’s about being able to sit with your anger and understand what it’s trying to tell you, and from that place of understanding you can move forward knowing your needs in the present moment. We make sense of our emotions cognitively but we can’t make our emotions disappear or appear on a wim, our emotions are our bodies’ opportunity to communicate with us. The more we as Men are able to sit with our emotions and understand what they are telling us, we are now in control of what we want to do in the present moment and moving forward.