I’ve been finding myself annoyed and frustrated lately.
There’s nothing clear I can attribute it to. Feels like I’ve been wearing way-too-tight knickers—a.k.a. the dreaded “cranky pants.”
It got me thinking about the emotion of anger. Sociologist and emotion expert Karla McLaren, in her fabulous book The Language of Emotions, indicates that anger helps us to protect and honor our boundaries. That includes not only our physical space, but also our ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and the ways of being that are valuable and important to us.
Metaphorically, anger is like having your own inner superhero. For example, I have a friend who imagines her anger as Wonder Woman. I love that. Isn’t it fun to imagine Wonder Woman watching over your internal and external space? Flying around you in her invisible jet making sure all is well. Ready to alert you at a moment’s notice to any disruptions. Her Lasso of Truth standing by, waiting to rope-up any intruders that cross the line into your sacred territory or any internal invader that wreaks havoc (usually in the form of your own inner critic).
In McLaren’s book are questions you can ask yourself to help clarify the possible message inside the emotion showing up.
I love her questions for Anger: “What needs to be protected? What needs to be restored?”
Asking the question helps you to get clear, especially when you’re not consciously aware of why you’re angry.
When I asked myself the questions after my own recent bout of crankiness, this is what I discovered: I need to be protected from my own inner pushy perfectionistic self. I’ve been trying to pressure myself into moving forward with my goals, faster … faster … faster—in my business, my home projects, and in losing the 5 pounds I gained over the winter. This internal pressure is making me crazy. I’m disrupting my own inner calm. It’s not helpful and it’s counterproductive. Yours truly is also pressuring herself to do it all perfectly with no messes, short term failures, or readjustments along the way.
Good heavens. No wonder I’ve been cranky!
My own inner Wonder Woman is essentially asking me to stop harassing myself. She’s wrapped her Lasso of Truth around me and is reminding me that what would really feel good is to release the self-pressure. What needs to be restored is my safe inner utopia. I do that by stopping, breathing, and feeling into what my inner wisdom wants me to know. This is the message I received: “All is well in this moment. It doesn’t all have to be done today. One step at a time. It’s ok to make mistakes and readjust as you need to. You can grow your business, work on your home projects, and exercise and tend to your body in ways that feel good without the excess pressure.”
Ahhh … that feels so much better … and I notice that as I relax into less pressure and taking one step at a time I actually get more done. Imagine that.
If you’re struggling with frustration, anger, or inner hostilities you can channel your own inner Wonder Woman (or other favorite superhero or helpful figure that resonates with you). Then find a quiet spot and ask yourself the questions for anger: “What needs to be protected?” and “What needs to be restored?” Don’t overthink it. Notice what pops into your mind without judging it. Be curious. Please feel free to share what you notice. I’d love to hear about it. Or if you have questions about the process, please feel free to shoot me an email. I’m a bit of an emotion geek, and I love chatting about them!