Removing the“taboo” to Feel Anger

Written by: Nick Ortner

Buddha Anger QuoteI posted this quote on Facebook a few weeks ago and was glad to see it get attention because anger is important, but also taboo.

Anger is often called the ”no trespass” emotion because it feels so overpowering. We get so mad, we’re “boiling,” so enraged we “lose it.” As a result, admitting that we’re angry—even to ourselves— can feel unsafe.

To top it off, at an early age, many of us were taught that anger was a “bad” emotion. Many of us were punished for expressing anger, especially at parents and authority figures. As we got older, we were told that anger is immature, and “doesn’t solve anything.” As a result, when we do feel anger, we often push it away until finally, we unleash it in ways that wreak havoc on our lives.

Glancing at Buddha’s quote, it’s easy to get the impression that anger is “bad,” even unspiritual, but Buddha never says not to FEEL anger. He’s talking about what happens inside us when we HOLD ON TO it.

Learning to Feel Anger

There’s a HUGE difference between not holding on to anger and not allowing ourselves to feel and express it! As humans, we’re meant to experience a wide range of emotions; one of them is anger. Anger serves an important purpose, showing us where we need to turn our attention and set healthier boundaries.

When we don’t let ourselves feel anger, we can’t let it go. That’s when it turns against us, showing up as chronic physical pain, illness, low self-esteem, relationship issues, career and financial difficulties, and more.

So how can we repair our relationship with anger? And more importantly, how can we express and release the anger we do feel in a healthy and productive way?

As most of us have experienced, repressing it until we finally “let it all out” doesn’t work. In addition to risking hurting important people in our lives, after an angry outburst we’re often still angry. That just creates more problems!

Holding Back is Harmful

One day while on stage, I was reminded of how little we’re taught to express anger in a healthy, constructive way. I was tapping with a woman who was telling her story. As she shared the details of several painful events in her life, her voice grew louder and tighter. A few minutes into her story, I interrupted her to ask her how she was feeling. “Really, really angry,” she replied.

I then turned to the audience and asked who had heard the anger in her voice before she’d acknowledged it. Most of the audience raised their hands.

And that’s really the key – to let yourself feel AND express the FULL extent of your anger, but in a way that doesn’t hurt or harm anyone.

Toward that end, I wanted to share this powerful 4-step exercise[W1]  for releasing anger:

1.     Think of something, or someone, or some situation, towards which you feel angry, and give your anger a number from 0 – 10, with 10 being the angriest you could possibly feel. This doesn’t have to be a major issue – it could be the driver who cut you off in traffic this morning. The important thing here is to hone in on a person or event that sparked your anger.

2.     Next, give yourself permission to really feel your anger. Don’t worry about whether your anger is “justified” or “acceptable.” Just let yourself feel its full force.

3.     As you’re feeling your anger, begin tapping through the points, beginning at the Eyebrow point. (You can skip the Karate Chop point and setup statement for this exercise.)

Note: If there’s a story you want to tell or a memory that’s running through your head, speak it out loud as you tap through the points.

Also, if you want to say something to someone or imagine punching, kicking or even throwing something at someone, imagine yourself doing that as you keep tapping. This is your time to let the floodgates of your anger open, so really go for it. Just make sure you have plenty of space around you, so no one, including you, gets hurt. J

4.     Keep tapping until the intensity of your anger is significantly lower, no higher than a 3, even when you think about the situation or person who made you so angry in the first place. It’s important that you fully release your anger, so you can become familiar with that experience. That also helps to train your brain that it’s safe to feel anger.

(If you’re new to tapping, click here to watch a quick video on how to tap.)

If you can’t think of anyone or anything about which you’re angry, begin tapping through the points while asking yourself, “what am I angry about?” and see where that takes you. Often people discover that they have a belief that it’s not safe or acceptable to feel anger.

These exercises are part of a larger journey toward forgiveness and compassion, but the first step is allowing yourself to feel and release anger in a productive way. Once you learn to do that, a whole new world of possibilities for healing, health, and wellness opens up.

Until next time, keep tapping!

Nick Ortner

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11 Comments on this post

  1. c Overink says:

    Thank you Nick for sharing these nuggets of wisdom!

  2. Angee Folsom says:

    i need help trying to get of this pure hatred and anger towards a man that cleared my storage unit by mistake…. It was 54 years of my life and I am stuck in this emotion of hate and anger…. Tell me what I can do …. It’s been two weeks ago and I want this man to feel the pain I do…. He said it was a accident but to me it was like I died….. Please help Angee Folsom

  3. Anna Rodriguez says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. christel osmann says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  5. Gail says:

    More on fear and anger.

  6. Margie says:

    How about an audio on this like you have done on other things. It always helps me so much more to be able to follow along with an audio assist. thanks

  7. Rebecca Bryant says:

    It would be helpful if you could do a video for people of color in the United States. One problem with living with the ubiquitous and pervasive racism of the United States is that your anger is constantly re-triggered — in large ways and small and it is often very personal, not just the latest police shooting. Like someone refusing to shake your hand. Or being the only one in a group asked to show ID. It is sometimes daily, sometimes several times a day, depending on the situation. How do you keep that kind of constant barrage from taking a toll on your health? For anyone dealing with a situation where anger is constantly triggered and re-triggered — and there is nothing you can do about it because you can’t change other people — can you show some ways that tapping can help? I’m sure you would have to work with people of color for a bit first but it would be extremely helpful if you could explore this area. Thank you

  8. Maria says:

    Thank you Nick. ❤️❤️

  9. LaVerne says:

    i just did the anger tapping, telling the story, of what caused one incident of angry, at my husband.i didn’t know how to tap it out until you wrote to just tell the story. 3rounds of tapping and I felt all that anger dissipate! Amazing! Now to work on the forgiveness for this one incident. Then onto another anger issue that hurts me, maybe that is what is settled into my piriformis muscle in hip. Maybe I will get the right issue and release all the pain that has been hounding me, it started In the year 2000, in 2008′ while I was at a 4 day conference in BodyTalk in Calgary, I was inflicted with vertigo, I slipped off the chair, and hurt my back. With in 2 months, I had lost 4″ in circumference off my left leg, and less inches off my left side, from fingers, all the wY to toes. To walk any distance leaves me in extreme pain, I refuse pain medication, I just stop until the pain subsides and carry on.
    Thank you for this page of helpful suggestions. I think I will be R
    Making a list of incidents and tap them out!
    Bless you and Jessica. I am tKing her weight loss program! I am a newbie, loving it!

  10. Anger says:

    Nick, thank you for helping me realize that I have much more anger than I realized.
    Food is my drug of choice. While tapping I discovered that I use food to hurt myself. Instead of dealing with disappointments I just eat and eat. I use to think I turned to food for comfort and now I realize it is a way of punishment. My tapping list is getting longer as I uncover my true feelings and become present.

  11. Ronja says:

    Dear Nick,
    Could you please do an audio on anger and tapping?
    It is great to have your notes from above, but I find it harder to stay with the emotion, tapping by myself.
    Much love + thank you so much for your great work!
    (From Sweden)

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Get Instant Access to our "Releasing Anxiety" and "Sleep Support: Quiet The Racing Mind" Tapping meditations.
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