When very angry, swear.


“When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.”

Mark Twain

I’ve always had a bit of a temper.

As a kid, whenever I’d get in trouble, I would storm out of a room screaming, run to my bedroom muttering choice words under my breath, slam my bedroom door as hard as I could, and continue to yell about the injustice of it all.

I wish I could say that I’ve outgrown that response as an adult, but I’d be lying.

I still scream, yell, mutter, slam doors (when I’m really mad), and curse up a storm. Only now, I also feel extreme guilt and anger with myself for the inappropriateness of my response. What was once considered cute and age-appropriate, is now anything but.

Anger shows up when:

  • I meditate. It’s seriously the first thing that shows up when I get back into the habit, even though it’s supposed to be the antidote. It has gotten to the point where I hesitate to get back into meditation because I hate how it feels at first.
  • I am pushed to the edges of my comfort zone. Some people feel anxiety or simply shut down, I get angry.
  • The dog wakes up the baby from a nap. It seriously causes my entire body to shake and makes me feel rage like I’ve never felt before.
  • I’m not getting my needs met. Read: tired, not had a break, overstimulated, hungry, stressed out… you get the picture.
  • I’m not being listened to. The dog, the child, people who ask for advice and then promptly ignore it.
  • I can’t figure something out. I take that failure way too personally, and it sends me down an angry spiral.

I’m sure there are a thousand and one other things that push my buttons and bring up feelings of anger, frustration, and even rage, but those are the big ones.

In the last month or so, I’ve really started to question and get curious about the emotion of anger.

What is it? Why do we feel that way? What makes anger appropriate or inappropriate? Is there even such a thing? What is the benefit of anger?

I still don’t have any answers.

And I’m still feeling guilt and shame around the intensity of my anger. (Though, I’m guessing that’s part of what is keeping it around and feeding it.)

I have begun to read some interesting posts about anger (like this one), and am trying to see my anger as a teacher or a guide for where I need to do more work.

“Anger is as sacred as all your other emotions. It is not a bad or negative emotion.”

Jim Tolles

I know I need to do better for Anna. I’m teaching her how to deal with emotions—good and bad—and feel like I’m doing a piss-poor job at it when it comes to this.

It’s time to get back to journaling, meditating, foot soaking, acupuncture, and all of the other forms of self care that I know I need.

For myself.

For Anna.

How do you handle anger?

Do you find it to be a neutral emotion, or something that’s uncomfortable, painful, or to be avoided at all costs? Have you found a way to embrace the intensity of this emotion, or to even lessen its grip on you?

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More about Emily Levenson

Emily Levenson is a meditation encourager, mama, and Pittsburgh enthusiast. She recently launched a podcast called Nourish + Flourish and is a co-pilot at Propelle.

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