The divisive political climate in this country is resulting in broken friendships and stressful family gatherings. Each side thinks they are right and that the ideas of the other side are wrong. People with opposing perspectives are ridiculed or demonized. Anger abounds. Long-held anger can deplete energy and harm health.
Anger is an emotion with a lot of underlying energy. In contrast, fear needs almost no supporting energy – we can be depleted and still feel fear, but we must have energy reserves to feel a jolt of anger. Learning to constructively express or transform anger can allow access to the underlying energy, which can be used to improve our health and accomplish more of what we want in life.
Once anger arrives, the body tenses, preparing for a possible argument or fight. The heart races and blood travels to the extremities rather than nourishing the entire body. The gall bladder, a small, sack-like organ located on the underside of the liver, receives and distributes bile and other substances secreted by the liver. The gall bladder tends to contract intermittently with anger, and this can impede the flow of bile and other substances secreted by the liver, thus interfering with the digestion of fat, and causing abdominal or chest pain or sometimes acid reflux.
Since the liver holds more blood than any other internal organ, when we hold on to anger, blood circulation is impeded. Sometimes we feel conflicted and guilty about thoughts and feelings set off by anger. Guilt sets up an internal struggle, which further tenses the muscles and often blocks the flow of blood and energy, both in the liver and throughout the body. We may feel tired, and eventually become depressed. Breathing is often impacted and the body no longer receives as much oxygen as it needs for clear thinking and optimal health. Insomnia may develop or worsen. If anger is stored in the body, rather than expressed or transformed, the adrenal glands produce cortisol, adrenaline, and other stress hormones, and eventually may become depleted. These developments can impact the immune system, leading to respiratory infections and other, more serious ailments.
From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the liver is associated with anger and rage, which are stored in the liver. A clogged, poorly functioning liver and gallbladder give rise to more anger than do healthy organs. The liver, already burdened by anger which it is storing, also has to break down and rid the body of the stress hormones secreted in response to anger and the accompanying emotions and situations which may arise. This can become a vicious circle.
Solutions to this problem are many: improved nutrition can help the liver and gall bladder become healthier. Avoiding stressful situations and relationships, at least for a while, can help the body and mind heal. Gentle stretching exercises like Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, walking outside in nature, making sure to breathe deeply, from the diaphragm, and maintaining good posture while seated, standing and walking all can help the liver and gall bladder become healthier. Gentle massage, chiropractic adjusting, acupuncture from a skilled practitioner, and sometimes light weight lifting can be helpful. Taking time at least once a day to sit quietly can help, as can trying to see things from the perspective of someone with whom we are angry. When facing an “opponent”, we may not be able to express emotions intelligibly and constructively. In this case, it might be helpful to channel the anger into some physical activity, such as mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, taking a long walk or working out at the health club. After the anger is used up, we will usually find it easier to communicate and negotiate. Following these suggestions can help tap into the underlying energy that supports and constricts anger, and can result in a higher energy level, better health, and a happier life.
This blog’s offer: come in for a free consultation to see if one or more of the above approaches may help you gain more peace of mind, more energy, and better health.