Gwen Broz – How to really feel emotions like anger

My mom with her husband, Tim. My mom is in her marakame or shaman outfit. part of her training was learning how to feel emotions like anger.

My mom with her husband, Tim. My mom is in her marakame or shaman outfit. part of her training was learning how to feel emotions like anger.

How to feel emotions like anger that can build up in our bodies and minds.

My mom is a shaman, specifically a Marakame according to the Huichol Indigenous  tradition from Mexico. She is also a medical doctor, a family practitioner. Both programs involved about 12 years of training and about the same amount of time commitment.  When I was in the depths of the mental health system, and on six psychiatric medications, she one time pointed out to me, “You don’t have any emotions. You’re just flat. If I ask you anything about your feelings, you just say, “I don’t know.”

Now I’ve somewhat figured out how to feel emotions by working through some classes and mostly just recognizing that emotions are good and don’t make me look weak. Here is my friend Susan Kingsley Smith, who talks about the time she began to feel emotions like anger. 

My mom explains what she knows about how to feel emotions like anger:

In our Western culture, we disallow what we call the negative emotions. We are considered not as evolved if we get angry or feel grief for more that a short time. Successful people are happy. They are above getting mad. However, cutting off our emotions leaves us feeling flat and depressed. In the case of not feeling emotions like anger, we can end up feeling victimized. We allow others to step on our toes without feeling angry about what happened. Anger naturally arises when boundaries need to be established.

I recently asked: “Aren’t I too emotional, too angry?” The answer is, no. Our emotions are beautiful and lead us to true connection with the world around us. The problem is when our mind repeats the story we told ourselves about the anger such as why we got angry. Repeating these stories prolongs the anger and feeds it and keeps the anger from flowing on naturally to the next emotion.

How I’ve learned to feel emotions like anger:

Now when I feel emotions like anger, I perform poems or ride a bicycle very fast or write in my journal or wrestle with friends who will tolerate it.  I’ve even recently learned how to freestyle spoken word poetry, where I make it up on the spot. Now I can feel spots in the city that have different kind of energy, and I go to one of the good spots under bridges or on the river or on a high spot and listen to my feelings. Writing in the journal slows my thoughts down enough to help me see patterns, and the freestyle poetry also pulls some patterns out of the jumble, things I keep coming back to.

Here’s my attempt at freestyle poetry at Poetry for Personal Power at UMKC on Friday:

What helps you feel emotions like anger? What do you do to listen to yourself?

8 comments to Gwen Broz – How to really feel emotions like anger

  • You go girl. Miss you. Need you back to Women’s Judo when you are ready. Fight Like A Girl Camp Aug 4-5 2012 at Southside Dojo in Michigan.
    Your looking well,

  • Ms Sam Schrepel

    I just visited your page. I agree emotions can be a good thing. I cut my psychiatric medicine in half with my doctor’s okay. . . and I’ve written a book of poems in the last three months. Emotions are good to feel after so long of not feeling them.

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  • Ola! Wellnesswordworks,
    Thanks, on a related note, Women cry, men express anger. If you can believe this, men are just as afraid of your tears as you are of his anger. Based on my years of experience working with couples, I believe that tears and anger are often expressed for the same reasons.
    I’ll be back to read more next time