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Anger

Coach Shevanne  Helmer by Shevanne Helmer
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Anger, in its rawest form, is a universal emotion, yet the societal response to it starkly differs between men and women. Men's anger is often seen as a sign of strength, a natural response to challenges. Women's anger, however, is frequently perceived as unbecoming, something to be controlled and suppressed. This dichotomy has significantly colored my own experiences with anger.

Reflecting on my personal journey, I am reminded of two influential women in my life: my Scandinavian mother-in-law and my Jamaican mother. My mother-in-law, a woman I deeply admired and loved, always encouraged me, in her gentle way, to control my emotions. As a young wife of 22, coming from a fiery Jamaican background where emotions ran high and my own beloved mother's anger sometimes resulted in harsh physical reactions, this was a stark contrast. My mother-in-law embodied serenity and calmness, something almost alien to me at that stage of life. Her composure was emblematic of the societal expectation placed on women—to be the bastion of tranquility, regardless of the turmoil within. Yet, in hindsight, I have come to realize that her way of expressing anger was through sarcasm—a weapon she wielded with precision. While maintaining her serene exterior, her sarcastic remarks could be unexpectedly cutting and deadly.

My own beloved mother, a beautiful, vibrant and passionate woman, often struggled with her uncontrolled emotions. Growing up, I witnessed her intense, sometimes physical expressions of anger, which left a lasting impression on me. The contrast between my mother's sometimes raw, uncontrolled fury and my mother-in-law's supposedly composed serenity, underpinned by her sharp sarcasm, deeply influenced my approach to anger.

This expectation to modulate our emotions, especially anger, is deeply ingrained. I recall an incident at work where expressing displeasure led to a cold, uncomfortable silence. If a man had expressed similar sentiments, he might have been seen as assertive, a leader. But as a woman, my anger was a cause for discomfort, a breach of the unwritten rule that women should remain composed and agreeable.

The dichotomy is not just a personal struggle but a societal one. Men's anger is often validated as a response to external provocateurs. Women's anger, conversely, is scrutinized and often attributed to internal deficiencies or emotional instability. This disparity not only undermines women's experiences but also perpetuates a culture where women's legitimate grievances are dismissed or minimized.

Embracing my anger became an act of defiance against these societal norms. It became a journey of honoring my true self, recognizing the validity and importance of my emotions. I learned to express my anger in constructive and healing ways. Dancing, painting, and other forms of creative expression became my outlets, transforming my anger from a source of conflict to a source of strength.

In learning to listen to the wisdom of my anger, I discovered a deeper connection to my inner self. Placing my hand on my womb, I would seek guidance from that powerful, intuitive space. What emerged were insights about my life, my relationships, and the changes I needed to make. This journey was not just about managing anger but about understanding and harnessing it as a tool for personal growth and empowerment.

To women grappling with their own anger, I say this: Your anger is valid. It's a reflection of your experiences, your struggles, and your passions. It's a part of your sacred feminine, a wellspring of wisdom and creativity. Embracing it is not just about personal liberation; it's about challenging the societal norms that seek to silence our voices. In honoring our anger, we honor our truth, and in doing so, we pave the way for a more equitable and understanding world.


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