Venting Anger Around Others
Have you ever been around someone who is expressing anger? It’s uncomfortable, isn’t it? And painful, too. Ouch! Anger is a fiery hot emotion, explosive and volatile in nature—not an easy emotion to handle. Learning to express it properly is like learning to handle dynamite. One false move and we can emotionally blow someone up, inflicting great pain and suffering. For several years now I have sought to understand anger, how to use it and how to express it. This article is about a recent discovery I made regarding the expression, or venting, of anger—a multidimensional discovery.
Standing in the kitchen, I’m washing the breakfast dishes when my husband enters, red-faced and angry. I stand there with my hands in the water silently observing my body’s response. As he yells and cusses about his misbehaving computer, my back muscles begin to tighten in an attempt to ward off the fiery cloud of energy wafting towards me. My Inner Child screams, “Run!” as the cloud burns the lining of my auric field. Though I can empathize with his pain, it leaves me feeling irritated, used, and put upon. I try to tell myself that it is okay to support him, that expressing anger and pain is good. After all, we have an agreement to allow each other to express anger without fear of being shut down, made wrong, or fixed. All he is doing is utilizing that agreement so why do I get so upset when he expresses anger or rage around me, even when it’s not about me? Why can’t I be a good, supportive listener as I agreed to be? Now that’s the million-dollar question.
After years of training in multidimensional beliefs and concepts, I had come to understand that anger and its resulting pain is a normal part of any deep relationship because it is a normal part of being human. In addition, I had learned that everything has a value, which means that anger has a value, in fact, many values. From the multidimensional perspective, anger used properly is valuable in a number of ways.
Anger acts as a protective mechanism, sort of like a fire alarm. Our Inner Child uses it to alert us to the fact that we have been, or will shortly be, emotionally and/or physically violated. 
Anger when expressed shows our Inner Child that we love him/her because he/she has alerted us to possible danger and we listened and responded. In essence, we walked our talk. We showed by our action that we do care enough about him/her to protect him/her.
Anger can be cathartic when expressed in the moment, cleansing the body of the emotional/physical violation so that it doesn’t get stored.
When expressing anger in a relationship to clear a violation, or our fear of a one, we remain current with our feelings, and thus, open and honest with our partner.
Okay, I get all that but it still didn’t answer my question as to why I have a hard time supporting people when they express anger in my presence. This has been a real point of contention between my husband and me. Now Jonathan, he’s amazing in many respects, and not just because he’s my husband, but because he can allow people to express anger in his presence, and be there with them, supporting them emotionally and physically until they are complete. I so admire him for being able to do that. His ability to be a supportive listener comes from his childhood conditioning. In his home there was no judgment put on expressing anger. This stood him in good stead years later as an addictive disease counselor, working in hospitals helping people get clean from alcohol and drugs. It’s amazing how much anger comes out when the medication is no longer there to control it.
As I’ve gone through the process of finding what lies at the root of my inability to be a good listener and feel another’s anger, I’ve covered a lot of ground. First I thought it was due to the way my father would have rage tantrums, not just angry tantrums, but raging tantrums—the kind where furniture is destroyed and walls become holey…no pun intended. His rages were unpredictable and terrified my brothers and me. But what we feared most was being the one blamed for his anger–and many times I was. I grew up walking on those proverbial eggshells, always vigilant not to give my father any reason to be angry which included policing my brothers’ behavior. But when that failed, I did everything in my power to stop his rage including fixing the problem, reasoning with him (now that’s quite senseless because you can’t reason with a man insane with rage) and taking the blame if necessary. Because of this situation in our home life, I grew up unconsciously conditioned to believe that anytime a person was upset in my presence, even when it was not about me, that it was somehow my responsibly to stop it.
As I grew in understanding of myself I realized that my childhood conditioning was only part of the reason and, I found a way to change this programming. When others vent (unload) anger around me but not at me, I quickly go inside, grab my Inner Child in my arms and softly repeat, “It’s not about me, it’s not about us. They are just expressing pain and it’s okay.” This technique seems to do the trick but it did not take away the pain I felt from their expression and further, it did not stop me from being angry and resentful afterwards.
On one particular recent afternoon the answer to that million-dollar question came to us and, of course, like most multidimensional answers it was multilayered, but as such, was totally complete. Jonathan and I were in another of our “little discussions” over my inability to allow him to express anger when I said, “Oh, I got it. I can’t allow you to express because when you do so I am left with your discarded anger and carry it until I can get rid of it … and it hurts to carry it! That’s why I get angry … I’m left feeling it while you sail away feeling relieved and better. No wonder I get upset. No wonder I can’t be a good listener!” I felt like a huge light just switched on, illuminating the darkness of ignorance I had been living in all my life.
As we continued to talk, we realized that we needed a way for me release and clear the pain. I went inside to ask my Inner Child what she would want to be able to clean out the anger and release the pain of it. Her answer, “I want him to show that he appreciates my efforts to be a good listener. I want to be thanked for being willing to feel his discarded anger and carry it until it’s cleared. I want him to say that he is grateful that I am willing to provide this service for him and that he understands that doing it hurts.”
Okay that was pretty clear. So I replied, “Jonathan, I want to be thanked for being a supportive listener. And, I want you to help me clear the pain of your vent from my body and energy field. If you will do that, then I won’t have any problem with allowing you to express anger in my presence. And not only will it be okay, I will look forward to having opportunities do provide this service as a way to show my love. So once you’ve completed your vent I’d like to you say something like, ‘Thank you for listening to me. I know that feeling my anger hurt you and I appreciate your willingness to listen while I vented.’ You don’t have to say those exact words, Jonathan. Just speak from your heart, and I’ll feel it.”
So having Jonathan come back and release me from the pain that he left with me was the final piece of the puzzle I had been searching for. But there is one more detail that I want to stress. Notice that when I asked my Inner Child what she would need to release the pain, she didn’t ask for an apology. An apology would signify that I was a victim and I don’t want to be one. After all, the reason for embracing multidimensional concepts and beliefs is that they eliminate victimhood, thus showing us how to think and live as fully empowered creator gods/goddesses. I am not a victim when I have chosen through agreement to allow another, in this case, Jonathan, to express anger in my presence. But, if he apologizes for venting, he implies that I am one—that I am not a whole and complete person capable of processing the pain of anger. When that occurs, it undermines the trust I was building for him through our venting agreement. This in turn undermines our relationship. All I require in order to keep my part of the agreement is to be validated and appreciated for my role so that I can then clear the anger from my field. I am not a victim of his pain when we have an agreement to allow venting.
On the other side of the fence, for Jonathan, giving an apology would send the message to his Inner Child that he was bad … that expressing anger was wrong, and therefore, he is a bad person. This undermines his efforts to learn to use and express anger appropriately. It undermines his work to move into acceptance of anger as being of value and to use it as a tool for self-protection and healing. If there is an agreement between us to allow each other to express anger around the other, then his venting is not bad. He is simply utilizing the right inherent in our venting agreement. So venting anger is not bad, it’s just that when the person around whom we express is not validated and released from the pain of our expression even though there is an agreement to do so, that it becomes a problem. If we will remember to validate after we express, we will be able to express freely and find even more support when we do.
Back to my part of the agreement, if I invalidate his vents by trying to fix the problem, make him wrong, by judging him, shutting him down, or becoming distant afterwards, I undermine his trust in me and thus, our relationship. And if I continue to do this, it won’t be long before he no longer considers me to be a safe person, or one with integrity, because I keep breaking the agreement. So you can see that the street runs both ways.
Now that I’ve explained how we discovered the final piece of how to use the “Venting Agreement”, let’s recap so that we’re clear as to how to institute it in a relationship and when it applies.
To be able to allow venting in your presence you need a venting agreement. Here’s an example: We agree to allow each other to vent anger in our presence without fear of being made wrong, fixed or shut down. We agree that when we are the Listener (the person listening to the vent), we will be supportive and empathetic. When we are the Ventor (the person venting), we agree to only express anger that is not aimed at the Listener and to thank that person and show appreciation afterward.
Guidelines for using this agreement
- The Ventor does not aim his/her vent at the Listener. Example, I vent my anger and frustration over an article in Jonathan’s presence. I don’t aim it at him as in blaming him for my frustration and anger,
- The Listener agrees to listen to the vent without making the ventor wrong, trying to fix the situation, or shutting them down. The listener agrees to be a supportive and empathetic listener. Example: When I am expressing my anger over the article, he listens and expresses empathy such as, “Yeah, I can understand how you’d feel that way.” Or, “Yep, I hear ya. That’s really tough.”
- The Ventor agrees that once he/she is done expressing that he/she will return and thank the listener, and show appreciation for the gift of this loving service.
That brings me to the final discovery of that day—anger’s fifth value:
Expressing anger and then validating the pain it causes to the listener can build trust between individuals in a relationship faster than just about anything. It can strengthen and deepen a bond much faster than if no anger is ever expressed.
That’s a pretty bold statement to make, huh? Allow me to explain.
As I mentioned earlier, anger is a highly volatile emotion and one that our society frowns upon using. We’ve been conditioned to judge angry people as being bad and emotionally unstable and thus the kind to avoid. Why? Could it be perhaps because we have no idea how to process through anger? It is a very painful energy that when felt is like a flash burn or even worse. It actually singes the outer layer of the auric field and if potent enough can burn a hole right through it. And this traumatizes just as any injury would. No wonder we dislike it!
As far as I know, our world does not teach us how to express anger appropriately or to use it as a tool for protection, healing and growth. Instead, we are taught how to stuff it or intellectually express it both of which are ineffective in getting anger out of the body. When stored, anger creates emotional blocks that can wreak havoc in our lives creating great emotional, mental and physical pain. And, we carry these blocks through to future lifetimes until they are released. Going further, being such a powerful energy, when stuffed it acts as a toxin, poisoning the body and eating us alive as in the case of cancer. Anger accumulates in the organs, especially the liver, and gallbladder, creating either obesity or if it gets into our intestines and colon, the inability to gain weight, making the person too thin.
We are conditioned that we are not to have pain in our relationships and so anger, being one of the most powerful emotional forces we have, and the one that can inflict the most pain, is something that should not exist in a “healthy” relationship. But, I beg to differ. Based on the values I described earlier, anger is not only healthy but also necessary as a way to clear violations (that will most definitely occur since we are individuals with free will) and to remain honest and emotionally current with our partners.
So my point is that we are so conditioned to fear anger and avoid it that if we did begin to use this tool in our relationships, the very act of wielding such a powerful force properly would build great trust. We could express and cleanse ourselves and then cleanse and clear the other. We could remain current in our emotions, not sweeping things under the rug for fear of creating a scene. If each time Jonathan or I expressed anger around the other, and then returned and validated the feelings so the pain was released, we would trust each other more and more and each time, and that trust would deepen. And not only trust, we would come to value each other even more because we are being appreciated! What freedom! So you could say that anger can bring people together and through its use, enable them to develop trust, and love. Isn’t that what we want in our relationships?
In closing, I am grateful for the role that Jonathan has played by showing me how to allow others to vent anger around me and be a good listener. I thank him for his willingness to continue expressing his anger around me until I finally understood this important part of handling anger. I am also thankful for the multidimensional wisdom I have learned … a level of consciousness that led me to the solution of a very painful life long problem. I hope it will help you the next time you vent or have the opportunity to support someone in doing so.
I realize that this article covers only one aspect of handling anger, the one through which non-personal anger is allowed to be expressed. The next article in this series will address how to handle personalized anger – anger being expressed at you. But, keep in mind that we are more likely to be successful working through the pain of personalized anger if we have already learned how to work through non-personalized type first. So put this agreement into practice in your relationships first and the next one will be much easier.
Written October 6, 2003
 From the multidimensional perspective, the Inner Child identifies him/herself as the physical body. For more information on the multidimensional perspective of the Inner Child, read, The Soul/Ego/Self Partnership, the 3rd Multidimensional Key of Compassion booklet found on the Keys of Compassion page.