Anger (Abstinence?), Boundary Setting and the Spiritual Dilemma of the Good Person

by Caroline van Kimmenade

I’ve had a real struggle with anger. For the longest time, I couldn’t really be angry. I didn’t know what it felt like to be truly angry.

Some people told me this was because I was a vegetarian (at the time). That “eating meat makes you angry”…or something like that.

Some people said it was because I was just “a very nice person”.

Some people said other things that were even sillier.

So, for a long time, strangers kept complimenting me on my utter lack of anger. Meanwhile I got by pretending to be angry whenever it seemed necessary to show some anger. Yet, I couldn’t really feel any anger (and that makes for lousy boundary-setting, I can tell you!).


library membership imageDo you struggle with anger? Keep it in and then blow up? Never feel it? Fear other people’s anger?

The What to do with Anger Class has step-by-step processes to deal with anger in a healthy way. It’s in the Library.


I knew, that deep deep down, there had to be anger in me, somewhere. Yet, like a lot of women, it was MUCH easier for me to feel grief, than it was to feel anger. For a lot of people, “being a woman” pretty much equals not getting angry, right? Anger is a masculine thing, a power thing. When women get angry they are “crazy” or “bitches” (and when men cry they are “sissies” and “wimps”) Boys don’t cry, and nice girls don’t swear. Enough with the gender stereotyping!

So, my anger was in hiding, and I had to seek it out. What do you do when you’re tailing something? You pay attention to little signs. So I started to notice…jaw-clenching, could that be something? Balling my fists automatically? Migraines? (When did I get them, what would be going on?) I also started to pay attention to how I responded when I should be angry. How did I respond when treated badly? When people crossed the line? Which muscles were tensing, how did I feel, what did I do?

So, slowly but surely, I was starting to draw my anger out of hiding. I was letting it know “Is ok, me not angry with you for being angry, you come now” (I was feeling pretty primitive about not being in touch with something as basic as anger).

Little by little, my anger was starting to announce itself. Sometimes in huge flaming bursts, sometimes through nagging irritations. Pretty soon I was at the next step: what to do with it?

Obviously, if you’re in a situation where you have every right to be pissed off, the anger becomes what it is meant to be: an energy putting something in motion. Like a little energy bubble that gets some things moving and then is out and gone, anger can be very constructive and clarifying. However, I was not at that point yet. When my anger showed, it showed WAY out of proportion. There’s no way expressing that would have been beneficial.

I tried kicking things, I tried screaming in a pillow, but in the end, what really helped me move forward was just to feel it, without doing anything with or to it. Without needing it to be anything other than it was.


[ Happy Sensitive Library Members – you can access a detailed class walking you through the HOW of that here ]


It was pretty amazing actually (and still is) those moments where my anger gets triggered and I feel a huge mass of energy boiling and steaming. I’m kinda proud! ‘Look at me, the “nice girl” getting al worked up, pissed off and…getting good at it!’

Ooooh, did I say something spiritually outrageous? As in “Real Guru’s Don’t Glare? -And-We-Need-To-Be-Like -Them”? ..Perhaps…

It al depends on the ‘how’ though. Stored anger will eat away at you. When you are explosive or feel explosive, there tend to be deeper seated issues that need to be dealt with. It has nothing to do with anger being a good or bad thing. Anger is just anger, and as long as it can move through and out there is nothing amiss, per se.

As an additional bonus: for many people, anger is the only boundary-setting thing that will work. You can tell them once, twice, a million times nicely…get angry once and they’ll suddenly “get it”. (You don’t want to smash their head in like…just you know, glare a little while telling them politely)

If you ever want to make it as a loving human being, you need to abstain from anger…or so the familiar story goes. It sounds a lot like that other thing spiritual people are supposed to abstain from (and tend to do anyway). It’s called being human. Welcome to planet earth!


library membership imageHow do you handle anger in a way that doesn’t make you explode inappropriately, but also doesn’t make you implode over time? Discover this and more in the Library.

In the What to do with Anger Class you’ll learn new techniques for handling anger, and we’ll dive a little into the origins of “dysfunctional anger” so you can better understand why anger can be such a very real struggle. 


Oh, and if you need some anger inspiration, be sure to watch these!



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{ 1 comment }

1 Nicole June 5, 2013

Wow, I don’t know where you got this incredible insight and wisdom that took me 43 years, the loss of all of my property, the loss of my right to practice law, the death of my cat (who next to my only child was the most loving, noble being I ever knew), being kicked out on the street with my 2 year old when I had a concussion and bruises on every part of my body from her father whom I was desperately hiding from, but I said something Queen Sister didn’t like and she called the polIce to kick my baby and I out of her half-empty house ( I now assume that was a ruse to go through all my stuff and take what she liked). I required thar bad a final bbackstabbing from my older sister so extreme to forced to let go of hoping someday my sister would actually love and value me. Sad thing is, although we grew up with our super wealthy parents, she did the closest imitation of an actual parent, being a decade older, and in retrospect, she saw the financial advantages of doing the parental work for my negligent parents who were too busy fighting, cheating and traveling to parent me, the last kid. My dad, am extremely successful trial lawyer who came from the dirt, genuinely does not know my birthday and the only interaction he really had with his 4 kids (besides regular physical beatings) was informing us every 5 years what a dissapointment each of us were to him. It boggles my mind how a 5 year old can be a profound dissapointment to a parent: can 5 year olds even add or subtract? What could I have done to merit being relegated to my sister’s child at 5? Cool thing is, if you
look up narcissism in the DSM-IV, their is a picture of my dad and my sister right
there (lol)! So, Rose, don’t feel like a fool for needing 31 years to realize someone you loved would do to you what you wouldn’t do to an enemy. It took me losing almost everything, except my daughter and
I am confident she was my sister’s next victim if our presciois kitty hadn’t laid down his life to force me to see how vile andwant depraved my sister is. Losing my legal career that I spent decades on because she is reckless and selfish didn’t do it, being kicked to the curb with a baby, rheumatoid arthritis, the dad wanting to kill me and kidnap the baby, nowhere to go and mind you, the woman and her 3 kids have been taken care of financiallly, cleaning, driving, care, gifts, trips, cars, etc. for over 2 decades and the one time I needed help, wow. Please ladies, I know we all want a sister we can trust, a best friend, a mommy (mine ased away when I was in law school)but steer so clear of these vindictive narcissists: they will deceive you and decimate you and won’t even bat an eyelash. And you will NEVER fix them. There are lots if wonderful women out there who will be your surrogate mom and/or sister and even more ready to be your best friends. When someone lies, betrays, exploits and abuses you: they willl do it over and over again and youay not be left standing but they will becuase they possess zero conscience and no decency. This applys to men to: married one narcissist andasw a baby with another, but the sister was the blueprint and the most dangerous. I am barely functioningnagain and it’s been a year since she let my indoor cats outside, despite jer 2 dozen promises to me not to, didn’t tell me my angel was missing for 4 critical days b4 telling me and didn’t offer to help me search the woods where I found the only being that I ever loved me. Please let my agony be a lesson to you.

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