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Is Anger an Emotion or Feeling?
In this letter, I’ll explain:
The difference between anger & emotions
The difference between understanding & comprehension
The difference between managing & processing anger.
For the first time in a decade, I can say that I am angry.
Not just a fleeting emotion. Emotions are energy in motion.
This is not in motion. This is sitting, building, and brewing.
Writing is the best solution for organizing chaos, IMO.
Post-writing, it will be a heavy bag.
It’s incredible how much work you can do then overnight, in a single moment, all of it seemingly dissipates.
But did all that work just disappear?
Of course it didn’t, but it sure does feel like it.
This, by definition, is Jungian Shadow work.
Carl Jung's "shadow work" refers to the process of exploring and integrating the "shadow" aspect of one's psyche.
The shadow, a concept introduced by the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, represents the unconscious, repressed, or disowned parts of oneself.
These can include negative traits, emotions, desires, and instincts that we may consider unacceptable or that don’t align with our conscious self-image or societal expectations.
It involves acknowledging, understanding, and embracing these hidden aspects of ourselves and healing any associated emotional wounds.
That’s all I will say about Shadow work.
I am not one to sit and sulk in the Shadows.
For one, I spent the first 23 years of my life in the Shadow.
People can get stuck here through all the “work,” i.e., plant medicines, retreats, learning, and unlearning.
Becoming masochist of suffering, as in “the next hard thing,” will absolve you of your pain.
Plot twist, dance in the shadow and become friends. The moment the light turns on, the shadows are gone.
So if you want to dance with the lights off, then by all means, be my guest.
But I’m telling you, seeing the beauty of the world around you, the beauty in people, is far more enjoyable.
Now back to this feeling…or emotion of anger, which is it
Is Anger a Feeling or Emotion?
Anger is both a feeling and an emotion.
Let’s dig deeper and define this; defining our words is paramount for understanding AND comprehending.
Note* understanding and comprehending are NOT the same.
You need to question everything in order to have a deeper understanding.
Understanding means knowing what something means or why it’s important.
It's like having a clear picture in your mind about an idea or situation.
Comprehending is when you can make sense of information, like reading a story or listening to someone talk.
Both understanding and comprehending help us learn and make sense of things, but understanding usually means we know something more deeply.
The terms "feeling" and "emotion" are often used interchangeably, but they can have subtle differences depending on the context.
Emotion is a complex psychological state involving a subjective experience, a physiological response, and a behavioral or expressive response.
Emotions are usually triggered by external or internal events and can be categorized into basic emotions, such as happiness, sadness, fear, and anger.
Feeling, on the other hand, typically refers to the subjective experience or conscious awareness of emotion.
Feelings arise from our interpretation of emotional reactions and are the internal, personal aspect of emotions that we perceive and describe.
In the case of anger, it can be viewed as an emotion when considering the broader psychological state, including physiological and behavioral components.
When focusing on the subjective experience of anger, it is referred to as a feeling.
Do you understand?
Great, let’s continue.
The question is, how do you manage anger?
Spoiler alert, you DON’T MANAGE ANGER.
You PROCESS it.
I was 7 years old when I realized this when I was admitted to “anger management.”
What a fucking joke, I thought to myself as this lady was speaking to me.
My anger came from an early age.
Likely due to my father, an incredibly loving man who never physically abused me.
However, didn’t hold back when I acted out.
As an Arab immigrant born in the 1950s, he had a different philosophy.
One I do not adopt, but one I am incredibly grateful for having experienced.
On the other hand, when my parents divorced at 7, the rage amplified.
A natural occurrence, I suppose, when you are incapable of making sense of things.
Later, I would go on to have a 6’7, 300+ lb abusive stepfather.
Physically and mentally.
I remember him chasing me down and tackling me once. I was helpless.
I told myself that would never happen again.
This was when I got into wrestling.
Which would shape the rest of my life, still to this day.
I competed in wrestling & martial arts for 24 years.
I got into jujitsu when I was 18 and fought MMA professionally for 5 years.
I enjoyed hurting people…
Warning* This gets aggressive but will all tie together in processing anger.
Something about the feeling of knowing that this type of behavior was permitted and the only thing in the way of me not killing my opponent was a person in a white and black striped shirt and a bell.
Talk about animalistic…like a dog hearing the bell go off for food.
The moment that buzzer/bell/whistle went off, it meant:
“Destroy what was in front me and do not stop until the sound goes off again or you will be the one destroyed.”
Many people channel their anger into sports, but I am telling you, nothing compares to being permitted to physically put your hands on someone and submit them.
Understand that wrestling is not about hurting the opponent but rather submitting them.
My philosophy started before I even knew it.
The most significant philosophers of all times were wrestlers Socrates, Plato, and countless others.
Plato’s name, which means "broad" or "wide," is believed to have been derived from his broad shoulders or success in wrestling.
Physical training and athleticism were highly valued in ancient Greek culture.
Because it was discipline over mind and body.
Jujitsu is the advancement of wrestling.
Wrestling is about pressure. Ask any wrestler, and they will tell you.
Pressure, pressure, PRESSURE until you fucking break them.
Spotting a wrestler in public is easy.
Jujitsu is the opposite.
Pressure in jujitsu is the fastest ticket to being put to sleep, and it happens within seconds.
In wrestling, you NEVER want to expose your back to the ground.
In jujitsu, you NEVER want to expose your belly to the ground.
Jujitsu requires energy preservation to make calculated decisions (the opposite of pressure).
It’s literally somatic chess.
I have to remain calm to bait my opponent into making the mistake that I want them to make 5 moves from now so that I can rip his fucking arm off his body.
Jujitsu is an entirely different game.
I’m allowed to choke you. I can manipulate your body and contort it into excruciating pain until you submit.
And if you don’t, bones break, and the lights go out. Plain and simple.
And yes, it’s happened.
Because it was permitted and the opponent knew the name of the game.
MMA is the pinnacle of martial arts, in my opinion.
It’s literally called “Mixed Martial Arts.”
Now I can kick you in the head.
You are put into a cage (not a wrestling mat), but a fucking cage, and they lock it…
The bell goes off, and now you must account for 100s of possibilities in seconds.
Precision matters more than ever.
And precision does not happen without COMPOSURE.
Composure is the skeleton key to processing anger.
I could be angry in wrestling because the goal is to apply pressure.
However, the best wrestlers were still composed.
I didn’t learn this until Highschool, until then, I just fucking attacked.
Composure applies across the board to ALL martial arts.
When we are composed, we can think clearly.
And I do not think I would have obtained this ability without martial arts.
Martial arts humbled me; nothing is more humbling than being choked, the lights dimming, and vision narrowing as death creeps over you…
A rear naked choke is a physical manifestation of meeting the Grim Reaper.
You don’t know humility until you have to submit to death (this is why plant medicines can be so profound).
Understand that the ability to remain composed but still fully feel and process anger is a fucking superpower.
It enables you to make logical decisions with precision while under pressure.
This, ultimately, could mean life or death one day.
“Anger is the destroyer of logic.”
Unfortunately, many have it backward.
They believe that being angry, raising your voice, and acting out is a flex.
It shows those around you “how big and tough you are.”
And then some believe that if one does not become angry, he is a harmless man.
Being capable of aggression or force but choosing to control and use it responsibly is a sign of strength and virtue.
"A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very, very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control."
This quote emphasizes that a "good man" is someone who has the capacity to be dangerous or forceful but exercises restraint and self-control.
This is why the great philosophers put wrestling on a pedestal.
In Peterson's view, true strength and moral character come from acknowledging one's power and potential for aggression while choosing to use it responsibly and ethically.
The ability to "flip the switch" implies that the individual can tap into their strength when necessary but does so with intention and self-discipline.
You can do all the work you want.
Do the plant medicine.
Do the workshops.
It doesn’t matter.
You are not exempt.
It will surface again one way or another.
The metric for the efficacy of the work is how soon you can come back to baseline without suppressing the emotion or feelings.