What Do We Do With Our Anger?

Do we repress it?

We all recognize that simply burying our anger is not good. We all tend to do it, because it seems to make life go smoother, but who of us really thinks it’s the right thing to do? Burying it actually is an affirmation of its power. It says, “This is so big and ugly and horrible that I just can’t look at it or deal with it.”

Do we express it?

In reaction to the old idea that we should stuff our anger, it has become popular to believe that expressing anger is the answer, that doing so expels its energy or is a healthy example of drawing our boundaries or being real. The Course does not advocate repressing or expressing our anger. Why? Because both are attempts to deal with an emotion–which is of the mind–through behavior. The following passages from the Course deal with the uselessness of healing anger through our behavior:

“It is pointless to believe that controlling the outcome of misthought can result in healing. When you are fearful, you have chosen wrongly. That is why you feel responsible for it. You must change your mind, not your behavior, and this is a matter of willingness. You do not need guidance except at the mind level. Correction belongs only at the level where change is possible. Change does not mean anything at the symptom level, where it cannot work.” (T-2.VI.3:17) “I have said that you cannot change your mind by changing your behavior.” (T-4.IV.2:1)

We observe it calmly, dispassionately…

From the Text

“Let it [lack of faith in your brother] enter and look upon it calmly, but do not use it.” (T-17.VII.5:4) “Let us, then, look upon them [the ego’s laws] calmly, that we may look beyond them.” (T-23.II.1:34) “Look calmly at the logical conclusion of the ego’s thought system and judge whether its offering is really what you want.” (T-10.III.5:1)

From the Workbook

“Watch [your egoic thoughts and feelings] come and go as dispassionately as possible.” (W-pI.31.3:3) “You might imagine that you are watching an oddly assorted procession going by, which has little if any personal meaning to you.” (W-pI.10.4:6) “Survey your inner thoughts with equal casualness.” (W-pI.33.2:1)

…and choose a miracle instead

“When the temptation to attack rises to make your mind darkened and murderous, remember you can see the battle from above….There is a stab of pain, a twinge of guilt, and above all, a loss of peace. This you know well. When they occur leave not your place on high, but quickly choose a miracle instead of murder. And God Himself and all the lights of Heaven will gently lean to you, and hold you up. For you have chosen to remain where He would have you, and no illusion can attack the peace of God together with His Son.” (T-23.IV.6)


[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]