Being in Full Integrity, Episode 1: Honoring My Rage
Have you taken the time to truly face your whole self?
And I mean your whole self - including your darkness.
I’ve come to realize that for most of my life, I’ve turned away from many parts of myself. I’ve gone so far as to even try and cut those parts out, and deny them so fully that I thought they surely would disappear. I thought those parts weren’t welcome - weren’t "ideal" (at least in society’s eyes) - which is why I worked so hard to deny those pieces of me.
However, especially in the past year, I realized that I was simply hurting myself by rejecting those pieces of me. And despite me trying my best to cut out and repress those pieces, they never went away - and in fact, would manifest at the worst times in the worst ways in my life. I finally realized I could never live fully in integrity and with flow without connecting with those pieces and actually acknowledging them.
For this series, "Being in Full Integrity," I want to reflect on these pieces that I used to hate, be ashamed of, and deny - but now am connected to and in some cases, even friends with. For this first episode, I’d like to spotlight my rage.
When I say rage, I don’t just mean anger. I mean, all-consuming, primordial rage. The kind of rage that most people recoil from and hide from because it has such destructive potential.
This rage has been a constant companion all my life. As a child, I actually felt acute rage at many things and situations, and this continued into adulthood. Of course, I would never have admitted that to you. Growing up, I took cues from society, my family, and my friends:
From society, I gathered that rage was completely inappropriate and unwelcome (especially as a woman), and only the basest and most backward human beings would ever explode in a rage or even feel rage.
From my family, who brought me up with very traditional Chinese values, I learned that rage broke the harmony of a group, so it was never OK to express any kind of rage or anger since it was of the utmost importance to preserve harmony.
From my peers and friends, I realized that rage caused estrangement, so unless you wanted to be an outcast, you’d better not express rage, ever.
So, with all these signals indicating to me that rage was a "bad thing," I did my very best to repress it and cut it out. I worked extra hard my whole life to make myself be "nice." I faked happiness, and I faked being cordial, and I prioritized harmony. If I ever felt any flashes of rage or anger that escaped my repressive hold, I did my best to stamp it out and ignore it and move on.
Externally, it seemed like I became pretty successful at hiding my rage - most of my coworkers always said things like, "I could never imagine you getting mad at anything."
Internally, however, it continued to get harder and harder to ignore this part of me. Repressing my rage and refusing to look at it added an extra mental and emotional toll that continued to build up over time.
Over this past year, I finally realized how futile it was to keep running from my rage, and, in fact, how important that rage is for me. Yes, if I let my rage get out of hand, it could be destructive, so discernment and judgment in how I act is still required. (To be extra clear: I’m not advocating people allow their rage to blindly run their lives; that’s just foolishness.) However, if I actually sit with my rage in a safe space - if I touch it, if I listen to it, and especially, if I can honor it - I’ve found it shows me very important things that allow me to live more fully in integrity.
For example, my rage lets me know if I feel like someone is crossing a boundary that I’m not ok with. Previously, when I tamped my rage down, I would let people walk all over me, and I constantly felt drained and resentful (and now I see it’s because I had no idea what my own boundaries were). Now, I set clear expectations and boundaries, I know when to negotiate, and when to walk away from certain situations instead of feeling obligated to stay in situations just to be "nice."
After I started getting in touch with my rage, I started feeling a lot better. First, I felt relief that I could finally acknowledge this authentic part of myself (that was never going to go away, anyway). Second, I felt better partnering with this part of me to hear what it had to say, and then be able to use its insights to make choices and decisions that felt more resonant for me. Third, I found that by connecting with my rage honestly, it’s become a lot easier to take constructive (instead of destructive and/or reactive) action whenever I do feel it come up.
If you’re interested in really facing all of yourself, it can be helpful for you to get support while doing so. You need a balance of being able to have a safe space to explore all those different pieces of you in order to connect with them and listen to them, and you also need clear and grounded honesty about exactly what those parts look like. I am able to help in this regard: I am extremely familiar with the various shadows and "ugly pieces" that we all try to hide or run away from. I can both hold a safe space for you to explore all parts of yourself, and also honestly call you out on your bullsh*t when you’re hiding from facing an important part of you. You can reach out to me if you’re curious to learn more about how we could work together to support you in being in full integrity.