The ever-growing global crisis, world strife, health, economic and job struggles, can certainly remind us that there are tons of reasons to be angry right now. Increased division and polarization, and threats both real and perceived, seem to have ratcheted up a lot of rage in a lot of people. Entering Tevet and our darkest days of the annual cycle, we might feel especially resistant to being present with our thoughts, frustrations, and anger (I know I am). I suspect that thinking about “opportunities to grow” and “exploring my dark side” is a challenge made even harder after more than a year of living with the pandemic.
Anger is a particularly challenging emotion for us women-identified folk, anyway. At least in the dominant culture of North America, those seen as women are shamed and shunned for having or expressing anger. The negative image around anger is even more enforced for Women of Color and meanwhile, anger and happiness are the only emotions that those perceived as male are allowed to safely express.
Clearly, there are harmful elements to anger. When anger causes us to hurt others or hurt ourselves, it is crucial to work on addressing what arises and working to reduce and manage that fiery rage within. Fire, out of control, burns everything in its path. Causing harm is never okay.
And yet, we need fire. The element of fire is necessary – we cannot survive without it. Like fire, anger isn’t always bad or wrong. Anger is at the heart of our Jewish passion for Tzedakah, Justice. Our anger can signify awareness of oppression, suffering, and unfair treatment of others – or of ourselves! Anger can shine a light on areas where we are deeply wounded and afraid to be vulnerable. Anger can be what we express when what we really want is love.
This season, maybe we can try not being down on ourselves for our angry parts. Instead, we can take our anger in hand and welcome the wild, fierce, rising-up woman inside of us who has something to say. Maybe, we can give her some space to say it.
We often use music to calm and soothe, but music can also help us feel our anger, and be a safe way to express it! (Listening to loud hip hop, industrial or EDM while cleaning house is one of my favorite ways to move through some rage).
For your Tevet circle, think of a song or artist who you listen to when you’re angry. Who speaks those feelings for you? What helps you to express those feelings?
Bring that music to your circle. You can play a little of it, sing or speak some of the lyrics, or just talk about how it makes you feel. Celebrate the strength, feelings, and sense of justice that you share as a group.