Episode 107: Anger

Uncategorized Jan 30, 2023

Growing up, we receive the message that anger is bad and we should avoid it at all costs. But if you know what we do here, we’re all about neutralizing emotions in the name of healing. So, in this episode, we’re redefining how we look at anger and how best to deal with it.

What happens when we resist anger? You might be able to do this for a while, but inevitably you end up either exploding in anger, or it slowly turns into hopelessness. So, if you’ve been trying to resist or ignore those moments when you’re angry, or feeling any strong emotion, this episode will allow you to take a far more productive approach.

Tune in this week to discover what your anger is trying to tell you, and how to keep the focus on yourself as you work through anger that relates to other people. I’m sharing some stories from my own life about anger, why anger is just a package, and how to start unpacking your anger in a way that helps you let it go.


If you’re ready to do this work and start practicing unconditional commitment toward quitting your porn habit, sign up to work with me! 


What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why, if we resist anger, we either explode or it turns into hopelessness.
  • How to see where you’re resisting or repressing your anger, or any other emotion.
  • Some of the things that make me angry, and how my approach to anger has changed over the years.
  • What anger is there to tell us, and why experiencing anger doesn’t have to be a problem.
  • How to understand your feelings of anger when they come up and approach them in a productive way.


Featured on the Show:


Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast episode 107, Anger.

Welcome to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast, the show that will teach you how to stop viewing pornography and never go back to it. If you want to learn how to train your brain out of a pornography habit, completely shame-free, then this is the show for you. I’m your host Sara Brewer, a certified life and faith-based coach.

Hey, everyone. I'm so excited for this podcast. I just can't wait to dive into this content, this topic on anger. This is a topic that has honestly been years in the making for me. I have done so much of my own personal work around this. And this is something I could talk about for a really long time, a lot longer than one episode.

So we'll get in what we can. And follow-up questions, I'll have you guys send them to my email, and maybe we'll do another episode on anger. Before we dive in, I just want to say thank you guys so much for all the reviews that you're leaving me here on the podcast. Maybe we'll do another episode on anger.

Before we dive in, I just want to say thank you guys so much for all the reviews that you're leaving me here on the podcast. We're just seeing so many fun wins. And I love being in the program and doing our weekly group calls.

And we share wins at the beginning of each of those calls, and it's one of my favorite parts of the week just to hear how everyone's doing. And we have people in there that are like, “I'm not even struggling with porn. And I do have a question on this one thing. Can you help me with it? This has really given me my life back.”

And it's just so exciting and so fun. And I love getting to be here to witness this. One of my coaches, Tina, and I talk about her all the time, and we need to have her on the podcast again because she has some great stuff to share with us. She is brilliant and wise and an amazing coach. And she has some spots for one on one opening up soon that, if you're interested in, you can go and join the waitlist. We'll be opening those up next month.

But she said to me, we were talking this week, she's like, “I just get off my calls, and I just can't help but think we are in such sacred, sacred space.” And I said, “I know. I know the feeling you're talking about exactly.” Sometimes people, and sorry if I'm repeating myself here, I might have said this in other podcast episodes.

But sometimes people find out what I do, and they're like, “Oh, that sounds heavy. Is that hard? Do you get burned out pretty quickly?” And I'm like, “No, I don't. I am invigorated by this.” Like Tina said, this is a sacred space that is full of goodness, hope, beauty, and love and is not anything that burns me out at all.

And I used to work in residential treatment centers for teenagers. And that was not the right work for me. And so I know what it is like to experience burnout very quickly and to feel a little bit like, oh my gosh, how do I even help you? That’s what that work felt like to me, but this doesn't feel like that at all. So I love it. Thank you for the reviews you're sharing.

And adding to the podcast, I want to share this one that I did get recently. It says, “As a spouse experiencing the betrayal trauma,” so as the spouse of someone who's struggling with porn and having experienced some betrayal trauma from this is what they're saying. “I can honestly say these tools of mindfulness, when combined with radical honesty and accountability, have helped create a deeper intimacy within my marriage than I've ever felt.

Months ago, my emotional dysregulation was surely unbearable for my husband. But I'm so grateful that with these tools, he's been able to hold space for my emotions while I find my bearings.” I love that she says that because this is one thing that we talk about often in the program, and I think on the podcast a little bit, is when you can learn to do this stuff for yourself, you really can learn to do it for your spouse, for anyone else who is struggling, without getting stuck in the shame blame traps.

This is what people mean when they say working on yourself is really helping other people, too. It's not selfish. It's not selfish. The more you better yourself, the more you gain these skills of this emotional regulation, and the more you can truly, truly help other people.

Anyways, we’re going to keep going. They also go on to say, “We are finally in a place of rebuilding a foundation of trust that I never thought possible after discovering my husband's porn use. I can see the change in him in all aspects of his life for the better. He's a more patient and involved husband and father and has been able to feel a strong connection to God that he hasn't felt in over a decade.”

I love this part too. I know not everyone who listens to this is religious, and I want to make that clear, our program is very, very inclusive. And we're trying to make it more inclusive every day and every month to make it a place for people despite whatever religious beliefs they have. But many people who do listen are Christian or religious in some aspect, and their relationship with God is important.

And this is something that I don't think I've taught this in a while. Maybe I should have another podcast episode on this. But I do have like a whole section in the program where we talk about shame in spirituality and how to really start to find that deep connection with God again. And guess what? We do that by just chilling out and not trying to prove our worthiness so much.

Anyways, like I said, I could talk about that forever. But I love that. Yeah, like as we heal, as we find ourselves, as we learn these skills, your relationship with the divine, with a higher power, deepens as well.

She goes on to say, “You've given me a better understanding and desire for compassion and hope for a life free of the pain porn has caused both of us. Thank you for what you're doing.” So thank you so much for sharing that. I really, really appreciate that. I love that.

And I want to say thank you to all of you who have left me reviews. We're growing pretty quickly, and I'm getting tons of requests for being podcast guests or being on panels. I'm speaking at a conference this next week here in Utah, and just lots of opportunities for me to speak and share my message to the point where I'm like, I need to find a little bit of a way for me to filter some of these because I just don't have time to do all of it. So that's really fun.

And I appreciate you guys leaving these reviews and following my work and changing your lives. And just being a part of this whole thing. It's just so fun. So with that, let me just say, if you have been listening for a while, you're ready to dive in and really do a bunch of the work, we're open. Overcome Pornography for Good is open.

In the past, we've had open enrollment periods and then had it closed. But now we're open anytime. So anytime that you feel called to come in and join us, you can come and do that. Sarabrewer.com/workwithme. You get more one-on-one access with me and all the coaches in the program, anyways, all the good stuff.

Now let's talk about anger, okay? Anger, anger, anger, anger. I want to start to redefine how we look at anger. And this isn't going to surprise you. If you’ve followed my work and you know what I talk about, you know we neutralize emotions, and we don't demonize emotions. But we're going to do that with anger, too, okay?

So many of us received the message growing up anger is bad. Don't feel anger. Anger is bad. Avoid anger at all costs. But you know us. You know what we do here. We neutralize everything in the name of healing and in the name of finding out the wisdom in our bodies, and in the name of not resisting and exploding, right?

Because what happens when we resist anger? This is just like that beach ball example some of you have heard me use. When you resist anger, it's like holding a beach ball underwater. And what happens when we hold a beach ball underwater? Pew, it explodes, right? It pops up. And you just explode.

I had a very clear experience of this happening to me this last week. Someone who has been holding in anger for me for a long time and kind of resisting it and trying their best not to show it. But one little thing happens, and it just explodes, right? And then that's when it's even worse than if we weren't resisting it.

I have, of course, done this tons of times in my life. I think about when I had my second baby, and I was brand new. And there were so many hormones and some postpartum depression and all this stuff happening. And I remember something happening, and I was just like pissed. I was like, “Don't be angry. Don't be angry. Don't be angry. Don't be angry.” And then I just lost it, right?

I stormed up the stairs like I was yelling something, and it wasn't even making sense. I remember when I was saying it, I was like, this is literal crap. This doesn't make any sense. Like storming up the stairs and yelling something just because I was really resisting that anger. So when we resist anger, not only does it explode, but also oftentimes it'll turn into hopelessness.

So sometimes, it explodes. Sometimes it turns into hopelessness. And jeez, does anything feel worse than hopelessness? I don't know. Shame and hopelessness are some of the worst emotions to live from that are just excruciating. And then hopelessness often turns into resentment and bubbles into resentment.

These are the things that happen when we resist anger. This is very similar to sexual urges, right? A lot of people say sexual urges are bad, don't feel them. Ignore them. Resist them. And they're doing it from a good place because they also don't want us just to act out on sexual urges like crazy and do whatever we want and hurt people, right?

It's the same with anger. People are saying don't feel anger because they don't want us to have those big explosions and to act from anger without thinking, right? But there's a much better way to go about this, and that's kind of what we're going to talk about today.

We don't have to resist anger. So I love Glennon Doyle's book, Untamed. I know not everyone loves it. But I loved it. And one thing that she taught me in this book is that anger is a package. That's all it is. When you feel angry, you can just think about it like someone's coming to your door and leaving a package. Ringing the doorbell leaving a package. And what anger delivers to us is it delivers our boundaries. And our boundaries deliver our beliefs.

Okay, so let me give a number of examples here. For example, I have always felt anger about women being excluded because of their gender. One thing that's really relevant right now that triggers that anger is the horrible Taliban education ban. Recently the Taliban banned women from going and getting an education.

So women are not allowed in universities, they are not allowed to teach universities, they're not even allowed to attend. Just because they're girls, whatever their beliefs are about women, they have forbidden them and banned them from getting an education.

That makes me so sad and so angry. I think most people would agree with me that that's pretty horrible. That’s a pretty horrible attack on women and women's rights, right? And that's a big example, but this belief and this anger for me has shown up in lots of areas of my life.

When I was young, being excluded because I was a girl. And as I grew up and just cultural or religious things around me where because you're a woman, you are excluded from certain things. That's always been something that's really made me angry.

What I used to do with that is I used to repress it. I used to say, “You know what? That anger is bad. I shouldn't be feeling this. I don't want to explode at people. I don't want to become one of those angry women that people always attack.”

But what I've learned is that all that anger is doing, it's a package showing up to my door, right? Ringing the doorbell, it's a package. It's telling me that my boundary is that I'm not okay with being excluded because of my gender. I'm not okay with being excluded from things because I wasn't born with a penis, to be very frank.

And that boundary is telling me that my belief, one of my core beliefs, is that women shouldn't be excluded because of their gender. So now that I see that, now that I know that I don't want to change those beliefs, I'm not going to resist that anger anymore. I'm not going to act out on it and start screaming at people. But now I can turn that anger into passion and make life decisions while recognizing that that's a belief and a boundary that I want to keep.

So what I do is like now I get to make decisions, what am I going to do for my daughter to help my daughter, and to teach my daughter, and to empower my daughter? You know, when she's in this world where there are a lot of beliefs about women and stuff going on, how can I help my daughter? What can I do for my daughter? What am I okay with allowing into my life? How am I going to help other women? What can I do about this Taliban education ban?

You know, I can turn this anger into passion and research, donate my money, and donate my time. And whatever it is that I can actually do to help, I can actually do that. Because what happens when we resist our anger is we don't do anything. We don't do anything to help the causes that are important to us. So we don't want to do that.

Repressing our anger doesn't allow us to make the world a better place. But also, right, just freaking out and being very reactive to our anger also doesn't help us make the world a better place. When we look at that anger as it's telling us our boundaries and it's telling us our beliefs, okay, now we can turn this into a passion to create the change and to create the life that we want to have.

Now, sometimes, anger delivers a belief that I don't want to keep. And I learned this from Glennon Doyle, too. And I'll share her example that she gives in her book here in a minute. But an example in my life is I remember once I was cleaning my bathroom, and I had just cleaned my bathroom really well. It looked so good. It felt so nice. And I went into the kid’s bathroom and started cleaning the kid’s bathroom.

So for those of you who are new here, I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old. And they're so cute. And they’re also so messy. They are squishy and lovable, and I love their guts. And they're also exhausting, hard, and messy. And so I remember I had cleaned my bathroom, it looked so nice. I went into the kid’s bathroom to clean their bathroom, and when I came back, the kids had been making a potion in my bathroom.

And so they had been taking all my shampoo and my soaps, and they climbed into all the counters and cabinets and pulled out all the gel and the toothpaste, and they were making potions on the counter and in the sink. And they were having a blast, and they were so fun.

And I got so mad. I had all these thoughts come up like, are you kidding me? I hate this. Kids are so exhausting. This is going to take so much work. I'm so exhausted already. It must be nice to be a kid and just do whatever the heck they want without having to think about the mess. And you're just like so upset.

Okay, so that anger that I felt at that moment, it's just like a package being delivered to my door. This package is telling me that my beliefs are kids shouldn't be messy and that my house shouldn't be messy. And that I have to be the one to clean. Those are just three beliefs that came to my mind, right? Kids shouldn't be messy, my house shouldn't be messy, and I have to be the one to clean.

Now, as I look at those beliefs and I look at that package, I'm not sure if I want to keep those beliefs. I'm not sure if I want to hold on to that. I’m not sure if that's actually a belief or a package that I want to keep.

Glennon Doyle, so this quote is from her book Untamed. She says, “Anger rings our bell and delivers one of our root beliefs. This is good information. But the next part is more than informative; it's transformational. All of those beliefs that anger delivers come with a return label. There is a sticker on the package that says here is one of your root beliefs. Would you like to keep, return, or exchange this one?”

So I looked at this belief, kids shouldn't make messes, my house shouldn't be messy, and I'm always the one to clean. I’m like, you know what? I think I want to return that one. This is where all that belief work comes in that we talked about a lot on the last podcast, that we do in-depth in the program, right? What am I going to work to do? And what do I want my belief to be instead? How am I going to change these beliefs?

You know, in doing some work, kids make messes, and that's okay. And maybe that's not a problem. Maybe it's not a problem that this is a mess. Maybe it's not a problem that my house is messy. Maybe it's not a problem that there's soap, gel, and toothpaste in the sink. And maybe I don't have to be the one to take care of this.

Maybe there are some conversations I can have with my husband about redistributing the division of labor in our home. Maybe we can use some of our funds to hire someone to come and clean once a week. I don't know, whatever that is, I don't have to keep this belief that I am always the one who has to clean up messes. That's what's creating the anger, is that belief, and I think I want to return that one.

Anger. Instead of asking ourselves what is my anger telling me about that person, we want to ask what is my anger telling me about me. What is my anger telling me about me and what I want, what my beliefs are, and what my boundaries are? Instead of what is my anger telling me about them, right? Because that gets, you know, they're lazy, they don't care, they're selfish, right? We don't want to get into that. We want to keep it focused on ourselves.

One other example, Glennon gives us a story of her partner, her getting really upset when she sees her partner relaxing on the couch in the middle of the day. In the middle of a weekday, her partner is just lying down, kind of watching TV. She said one day, she talked about how she would always get angry, and they would get in fights about it, and she would get resentful and all this stuff.

And she said, “One day, I walked into our family room and saw Abby jump off the couch and begin straightening pillows, trying to look busy and productive for my sake. I stopped in my tracks and stared at her while a memory from childhood floated into my mind.

When I was young, if I was home relaxing on the couch and I heard my parents’ car pull up in the driveway, I’d panic, jump off the couch, and try to look busy before they opened the door. Exactly like I just saw Abby do.

That's when I stopped looking at Abby and thinking, what is my anger telling me about her, right? She's lazy, she shouldn't be sitting down, or whatever that is, and started asking what is my anger telling me about me. My anger was delivering a package with one of my root beliefs in it. A belief that was programmed into me during childhood, resting is laziness. And laziness is disrespect. Worthiness and goodness are earned with hustle.”

She goes on to say how she wants to change that belief. She doesn't want to keep and hold onto this belief that in order to be worthy, you have to hustle. She goes on to say hard work is important, but so are play and non-productivity. My worth is not tied to my productivity but to my existence. I am worthy of rest.

And then she says, “Changing my root belief about worthiness has changed my life. I'll sleep a little bit later. I schedule in time for reading and walks, and yoga. And sometimes, on the weekend, I even watch a TV show in the middle of the day. It's heavenly.

It's also an ongoing process. Still, when I see Abby relaxing, my knee-jerk reaction is annoyance. But then I check myself. I think, why am I activated here? Oh, yes, that old belief. Oh, wait, never mind, I've exchanged that one. I've sent it back. Anger delivers our boundaries to us. Our boundaries deliver our beliefs to us. Our beliefs determine how we experience the world, so even though it can be scary, we'd be wise to answer the door.”

This comes up in coaching sessions often. Recently, I had a client who was sharing how angry he was because he was staying at his brother's house. And I don't remember all the details, and I wouldn't share all the details here on the podcast anyways. But he was staying at his brother's house, and his brother was saying some things that were pretty disrespectful and pretty shame-inducing and not what he believed at all. And he was so angry at him.

And he was like, “How can I not be angry?” And I was like, well, first, let's look at what this anger is telling you. The anger was delivering a boundary to him, that he is not okay with shame talk anymore. He's not okay with shame being a motivator in his life anymore. And that he's not okay with being spoken to in that way.

His belief is that shame doesn't help me, and there's no place for it in my life. Okay, so with that information, we don't need to just not be angry. Let's take a look at this information. What do we need to do with this information? Is this a belief you want to keep? He said, “Yeah, this is actually a belief I want to keep. It's really helped my life a lot.” Okay, so then what boundaries do we need to put in place? What do we need to do?

And I can't remember exactly what we decided, but he was either going to have a talk with his brother or move out if his brother wasn't going to speak to him differently. And that sounds very healthy. Just trying to ignore the anger is not healthy. What's healthy is looking at what that is telling you and then making decisions so that you can live your most whole and worthy life, okay?

Another example that comes up is clients who are angry because their spouse won't have sex with them. So, we can look at that. What is that package delivering? It's delivering this belief that my spouse is supposed to fulfill all of my sexual needs. And that's a very common thing that many people were taught, especially for more religious backgrounds. We're taught that our spouse is supposed to fulfill all of our sexual needs.

So, looking at that, we can keep that if we want to, or we can start to question it. Is that a belief we want to keep? Is that a belief that's serving our life? Or is that something that maybe it's worth questioning a little bit? This is a whole episode that I think I'm going to invite; I have a few acquaintances that are sex coaches. Christian sex coaches that I'll invite on to have this discussion with.

It's not either my spouse is supposed to fill all my sexual needs, or I have to go out and have an open relationship and view porn and all these things. There's a lot more that we can do here. But maybe we can start to question this belief if we don't want to hold on to it.

Is there another way that I can have my sexual needs fulfilled without acting outside of my value system? Or is it possible that this is all mine? That my sexuality and my sexual needs are my responsibility, and it's not her fault, and it's not her responsibility. Okay, you’re just going to start opening your mind up to some of that.

And I, like I said, I'm going to have my friend, who's a Christian sex coach, come in and talk to us more about this so that we can start rewriting these beliefs if they're not serving us. But the anger in these situations is typically coming from this belief of my spouse won’t have sex with me. Angry because my belief is that my spouse is supposed to fulfill all my sexual needs, or I feel powerless in getting these needs fulfilled, or whatever.

And there are some ways that we can start looking at that to change and create a better life instead of just trying to repress the anger. No, I shouldn't be angry. I shouldn't be angry. I shouldn't be angry, right? If you're doing that, but you're not actually looking at the beliefs and the belief systems behind that belief, you're going to resist it, it's going to explode, there's going to be a lot of resentment, okay.

We are not demonizing or repressing anger anymore. And we aren't lashing out in that moment of anger anymore. This is just like I've taught you to do with sexual urges. When we're feeling that sexual urge, we're not repressing it, and we're not just acting out on it, doing whatever we want. We’re being introspective. We’re looking at it. We're doing the brave, hard work of breathing into it, deciding if we want to hold onto that or let it go.

Sometimes to do this work, you have to be very brave. I think about my anger about women not getting equal opportunities because of their gender. Looking at that, instead of just repressing, it has required me to do hard things. It's required me to say no to cultural norms around me. I'm not okay with this. I'm not okay with participating in this system. It's required me to push for more fairness in my marriage.

And my husband is the salt of the earth. He is. I just adore him. He is amazing. And he has been so, so kind and supportive and really worked with me to create more of a fair marriage and one that isn't just you do all these things because you're the woman, which was kind of ingrained in us.

So pushing for that was very uncomfortable. More uncomfortable than just sitting back and being like, I should just be fine with everything and just not be angry. But on the other side of all of that discomfort has been a partnership marriage, a beautiful marriage. I feel very empowered to create what I want in my life. And I feel very empowered to create change in ways that are important to me. To advocate for women when I see them being treated unfairly.

That's all important stuff to me that I'm really grateful that my anger showed me, that my anger delivered to me. It's important to notice that; what's the quote? I heard this recently, “Anger is a great little signal, but it's not a great partner.” It's not a great life partner. You don't want it to stick around forever. But we also need to be willing to open the door, look at those packages, look at what it's telling you, and then decide if those boundaries and those beliefs are something that we want to keep.

Sometimes they are sometimes they aren't. This is the hard work of it all, okay? But we're not demonizing or repressing anger anymore. All that's going to do is it's going to lead to resentment, hopelessness, and acting out. Acting out in ways that don't align with your values. We're going to be a lot more thoughtful about it and do the hard work.

You know, I think, too, buffering. A lot of buffering happens when people repress their anger, over drinking, overeating, and pornography. So my thoughts on anger, I don't typically offer this, but if you have any follow-up questions about this topic today, you can send them to [email protected] If we get a number of follow-up questions or some good questions that we want to talk about, I'll do a follow-up episode on anger. I'll have my assistant just hold on to those for me.

Now, this isn't an invitation to, “I disagree with this and this and this and this and this and this and this.” Okay? We're not going to open those and listen to those. So if you do have follow-up questions or want me to clarify and ask in a respectful manner, absolutely, [email protected] We're not open to attacks of criticism, which I don't think any of you would do anyways, but I am going to say it. Okay.

All right, you guys, have a great week. We'll talk to you next week. Bye-bye.

I want to invite you to come and listen to my free class, How To Overcome Pornography For Good Without Using Willpower. We talk about how to stop giving in to urges without pure willpower or relying on phone filters so that you can actually stop wanting pornography.

We talk about how to stop giving up after a few weeks or months. And spoiler alert, the answer isn't have more willpower. And then lastly, we talk about how to make a life without porn easily sustainable and permanent.

If you're trying to quit porn, this class is a game changer. So you can go and sign up at Sarabrewer.com/masterclass, and it is totally free.

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