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The Important Thing We Need to Know About Anger

Recently I took my kids, ages 9 and 7, to try out a karate class. When their friend came over the other day and they decided to show off some moves, my daughter and son got into a heated debate about the correct way to punch.

She thought she was right – “It goes like this!” – and he thought he had it correct – “No! You’re wrong!” – and it escalated.

I bet you can guess where this is going…

The anger got the best of my daughter, and she gave my son a pretty solid punch to the gut. I had her go up to her room and wait for me to talk to her in private, since the friend was over, and I made sure my son was okay. Once I got him settled I headed up to talk to her. She was sitting on her bed, looking pretty upset.

“Do you want to tell me what’s going on?” I asked. She explained to me that she got really mad at him, and was frustrated that he wouldn’t listen. The friend was there, watching, which made things more intense. I explained that hitting is never OK – which she knows – and we talked about what the consequence might be for her, along with how she could repair things with her brother. Then she lowered her eyes.

“You’re mad at me because I got angry,” she said.

“No,” I answered, “I’m not upset with you because you got angry.”

She looked at me quizzically.

“We all get angry sometimes,” I said. “It’s a normal part of life.”

It’s true, and I wasn’t about to be upset with her for having a normal and very human reaction.

“Besides, haven’t you seen me get angry before?” I asked.

She nodded. Of course they’ve seen me angry – they’re my kids!

“And what do I do when I get angry?”

“You stop and take some deep breaths.”

“Yes. What else do I do?”

“Sometimes you yell, and then you apologize later,” she said.

I nodded. “What else?”

“You punch a pillow.” She smiled.

“Yes! I punch a pillow.” This is something I’ve shown them how to do, because it’s better to punch a pillow than hurt someone else. And they find it funny, which helps to break the tension a bit.

“Anger is just energy,” I remind her, “and it needs a place to go. What’s something else we could do when we feel like this?”

“Move our bodies,” she said.

“Yes. We can get up, shake it out (one of their favorite things), move around, ride our bikes…anything to help move through that energy.”

She nodded.

I went on to explain, in kid-friendly terms, that she doesn’t need to “get rid of” her anger, and that she doesn’t need to feel ashamed about a natural feeling. That the more we accept those feelings and see them as normal, just clouds passing through the sky, the better we become at managing those emotions and moving through them.

That the goal is not to push away, but to integrate. To welcome these feelings, expect them, make them a cup of tea and sit with them. Get curious about them.

When we push things away they don’t actually go “away;” they go deeper into our brains and bodies and get stuck. And that stuck energy can create all sorts of problems, like blocking our vital life force energy from flowing freely, and keeping us from feeling good.

We tend to get the idea – from the wellness world, from our upbringings, or society – that we’re always supposed to be polished and grounded and Zen, suppressing anything “negative” and being all “high vibes only!” But that just isn’t reality. And thinking this way tends to cause a lot of shame when our shadow sides peek out from behind the curtain.

What we push away, ignore, or try to hide is actually what owns us, and these habits only make them more powerful. Wouldn’t it be better to accept it all, and allow ourselves to be full, whole humans sharing this messy experience called life? To give ourselves the chance to practice healthier ways to work through these things, so they don’t knock us off course?

If you look at the classic yin and yang symbol you can see very clearly: the dark side is not totally dark; there is always a small circle of light. It’s a part of it, and can’t be without. And the light side is not totally light; there is always a small circle of dark. It’s necessary, it’s always there, and it’s needed for balance.

The goal is not to suppress, but to integrate. Not to fight with, but to move with. I learned much of this during the training for my Tai Chi certification: you don’t “fight” the opponent, you take the energy of the opponent and move with it instead of against it. In this way, you are not thrown off balance. You instead harness the energy of the opponent to gain control and maintain your own stability.

Back to the conversation with my daughter. I let her know that anger and other tough feelings are all normal and something that even us adults struggle with all the time. That we get better and better the more we practice becoming aware of what’s going on inside of us.

At the end of the conversation I shared something else: “Anger, when we stop and listen to it, is actually very helpful. It shows us what we really care about. What do you think was so upsetting to you? Can you think about what you cared about in that moment?”

“That I knew I was right, and I wanted him to see that.”

“Ah,” I said. “I can relate to that. And sometimes I have to remind myself of a simple question: Would I rather be happy, or would I rather be right?”

She smiled. I could tell it resonated. I love these talks with my kids, because it helps remind me as well when I’m caught in a struggle with my own emotions. And maybe, just maybe, the next time that happens, she’ll remind me of our talk – or at the very least, hand me the pillow.

If you enjoyed this post, I will be leading an 6-week virtual Qigong course for Spring, called The Spring Qi Cleanse. We will meet virtually once a week for 6 weeks to practice for one hour. You can sign up below. 

As a member you will also receive liver-supporting recipes as well as meditations to help unblock stuck energy and replenish the flow of Qi in your body throughout the program. 

You don’t have to know Qigong or Tai Chi; beginners are welcome, as well as those who are familiar with these practices. Regardless of your skill level you will benefit from the teachings and movements. 

You can join here: 


As a member of the 6-week course you will receive:

  • 6 weeks of guided Qigong/Tai Chi practice specifically for Spring and enhancing your liver Qi
  • Teachings of basic tai chi and qigong principles to help strengthen and align your body
  • Recordings sent to you each week, so if you miss class you can practice on your own time
  • Lifetime access to all material
  • Weekly recipes geared toward cleansing and detoxifying to support your liver energy and help to unblock Qi
  • Meditations geared toward releasing anger and stuck energy and supporting new vibrant, healthy growth in your life 
  • email support from me throughout your Spring Qi journey

Don’t wait – join me in this unique opportunity for the Spring Qi Cleanse. We start April 11th!


Alessandra Macaluso is the author of What a Good Eater! , Lucy the Bee and the Healing Honey, and The Real-Deal Bridal Bible. She’s also a Qigong and Tai Chi instructor, and overall wellness advocate. Her work has been featured in several anthologies which can all be found on her Amazon author page, and she has contributed to The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, TODAY Parents, and many other online publications.

Alessandra is a northerner-turned-southerner, enjoying the south with her children, Penelope and Ciro, and her husband, Greg.

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