For forty years, the STAR Foundation has been offering retreats to help individuals deal with issues of anger management. Anger is a natural emotion, something we all experience. Anger arises when we feel used, abused, disrespected, endangered, ignored, and many other ways of being hurt. Anger can be a difficult feeling to deal with, especially when a person was never taught healthy ways to deal with and express it. Indeed, many families, cultures, and institutions teach children that anger is not allowed. Consequently, they end up squashing their anger, squashing their spirit. Accordingly, they learn to hide parts of themselves, and become vigilant about expressing what is true for them. This, obviously, can lead to a loss of spontaneity and aliveness. And a lot of pent-up anger. —
Sometimes, when these children grow up, there is a dark rage inside where the right to be themselves and feel their feelings is stuffed deep inside. For some, it begins to break out when they get triggered by people or things that resonate with how they were treated when they were young. It may have nothing to do with the present situation, but that rage may be inside looking or waiting for a way out. Innocent people, animals, or things may end up being its target.
At STAR the word “shadow” is used to describe the part of a person that acts out his or her pain on others when it hasn’t been felt and dealt with in a healthy way. Some people’s shadow is driven by the rage mentioned above. It can come out, as shadows do, in indirect ways, as in cutting remarks, put downs, hurtful comments, controlling and domineering actions, manipulative behaviors, and more. It may feel like a volcano inside that is ready to erupt at any time. In one sense, it is like a hurt, neglected or mistreated child who refuses to take any more (perceived) mistreatment or punishment, no matter the cost. “I don’t care, I’m not going to be hurt or shut up or squashed again! I don’t care what I have to do or who I hurt! Not again!”
At STAR, the staff always tries to make it feel safe enough for participants to reveal and engage with that hurt kid. When a participant can feel that early hurt and anger with clarity and compassion for that sad and hurting inner child, old patterns of anger can be shifted to new ways of processing those triggered feelings instead of just acting out with that rage from the past misplaced into the present moment.
There are also many people whose anger and/or rage has solidified to the point that their normal state is one of grumpiness or antagonism. They’ve become somewhat closed down and cold, hardened. It’s as if their anger has frozen and become a permanent attitude surrounding and protecting their heart from getting hurt again. But shutting down this way also avoids positive feelings and doesn’t allow anyone’s life to flourish.
Participants who come to a STAR for anger management are helped to connect with and express some of their anger and rage, which really means connecting to the true origin, the source of the original wound/injury/hurt. This entails examining the feelings around the people who first hurt them, ignored them, or squashed them. Participants at STAR are encouraged to feel and express whatever they feel in the present moment. STAR makes it safe for participants to express their genuine and deepest feelings—sometimes feelings they’ve been holding back for years. For some participants, this is what can allow the beginning of opening and strengthening the connection to their heart and essence. Connecting those feelings to the root causes can lead to connecting much more securely to their essence, to who they were before they went into hiding. They begin to appreciate who they really are, to get in touch with their own goodness, to develop compassion for what they’ve been through, and to understand much more clearly what they’ve put others through when that deep anger has erupted. At this point in the STAR process, participants also begin to feel the internal space that will help them make choices about their behavior and reactions the next time they get triggered, instead of defaulting to the old patterns when the fuse gets lit.
There are a lot of aspects to anger and it can be quite a different experience for each person at an anger management retreat. When a person is able to feel some of that anger for what it really is, that will eventually lead to forming a deep connection to the hurt child beneath it. Once that happens, he/she can begin to listen to that child and find out what they need and begin to take care of that child in more healthy and loving ways. As one STAR graduate put it, “STAR was the best therapeutic process I have ever been to. It stripped away years of crusty layers of pretended indifference to reveal my repeated cycles of anger, abandonment, fear and despair. It may very well lead me to the happiness and sense of peace I’ve yearned for. It’s all up to me now, not the ghosts of my past.”
Please use their contact information below to reach out to learn more about STAR Foundation’s Therapy Retreats.
Release ID: 89064105