Sunday, April 29, 2012


In NVC (Non-Violent Communication), we talk about feelings and especially about needs as the fundamental core of all things we do. We distinguish between the perception of an incident (observation), the feelings that it inspires and the needs that these feelings touch upon - met or unmet. Needs are said to have a living energy, a kind of surge, a power of their own. You can find them hiding in your belly, knees, hands, chest, neck... and sometimes just touching upon them releases a burst of energy. This is not dissimilar from the principles of psychoanalysis, where touching upon the "basis" of sometime releases the knots that have been tied by that thing.

(Sometimes I find myself wondering about specific kinds of feelings... guilt, loss, shame... are these really feelings? How would we perceive these within the spectrum of NVC?)

Then there is the question of anger, much demonised, quite rejected... as a feeling, it's pretty much the epitome of negativity, poisonous to your thoughts and blood.

Today, though, while experiencing what has otherwise been classified (by myself and other people) as fear, anxiety, stress and panic, I felt anger. This is hardly headline news, though the experience of anger this time around as remarkably different from what it has been before. Perhaps because every time something like this has happened, I've not stopped to wonder if what I was feeling was indeed anxiety or something else altogether. All I felt was a jumbled mass of potent, incomprehensible STUFF. I've often described what I've felt as anger, and indeed, that is also a valid definition. But what I felt today had me wondering if perhaps anger is also a NEED and not just a FEELING.

My counselor evidently has a friend who spoke of how, when people get angry, they scream, and surmised that on a sensory level, then, anger is actually a way of expressing to someone that they are too far away. That they can't hear you. That you're unheard, in one way or another.

Anger, I think, can be a need. There are things inside you that cannot emerge without the shield and simultaneous vulnerability that characterise anger, and sometimes to bring those things to life, you need anger. Sometimes you need to be able to fight for yourself, isn't that a need too? Sometimes you yourself are blinded by your preconceptions about what is right and wrong, what is poisonous and foul and what is wonderful... and you fail to see those things that are wretched and miserable and a little broken that are, despite your greater sense of logic and whatnot, a part of you. Anger is also those needs, struggling to be heard across the vast chasm that you've put in between your idea of yourself and who you really are.

I sat today for a very long time with my happy yellow pill in my hand, thinking about anger. What I have been feeling for a long time, while rejecting it often, is anger. Anxiety too, but anger predominantly. What I have wanted for a while is to have someone who can hear this anger and accept its expression. It's alive, damn it. And I need it to survive too. 

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