The Fight Channel: Understanding Mindful Anger

There’s some stuff that’s hard to talk about when it comes to discussing how you feel as a rider or horseperson, and anger is definitely one of those topics. The thing is, just because we know that it’s not the ideal state to be in when working with horses, doesn’t mean that people no longer feel it. And then beyond that, you have a situation where those of us trying their best to cultivate the “cool” energy feel ashamed and embarrassed at their seeming inability to generate zen (meaning that it’s talked about and dealt with even less).

Let’s start by differentiating between mindful anger and, well… not mindful anger. Mindful anger means that I can feel a certain level of activation in my body that lives in the fight channel, but that energy doesn’t become bigger than me. Consequently, I am able to channel it into assertiveness, strength, and have a visceral sense of my own backbone- necessary qualities both in riding and in life.

Anger that is bigger than me, however, means that in the moment I am in it, the experience of the emotion has become bigger than my body, and I am no longer tapped into my higher wisdom that can inform me how best to navigate the situation. When we are in that place, we are in sympathetic activation. The smoke alarm portion of our brain is the one in control and we are not in a place to consider the ramifications of our actions until after when the pre-frontal cortex comes back online and we feel remorseful and embarrassed. And so the cycle continues.

Some things to know:

🔥 Anger is an emotion of the fight channel. The higher the intensity of the emotion, the further up the channel you are

🔥 Many of us are hovering at the “charged” end of the scale, nervous system-wise, and when an outside charge is added to that, it’s easy to climb up the chain really fast because it escalates to a point where the activation gets too big for your body

🔥 Creating “Zen” will be hard because your baseline at the moment is set to a high charge

So the work then is:

💧 Regulating in the first instance, so that you have a more stable baseline to come back to

💧 Creating more safety and stability in your body

💧 Getting used to feeling charge in the system without it zooming outside of your window of tolerance

Anger is not dissimilar to anxiety, it’s just operating in a different channel, with a different manifestation. Once you understand that, you can begin the work to bring your baseline back down to a more regulated and balanced place.


❤️ Jane

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