July 2016, by Jeannie Daly-Gunter
Many of us have some fear around Warrior energy both inside and outside ourselves. This article is to help us gain a better understanding of the Warrior energy so that we can have more compassion for our own and other’s Warrior energy.
Each of the four archetypes we work with in Shadow Work® has its own emotion that is the gateway to that archetype. In the case of the Warrior, the gateway is anger. That doesn’t mean that Warriors are always angry, but it is the clue that Warrior energy is up for you and others when anger is present. If you are wanting to “pump up” your Warrior energy, pay attention to when you are angry and what has triggered that anger.
NO WONDER WE STRUGGLE WITH ANGER
Here is one way that we can know that we, as a culture, have anger in shadow. If you do a Google search for quotes on anger, 99% of them are “negative.” They are warnings from Gandhi and Buddha and Eleanor Roosevelt that, essentially, anger needs to be banished from a pure heart. Really? Way to stuff THAT down into the shadow bag!
I only found one quote on anger that was weakly positive about anger. “A person who has lots of anger inside, definitely loves more than anyone else can, because if red indicates anger, it indicates love too.” Hmmm.
No wonder we struggle with anger. We have demonized it. Rarely do you hear someone say, “I’m working on bringing out my anger!” And yet, anger is life force energy, it is one of our basic human emotions. It points to what we care about. It is a mother bear protecting her young. It is a boundary that says, “No! That is not OK!”
THE POSITIVE SIDE OF WARRIOR ENERGY
Warrior energy is about boundaries, defending, protecting and also going on the offensive. So, when we are angry, a boundary has been violated for us. Pay attention to what that boundary is; it will give you cues as to what is important to you and how you are defining yourself.
Warrior energy is also about “self-building.” I am that, I am not that. So, when we take action in the world (a Warrior thing), we are stating, “This is me!” Getting good results from our actions reinforces our self-esteem, our healthy ego, our sense of self.
One of the challenges with Warrior energy is that anger can be hard to “control.” Many of us have probably been hurt by people in our lives who did not have healthy anger, and so, many of us have our own anger in shadow. We were told when we were little that “good girls” don’t get angry, or “nice guys” don’t raise their voices. Whatever the message was, both boys and girls often get the message that anger is scary, not OK, and certainly not lovable.
What if, instead, we had heard something like, “Yes! That is you! You are finding what is important to you. Good for you for speaking your no, your boundary!” How would things be different?
The wounding message we received in the Warrior quarter is, You are not important. You don’t exist apart from me. The Warrior’s quest is centered around defining him or herself, to find out what is important to them and to act to prove their worth in the world. That is why Warriors are doers, achievers.
ANGER IN SHADOW
Culturally, men are generally more supported in their anger. To an extent, it is acceptable in our culture that anger is a more “masculine” feeling. However, there are a lot of men who were raised to believe that loving men don’t really do anger. These boys often grow up to be nice guys, loving guys, but out of touch with their own power. They are “safe” guys to be around, they are often sensitive New Age guys (SNAGS), but they might have trouble standing up for themselves or knowing what they really want. Anger can also be fearful for men because it is an energy that seems volatile and that easily could spiral out of control. One way or another, many men have anger in the “shadow bag.” It’s just not safe.
Many women too have anger in the shadow bag. Little girls are often praised for being sweet, kind and loving. Culturally, it is acceptable for girls and women to hold more of the Lover and Sovereign archetypes. Many women have come to our Shadow Work practice groups or weekends and have struggled with being OK with their anger. Just setting a boundary can be challenging, let alone connecting with our inner Warrior. Is it OK to be a female warrior? Can I be a warrior and be feminine? How can I express my anger in a good way? I’ve been hurt by Warrior energy in the past, I don’t want to be like that! Or maybe they do have a lot of Warrior energy and as a woman they have shame around that. Either way, it’s just not safe.
ACCESSING HEALTHY WARRIOR ENERGY
Here is what I love about Shadow Work: In a symbolic container, we can take out these energies that don’t seem safe in everyday life and look at them, play with them, work with them. I can do a Warrior Run process on a weekend and scream and yell and say things I would never say in public to get a feeling for my strength, my power, my self. Then, I can bring this energy back into my life and use it for good. I can fight the good fight, bring my energy and beliefs about right and wrong into the world to support causes I believe in. I can support and stand up for myself. This is passion. Without access to our Warrior energy, it is difficult to have passion and act on our convictions. It is difficult to know what we want and take action in the world to make it happen.
The goal of the integrated Warrior is to know our boundaries, to be able to access our energy, our sense of self and to act in the world to make a difference. Warrior energy helps with all of that. For a long time I have known the importance of doing our anger work in a safe container. Shadow Work provides that space to dig into our anger and our energy in order to get the gold to fight the good fight.
Jeannie Daly-Gunter is a Certified Shadow Work® Group Facilitator in Boulder, Colorado.
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