Why are we so angry?

I’ve been surrounded by a lot of angry humans recently. People tearing down other people, people having full-on rants (online and IRL), not to mention celebrities trading insults publicly. And briefly a few weeks ago, I was one of them (an angry person, I mean, not a celebrity).

For two days recently, general annoyances compounded to make my blood boil. These included (but are not limited to): people not recycling; people stopping walking in the street right in front of me; people playing loud music on the bus; people trolling Victoria Beckham for kissing her daughter on the lips (I can’t even).
By nature, I’m not an angry person. I’m fairly good at processing my emotions then letting them go. So when I find myself becoming furious about the way other people are behaving – which, unless it’s directed at me, is actually none of my business – it’s a sign there’s something going on within myself that I need to address. Because anger, I think, is a bit like Instagram followers – the more of it you have, the more you’ll attract. 
Recently I found myself nodding along as I read an article in Stylist magazine which said that, as a society, our displays of frustration are becoming more frequent. It quoted a UK study which found that 71 per cent of internet users have exploded over computer problems; 50 per cent of shoppers have blown up over parking and 45 per cent of us regularly lose our temper at work. 
The story gave some reasons we’re – to use a classy Aussie expression – getting the shits, regularly. With long commutes, the relentless lure of the internet and greater work demands, we’ve got very little time to ourselves. So when something threatens that precious time – a traffic jam, a printer error, for example – we become panicked and we lose it. According to a study, 40 per cent of us will abandon a web page that takes more than three seconds to load. Three seconds!
As well as being fuelled by everyday annoyances, my anger was also directed at people who were doing things I didn’t approve of…. because, you know, I totally have the right to sign off on other people’s life choices (lol). When I became incensed at seeing a total stranger posting pictures of a 10-day juice cleanse, I realised my anger was completely irrational. Personally, I would never do a juice cleanse because I believe our livers are perfectly capable of getting rid of toxins, so depriving ourselves of the food our bodies needs to thrive just doesn’t make sense… to ME. But what other people do with their bodies is actually none of my business. So why, then, would I get angry about this woman’s choices? Oh, that would be the work of my inner control freak.

In my 20s (*gulp*), I had a tendency to try to force onto other people my political views, my exercise regimen, even my particular spiritual philosophies of the day... and responding with barely concealed contempt when they didn’t oblige. This did not, as you can imagine, make me good company at dinner parties. I remember one friend confessing she was sometimes scared to express an opinion she knew I didn’t share, for fear of setting me off on one of my shouty diatribes. *cringe*
Here’s the thing about anger: it’s a mask for deeper feelings. That’s why psychologists call it a secondary emotion. Beneath it is usually fear – of being inadequate, being rejected or being deprived of something (love or respect, for example). But instead of comforting and reassuring the scared child within, the angry old man in us takes over. Because shouting and launching verbal attacks seems to offer immediate relief, or at least release. But any relief is short-lived. The painful emotion lingers. 
We live in a world in which we have no ability to predict or control what might be thrown at us (although we always have agency over the way we respond). We are all scared. While talking about Islamophobia recently, The Project presenter Waleed Aly made some incredibly insightful comments about human behaviour: “When we are presented with what we perceive as an outrageous opinion, we can consider what motivated that person, try to understand their fear, and empathise with how they came to their conclusion. The truth is, what motivates them is fear. And fear is one thing we all share.” He wasnt talking about anger, necessarily, but the sentiment is the same. 
My anger was motivated by fear. I wanted others to be on board with my viewpoints to make me feel assured that I was ‘right’ – others having a differing perspective to mine felt like a threat. I had realised I was different and did not fit in with the crowd. I suppose I was frantically looking for assurance and a sense of belonging.
When I started to engage in a process of personal development (yep, still going with that one!), I started to feel more confident about my place in the world and less inclined to seek validation from other people. I’m at peace with the not knowingness that is a part and parcel of being an adult. I have realised that I do not need other people on my side – and that, in fact, there are no sides. I’m more at peace with the idea that I can cope with the beautiful confusion that we call life, instead of becoming increasingly panicked that I am not good enough, am in danger of being overwhelmed or missing out on something. In other words, in learning to respect myself for my differences, I learned to respect other people for theirs. 
These are the lessons I need to return to whenever I find myself getting angry at people for simply being people who are not me. This does not excuse shitty behaviour by people directed to me, obviously. But when it comes to everyday annoyances or people making decisions that have nothing to do with me, it’s about returning my focus to the things that *are* within my control: namely, my own choices.  

If anyone needs me, I’ll be over here cleaning up my own backyard.

The great pretender: imposter syndrome, and the fear of being found out

Woman pulls off mask
I used to have a friend who held a prestigious, high-powered job in magazines. She was great at it, too – but she didn’t think so. She once confided to me that she lived in terror that someday someone would tap her on the shoulder and ask her to leave, telling her they’d figured out she wasn’t up to the job after all.
This is what imposter syndrome looks like. At heart, it’s the belief that you’re not good enough, and it typically involves a deep fear that your inadequacy will be uncovered, probably in dramatic fashion. It’s typically experienced by more women than men, because we are, according to experts, more likely to recognise our faults (I’ll just park that statement without further comment).

Imposter syndrome has got naught to do with your actual performance or skills, it’s solely about an internal conflict, a deep suspicion that you’ve somehow hoodwinked everyone into letting you have this job or partnership, and they’re going to find out the truth about you very soon and your entire life will implode.
Whenever we’re dealing with a fear – particularly one like this, which has no logical foundation – the first most helpful thing we can do is remind ourselves we’re not alone. Fear is a projection of the ego, not the soul, and the ego is all about separating us from others. And you’re not alone, truly. More than 70 per cent of people have experienced feelings of fraudulence. That’s *feelings* of fraudulence, not actual fraudulence.
Blindfolded businesswoman stumbling along an empty roomImposter syndrome thrives on blissful ignorance of the facts. It ignores that your employer put you in this position because they think you’re good enough. It ignores that you’ve already turned in work of a high, or at least passable, standard. Reality check: even if you don’t feel like you know what you’re doing (which is probably not true), you know enough to be in the position you’re in, and there’s no reason you can’t learn more from that platform. You are already good, but it’s your willingness to keep going in the face of fear and all its stupid stories that makes you great.
The truth is, no one knows what the hell they’re doing, most of the time. Fake it ‘till you make it is an entirely reasonable work philosophy. In this life, we’re all making it up as we go along – anyone who is a parent can vouch for this. Expecting ourselves to be ace at everything is just another way we covertly bully ourselves. So, so unhelpful.
If a fear that your staff don’t rate you as a manager is a source of anxiety for you, try to remember that what other people think of you is none of your business. I know, I know… you *want* them to feel confident in your abilities so they do their best work, but ultimately that’s up to them, not you. The only thing within your control is, not the way others feel about you, but the way you feel about yourself. And if imposter syndrome is an issue for you, perhaps you need to do some work on bolstering that (don’t we all!).
Although I haven’t experienced imposter syndrome myself, I’m very familiar with the feeling of inadequacy. My feelings of unworthiness in any given situation generally stem from my tendency to compare myself to others, and as a result, finding myself lacking. Like this: ‘She’s so outgoing and funny and popular, and I’m so dull and awkward.’ In all honesty I don’t know whether there will ever be a point at which I will ever totally recognise my own worth – I doubt we as humans can ever fully understand our own power in this lifetime – so instead of focusing on what it is I perceive that I’m lacking, I try to look at what I do have. Not in a ‘well she may be pretty but I’m this and that…’ type of way, more just a general counting of my blessings without using anyone else as a reference point. This strategy has been working really well for me. In spiritual truth, none of us really lacks anything – we are all complete. Different, but wholly everything that we need to be.

What I’ve found helpful when it comes to getting on top of my comparison tendency has been turning it on its head by comparing myself with… myself. Looking back at the person I was six months, a year or two years ago, and taking a moment to appreciate how my emotional responses and behaviours have changed and matured gives me a sense of value. I don’t need to be the best, I just need to be better than I was. And I am, every day. And I know that you are too. (Better than yourself, I mean. Not better than me, obvs. Although you could be. Hey, let’s not compete, OK?)

My reflections on a year of angel card readings: the six things we all need to know

Woman posed with angel wings

OK, so it hasn’t been a full year of angel card readings. I dipped my toe into this slowly, and I only launched professionally in July. But I did start the Oracle Card Of The Day, which I do on social media every day (obvs), in 2014, so that’s good enough for me to call it a year.

Talking to people’s angels and delivering guidance that helps them heal and transform is an enormous privilege. What I’ve learned through being in such a special position is – and I’ve said this before, many times – that we are different, but we are all the same.

Here are the common messages that have come through in my conversations with the angelic realm this year, that apply to us all:

1 The answer to every problem you have is within you. The challenge is to listen to your intuition, and trust it. This is why the number one piece of feedback I get after a reading is: “This has confirmed what I was already thinking.” The more you can do to tune into your intuition, the better your life will flow.

2 Everybody is afraid of something. Most of us, a lot of things. Whatever it is (fear of rejection, failure or loneliness), you are not the only person who feels this way. But you are the only person who can move through that fear block. Drinking to ignore the problem is not helping you. Neither is remaining in that relationship that you’ve outgrown. If you choose not to move through fear, you will remain stuck.

3 Nobody is getting enough sleep. Nobody.

4 We’ve all got control issues. We all want to know when our soulmate will show up, when our children will be born, when we’ll get our dream job… the angels seldom answer these questions about timing directly, and here’s why: the Universe is much better at running your life than you are. Yes you should absolutely chase your dreams, but ultimately the Universe is in charge of the how and when. Learning to let go and trust in that process is a BIG hurdle for almost all of us.

5 You need to spend more time outdoors. This message comes up again and again, and that’s because we spend too much time in front of screens instead of streams. Simply being around nature – especially water – stimulates movement in your energy field which helps you let go of negative emotions. It also takes you out of your head space (resulting in overanalysing and worrying) and into your heart space (which is where you remember that everything is going to be OK). Yes please do overlook the fact that I am writing this post indoors on a computer screen, and you are no doubt reading it in similar circumstances.

6. You are, in the words of that great 20th century philosopher Winnie the Pooh (lol), braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. This comes through for people in readings again and again, because we are all undervaluing our own awesomnity. Me included. My quest to raise my self-esteem has been the biggest theme on my blog. I know this because I know the Universe does not make broken people (even though you might feel like you are sometimes). You are doing the best you can, and that is enough. Of course you can do better – and you will. And that’s part of what you are here, in this ‘earth school’ (as past-life regression expert Dr Brian Weiss cutely calls it), to learn. Back yourself. You got this. And the angels have got your back.

Stuck in grumpy mode? There's probably something going on underneath

For the past few days I’ve been really shitty, and despite my best efforts to shake it, I keep reverting to a state best described as the angry love child of Grumpy Smurf and Oscar the Grouch. I’ve found myself replaying old arguments in my head and scripting shouty comebacks. I sent off a series of terse emails. And yesterday on the train, the sound of someone constantly rustling a plastic bag annoyed me so much I had to get up and change seats. (I was also tempted to shout at her for using plastic bags, which is surely the greater crime, no?)
All this irritation had no obvious cause, but it went on for days and I suspected something else was going on internally.
My body was giving me signals that it was experiencing irritation at a deep level. My jaw became tight and painful (this is one part of the body where we hold on to anger), my digestion went out of whack (something which is usually, but not always, associated with emotional stress) and I developed hay fever (which is all about irritation)*.
Anger and irritation are perfectly valid emotions, and me experiencing them is not a problem in and of itself. The issue for me was that they weren’t prompted by a specific event or experience, and they were lingering like out-of-town relatives after Boxing Day. I knew that this was something that needed to be investigated.
When I thought about what is really frustrating me at the moment, I instantly felt that sensation in my gut that I get when I know I’ve identified something significant. There’s the fact I have to move out of my house, which is going to be an exhausting process that will cost me money I don’t have right now (and am worried that I won’t find, despite the angels’ reassurances to the contrary). There’s also the fact that my business is taking a long time to get off the ground. The experience of sitting in an empty room with an empty diary and waiting for the phone to ring is somewhat soul-destroying. 
It wasn’t hard to see the common thread: fear. Namely, fear of failure and fear of not having enough (money, resources, time). So many metaphysical books say that everything comes back to fear. In fact, anger is often referred to as a secondary emotion because it is usually masking another emotion. And often, that emotion is anchored in fear. 
Recognising my fears and calling them out for playing saboteur on my physical health hasn’t made me any less annoyed, but at least I’m aware of what’s really going on – and that’s helping me to put my focus back on what will help me move forward: patience. Accepting that my life is unfolding exactly as it should, and being patient with that process, makes me feel more calm. I hope that that will translate to patience across the board, making me less inclined to react to surface-level irritations. That’s the theory, anyway. 
I can’t, however, make any guarantees regarding the safety of plastic bag rustlers. 

* For the record, this doesn’t mean that if you sneeze you’re afraid of something – it probably just means you should stay away from pollen (lol). Also, sometimes a bad mood is just a bad mood. What I’ve documented here was just my experience of a lot of physical symptoms and emotional triggers adding up to the same thing. 

Help! I think I just did something brave... and I'm terrified!

Taking a chance, pushing through fear
Ever done something bold and thrilling and daring, then woken up the next day and thought, ‘what the hell have I done?!’
I’m not talking about a party flashback (although, God knows…). I’m talking about the big life-changing decisions that force you into a frightening place of immense vulnerability where your future no longer seems secure as it was. The result: terror and regret. But mostly terror.

Yesterday I signed a lease on a practice room at a holistic health centre in Inner West Sydney, from which I’ll be offering reiki and angel card readings, two days a week. I’d been talking about doing this for months, and I think everyone was as bored with the subject as I was. It was time to put up or shut up. So I did. I put down a hefty deposit and signed a lease which I’m bound to for a year. At the time I felt emboldened, confident and optimistic. But within hours I had that gut-wrenching ‘oh-God-what-have-I-done’ feeling. I don’t need to tell you this is a significant financial risk on my part. There’s also more than a small element of emotional risk too – if I don’t get a healthy client base I’m going to look and feel like a failure. 
As the landlord was asking me about my target audience (um, anyone with a pulse?) and my marketing plan (don’t even know what that is), I suddenly realised I’m in way over my head. I do not have a single client, and I don’t know the first thing about how to get any. I know I’m good at energy healing and angel communication (well, so my feedback indicates) but I also know ability and talent are immaterial if you can’t get anyone to walk through your door.
Guys, this is terrifying. The only thing keeping me from having a full-blown panic attack is the faintest hope that this *just might* work out. And the sense that if I don’t give it a go, I’ll always wonder whether it might have.
In a way, this reminds me of last year when I quit Auckland and moved to Sydney – a decision which also defied logic and threw me into an uncertain future, both financially and personally. And here I am again, staring at a foggy road ahead. Feeling woefully unprepared, but mildly buoyed by some brilliant person's quote that goes something like this: ‘No one is ever really ready for anything’. I’m whispering that silently, and often, to my Richter-scale-level thudding heart.
I know how much is riding on me backing myself and promoting my skills, and I’m genuinely unsure whether I can do that. There’s only one way to find out.
Risks uncertainty brave bold