Anger: How to Respond Using Five Element Wisdom

What can anger do for you?

Anger and kindness are the emotional spectrum of the Wood element. In the presence of injustice, righteous anger helps us see that something else is possible – an unjust or violent situation does not need to continue. Creative vision, the mental aspect of Wood, crafts an effective response to injustice, as it did in the cases of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.  If we fail to become angry, we fail to take care of ourselves and our children when faced with danger. The upward- rising quality of anger mobilizes us into action and if we have clear vision, that action will ultimately be benevolent to everyone involved.

How best to move through it?

What can we do to move the energy of anger through our bodies and into effective and kind action? Often, we become frightened of our anger and try to suppress it. This can show up as tense muscles, especially in the jaw and diaphragm. Anger is an energy that rises from the belly up to the head (as in the phrases “he’s hot under the collar,” or  “she needs to blow off some steam,” and “they are hot-headed”). The region of the diaphragm (along the inner borders of the rib cage on the abdomen), often show the tension of suppressed anger or frustration.

·         Stretch the body to release emotional tension, especially in back bends and chest openers.


·         Breathe deeply to get the diaphragm moving.

·         Focusing the breath on the area below the navel soothes anger quickly, as deep rhythmic breathing initiates a smooth flow of qi so that it is no longer blocked at the diaphragm or throat.

As the body relaxes, the mind relaxes, allowing our minds to become more creative in finding an effective and kind solution to whatever has stimulated the anger. Acupuncturists often see this type of tension in the diaphragm and may treat the last point on the Liver channel, Gate of Hope, in combination with the first point on the Lung channel to allow qi that has been blocked in the abdomen to rise up into the chest, flowing up and out of the body with ease.

Supporting others when they are angry

Five element theory tells us that Metal controls Wood. Reverence and deep acknowledgement are the gift of Metal. With a deep bow of respect for the angry feelings of the other, you might become physically lower than them – a figurative bow, if you will. With a hushed voice that you might use in a house of worship and with an attitude of reverence for this person, acknowledge their anger. Let them know that you respect their feelings and value their presence. This respect and acknowledgement can often help the angered one deepen their breath and diffuse the anger enough for the movement of qi to be re-established and a step forward made toward a solution.