On anger: What would Crazy Horse do?

Crazy Horse on angerWhen the great Lakota leader Crazy Horse was getting ready to go into battle, he would review his warriors and, if any were full of anger, he would tell them to stay behind.

Only when they had conquered their anger could they rejoin him.

That’s surprising, isn’t it?  One would think that such a dedicated and successful warrior on behalf of his people was motivated by anger, but apparently not.

Anger can point us in the direction of what’s important to us, but anger often controls the person instead of the person controlling it.  And that’s where the trouble starts.

[quote]Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”  Buddha[/quote]


‘There’s nothing wrong with anger provided you use it constructively.”  Wayne Dyer

Use it to motivate you to make change.

But if it twists your heart into knots and makes you vindictive and out of control, it hasn’t served you.  You have served it.  I believe that’s the kind of anger Crazy Horse didn’t want in his warriors.

Anger at injustices may seem justified, but if it clouds your judgment and impairs your ability to act rationally, it has not served a good purpose. You need to get angry enough to take action to right an injustice, but not so angry that you make mistakes.  In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “What is begun in anger, ends in shame.”

Get motivated and act with self-control.

And know when to walk away.

“Walking away is not a sign of weakness but of strength and great wisdom. When you sense anger building up within you, you need to just walk away from the scene or person. That moment is not the right time to say or do anything. Anger stirs up strife and develops problems that could have been avoided.”  Ngozi Nwoke

Use anger as a teacher or guide. What is not the way you want it to be? Is it in your control to change it?  If not, should you change direction?

Something has gotten out of balance in your emotional/mental/spiritual world.  Something is misaligned and needs to be re-aligned.

Various indigenous cultures had wonderful techniques for dealing with anger in a constructive manner.


Everyone experiences sadness, pain and anger in life.  It’s part of the human condition.

But modern society doesn’t give us many ways to deal with our emotions.

– it’s not o.k. for children to have temper tantrums or get angry

– girls can cry a little, boys not at all

– boys can express some anger, but not too much.

Most of us are probably still carrying some pain, anger, and sadness from childhood because we aren’t taught many acceptable ways to deal with it in modern society.

If we don’t find ways to express it, we hold it inside and can end up feeling blocked and have a hard time expressing anything at all. It’s important to release these things so we can feel fully and let in new, good feelings.

Anger turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.  So it needs to be released in a healthy manner.

Many ancient cultures had ceremonies for releasing negative feelings.

The Ancient Hebrews had a scapegoat:  In the spring, people cleansed themselves of negativity.  They would pray over a goat and express negative feelings to the goat then drive it out into the wilderness.

Apache devil dancers drive out negative emotions during ceremony.

Pomo bear dance:  people would hit the bear dancer with a switch as they state what they’re upset about.  Then they chase the bear to the water where the skin is washed off.

Dr. Gloom in Mexico:  prior to their Fiesta, the people would make a paper mache statue called Dr. Gloom and pin notes on the statue naming things they felt badly about.  Their spiritual leader then burned the statue.

My favorite technique is one I learned from Sun Bear: dig a hole in the ground and shout your anger and frustration into it.


•            Go to a secluded spot, looking for a seed or acorn along the way.

•            When you find the spot, pray and ask permission of the ancestral spirits for help in releasing what is bothering you. Put down tobacco as part of your prayer for permission.

•            Dig a hole, using your hands, a stick or stone, or shovel.

•            Lie down or kneel over the hole, and express into it any thing you want; you can speak to a person that’s hurt you, or yell at the Creator; whatever you need to do to release, just do it . Shout if you want to.  It’s O.K. to cry, spit or throw up.

•            When you’re done, put in a seed or pinecone and pray for positive things to grow from your fertilizer.

•            Then sit on the earth and experience how it feels to be free of that negativity.

If you live in the city, you can do this using a litter box, planter or toilet bowl.

Let me know how it works for you.  It has worked for me many times.

[quote]Get mad, then get over it.”  Colin Powell[/quote]
Molly Larkin

Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller "The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman”  and other books on health. She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes, healing practice and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com

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