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  • Ricka Robb Kohnstamm

What is that anger all about?

I don't experience anger much - it is not one of my "go to" emotions. But this week, I experienced it upfront and personal.

No matter where you are stuck or overwhelmed, how does knowing that emotions communicate important information about needs support optimal health?

Lately, I as I have been riding the waves of equanimity, I've noticed the waves are higher and the drop in between is steeper. The wind is whipping around, almost throwing me off balance.

But with the exception of snapping at the young UPS man who couldn't figure out how to send a package to a specific office in Lima, Peru (I apologized) and snapping at the online Venmo chat person who wasn't responsive to my request (I did not apologize), I've been allowing the ups and downs to be just that - I ride them and teeter a bit, but keep my balance.

Until this week, that is.

It crept on me - this rumbling, sparking red energy, deep in my gut. And before I knew it, Anger was exploding out of my mouth in words and out of my eyes as tears.

Whoa! What just happened?

I had the presence of mind to look with compassion at the Unfamiliar Angry Ricka and think:

"What is underneath your anger, my dear?"

"What does it have to teach you about your needs?"

"And what do you want to do with this information?"

Because this is something I know for sure...

Every emotion is telling me something important about whether or not my basic human needs are being met. And whether an emotion is familiar or arrives unexpected, it's worth listening to.

I pulled out my "needs" lists (shared with me by an important teacher, Yvette Erasmus) and there it was.

My need for "safety" and within that, my need for structure, consistency and stability weren't being met.

I realized that structure, consistency and stability are important to me, particularly when the waves are uneven and the wind is blowing unpredictably. Good to know.

Once I unraveled that, I put a new plan in place to increase all of those things, as well as more skillfully communicate my needs to others.

Thank you, Anger, for making my needs visible to me so that I can attend to them, instead of pushing them underground.

I can minimize and deny my emotions. Or I can turn towards them as information. It is a choice. It is up to me.

Reach out to me if you are experiencing loud emotions and want to turn towards them to learn what they are teaching you. Learning new responses to emotions is hard work. And it is life giving. Turning towards optimal health is a choice, one you can make for yourself.

(PS Write to me at or via my website if you would like a copy of my needs list, happy to share.)

Hello, I'm Ricka.

Ricka Kohnstamm Executive & Physician Coach Profile Photo

I'm a Nationally Board Certified (NBC-HWC) Integrative Health and Wellbeing Coach. I specialize in working with physician leaders, corporate leaders, non-profit executives and their families to navigate complex work and personal issues so they can strengthen their relationships, heal, and feel hopeful about the future again. 



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