Anger Is Useful
Anger is with us for better or for worse: Let’s embrace the positive side of anger.
***This post is part of the “Beliefs and Anger” Series. Some parts of this series may make you uncomfortable. However, we are unable to truly change if our thoughts, beliefs, values, and decisions are never questioned. I know the topics of beliefs and anger are momentous, so each post is designed to help break down our anger emotions and what may be beneath our anger (i.e. beliefs), so we can collectively move forward. Each post may be read individually; however, reading all of them will give you greater insight into yourself and society. If you chose to read them in order, read them in the order they were posted (Congratulations America, We Have an Anger Epidemic is the first post).
Staying in the safe status quo is damaging to society and to you in the long term. Do you really want to stay where we are currently are, anyways?***
Anger exists. Anger is useful emotion when we acknowledge it and allow our anger to show us things we were previously unwilling to see. Anger can be healthy and helpful to us when we take control of it, instead of letting it control us.
Galvanized into action
We can utilize our anger to move forward and make positive differences for ourselves as individuals, for our communities, or even for our society as a whole.
Protests and marches are often the catalyst for change. Historically we can link back to those big events as a tipping point for when things changed. In reality, though, those big events were only one part in a series of actions.
Marches and protests are good, but for lasting change, movements also need innovation and the ability to change people’s unconscious belief systems. Ultimately you need to make an impact on the people who weren’t at the protests, the marches, and the rallies: those whose belief systems are different from yours. We form beliefs unconsciously. (There will be an entire post in this series explaining in much more detail what beliefs are and how they are created.)
Personalized anger (you and another individual)
Everyone has experienced been angry at someone. Being angry at someone can be a way of venting your feelings. Sometimes, you just need to express your feelings. Talking about your anger with someone other than the person you’re angry at can be an effective way to vent your feelings. Expressing your feelings to someone else first can help you to calmly and rationally approach the person you are angry at, and avoid angrily and irrationally confronting the person in the heat of the moment.
The cooling off period
When you are in the heat of an argument, sometimes is helpful to take a break and walk away to collect your thoughts. Sometimes those quiet cool moments can help you to better understand your relationship to the other person.
A few questions to think about the next time you find yourself angry at someone.
- What is your relationship to this person? Go beyond just the label of friend, coworker or family member.
- What is something you could have said or done differently?
- What is something they could have said or done differently? (This is for your own reference. Accusing them of being wrong (even if it is true) will only make them more defensive.)
- What other feelings and emotions (frustration, hurt, fear of losing the person, fear of the person) are coming up for you? All feelings and emotions are okay.
- Where do you want to go from here?
- Do you ultimately value and want a relationship with this person?
If Yes: How do begin to move past the anger?
If No: How do you begin to distance yourself?
The cooling off period can take a while, which can be frustrating. Giving space to the other person might be hard. However, taking that time to cool off usually gives each person a chance to heal and to grow emotionally as individuals. A long-term cooling off period can be particularly challenging, especially if one person sees value in the relationship and other person doesn’t. Then it is even more imperative for the person who saw value in the relationship to acknowledge their feelings and emotions so in a different relationship with someone else can be clean instead of bringing unresolved baggage into it.
I have a RIGHT to be angry
It is your right (and it is healthy) to feel your anger. Dealing with your anger instead of keeping it bottled up makes it less likely to become overwhelming.
But it can also be actually healthy for you to sit with your anger for a period of time, rather than immediately trying to change your emotions and feelings to something else.
Below are a few ways to acknowledge your anger
- It is okay to say to someone: “I feel crabby today, please let me be. I don’t need you to do anything\; I just need to feel my anger today.”
- Screaming into a pillow is a great way to release some of the stress and frustration of being angry, especially if you are trying to avoid yelling at someone.
- Taking a walk and observing what’s around you, without using your phone as a distraction.
- Doing other physical activity (hitting golf balls, tennis balls, or a heavy bag; gardening)
- Using an actual pen and paper to write out all your feelings. Sometimes it is helpful to do it in the form of a letter, with no intention of sending it.
- Even though it can be incredibly hard, say: “I am angry because I am hurt.” Saying this to yourself or someone else is incredibly self-empowering.
Once you have acknowledged your anger and have allowed yourself to feel all of your feelings related to your anger, you then need to begin to move beyond your anger. Otherwise, it becomes detrimental to you.
Now is the time to step up and persist.