October 2010: Anger
The last months have brought grief, anger, and intentional rest. My encounters with anger were surprising, frustrating, and educational.
Some of the craziness of life can spill over and affect seemingly unrelated areas. At one point, I realized that if I did not deal with my anger it would consume me. The clue or red flag that my anger required my attention: it felt like poison coursing through my veins. Not a good sign—nor a good feeling.
So I had some inner work to do. This anger wasn’t going anywhere; and the longer I nursed it, the more consuming it became and started to affect my relationships with other people. What to do? For one, I had to acknowledge it. It was a very real part of my life. It didn’t help putting a lid on it—the steam built up pressure sure to cause an explosion. It also didn’t help to spew it all over those around me.
But I did need to figure out a way to direct it. I call this using anger for good rather than evil. While most of us would hardly consider ourselves evil nor our actions, it is a concise statement to help us focus our energies. I had to find a way to channel my anger into positive change. And then I had let go of it.
While it still angers me to remember what transpired, it no longer consumes me—and I can make the choice to ‘not go there’ when thoughts traipse through my mind. However, I did have to do something to address the problem in a tactful manner. To resort to violence or passive aggression generates more pain and suffering rather than alleviates it. It takes a bit more effort to control emotions while expressing them and address the underlying issue. In addressing the issue and my anger, my goal is to do so with self-respect as well as respect for the others involved. Keeping this in my mind helps curb the temper tantrum temptation.
Our anger can stem from a lot of different things: disappointment, frustration, blocked goals, unmet expectations, being hurt, wronged in some manner, wrongfully accused, violated, broken trust, unfairness, righteous indignation, global concerns, local issues, backlog of unaddressed emotions, and the list goes on. Some matters are more easily addressed than others. But regardless of the precipitating event to our anger, each of us is responsible for our own responses, actions, and repercussions.
So my point? We can deal with our anger in ways that cause further damage, or we can find alternative solutions that produce positive change. This often requires some thought, patience, courage, and being mindful of our own needs as well as of those around us. Anger is an effective indicator that something requires attention. It may take some digging to unearth the real, underlying cause; but in doing so, we free ourselves to move on to other things—especially if we take the time to direct our angry energy into positive change.
My challenge to you this month is to join me in my attempts to use anger for good, as a motivator to make positive change. What changes are in store for you if you attend to what makes you angry?