The Upside of Anger (aka The Power of Pissiness)
SCOTUS confirmations. Climate Control. Kanye West. There’s plenty to be pissed about right now. But when you are highly self-aware and emotionally intelligent — getting pissed can be problematic. Because intellectually, you know that your anger is related to pain. And, as an intellectual, you’d rather identify the pain than get stuck in your anger. Because using your anger as a distraction from your pain is immature and ineffective (for most of us. Ahem.).
After all, that is the gift of anger. It points to a pain that lies deeper than what we can see in the moment. It topples us over with its force, humbling the mindful self with a pit-in-the-stomach kind of fury. It’s a secret key, a hidden clue, a door left slightly ajar so that you can find out what’s really going on.
Anger says (yells), ‘Woah, woah, woah! That’s my boundary you just stepped over - back off, Bob!’
But if you’re used to managing your anger, then by the time you get that message you may have already massaged it and checked its tone so that it comes out in an inside voice, “Excuse me, Bob? You’re stepping on my boundary. Would you mind taking a step back?’
Mature, civil and level-headed. Desperately needed in so many areas of our life right now.
Unless you’re still feeling pissed. Then there’s a problem. Because anger is an emotion that requires another person (even if that Other is you). So if you’re still feeling angry and there isn’t another who is the focus of your anger - then the person you will get angry at, is yourself (which kinda pisses me off, cuz you’re such a sweetheart).
It’s true that unleashing your anger can range from unpleasant to downright brutal. But keeping it in is cruel. For one thing, it’s exhausting. It takes so much effort to suppress and contain the volatile and vigorous nature of anger. And for another, it’s futile. At some point that burbling will give way to a force that will explode like an untapped can of soda (and, like that soda, leave a sticky mess everywhere!).
That’s the upside of anger, it is high-octane energy. It’s got the zest, the passion, the adrenaline that you need when you’re feeling adamant about something. Instead of managing it, try riding it out, allowing yourself to get riled up. Enjoy the relief, release and (yes) righteousness that comes with full-out anger. A good round of anger feels exhilarating, empowering and downright sexy (#makeupsex anyone?). Share it with a friend, a stranger, a blank sheet of paper (I swear this can be equally satisfying!). But don’t shush it or judge it or fear it. Let it go and see what unfolds: what yearns to be said, what wrong wants to be righted, what need is not being filled. Trust that your anger, like the rest of your sweet self, has something precious to offer you.
And, by all means, leave us a good R&R (rant & rave) below!