Have you ever felt the need to throw a fork at someone, bang a frying pan on their head, throw a TV out the window or something equally absurd?
Have you ever just “lost it” or are you just chilled and in Zen and don’t experience those emotions? I don’t know about you, but I am definitely not Zen YET, maybe I’m human…
And Yes, I have thrown forks in a state of rage – twice – nothing to be proud of. No-one was physically damaged and talking about it in the aftermath was essential for clearing up what had caused the explosion.
I guess we all feel anger at different times in our lives and most often don’t want to… And we’ve been taught to be nice people, and most often for women, it is an emotion that is avoided at all costs, and considered as bad, undesirable or unacceptable.
So instead of listening to it we suppress, deny, bury it, block it, medicate or numb it or just plain try and ignore it.
BUT, we are meant to listen to our anger. It is a voice, a plea, a demand to look at what is really going on. If we don’t address anger, fear or other strong negative emotions they can build up over time and cause havoc in our personal lives and bodies. Anger is a powerful emotion and can cause total chaos.
However, even though anger is just an emotion, and like any emotion, it’s not really right or wrong. What we do with it is relevant – it can be used positively and negatively / good or bad.
For good (or positive) anger can:
- be activating and mobilising – it can get us results – If we learn to channel anger into action to achieve something we might have procrastinated on e.g. cleaning out the cellar, or getting the ironing done, . DUH – who still irons clothes today? I don’t… or maybe we’ll get our frigging cellar cleaned out, the wardrobe sorted, the tax declaration done…
- give a feeling of power – It enables us to express ourselves in a way we would not usually. And in the world of negotiation anger can sometimes be a very effective tactic. A salary increase or change of position, or even banal tasks like what gets done at home (or not) e.g. emptying the dishwasher after having asked like 30 times, or putting the washing away after it lying around for 3 weeks
- increase our self-worth or self-confidence – standing up for ourselves and not letting others take advantage of us. It could be labeled as assertive, strong or confident. And imagine telling an energy vampire to get the heck out of our lives…
- be a motivation for a bigger cause – to take a stand against injustice, discrimination or oppression e.g. child abuse or human trafficking, lack of rights for women (and much more)
For bad (or negative), and maybe this should come before the advantages as it can:
- make us really sick – when we’re really angry, our body reacts the same way when in stress. It triggers our body to take a defensive stance, readying ourselves for any danger that may come our way. When it’s intense and happens often, the physiological effects can be so harmful. It can trigger a whole lot of physical reactions that can have long term effects on the body e.g. high blood pressure, mental conditions, cardiac arrest or stroke.
- “break our hearts” – whenever we get angry our cardiovascular system becomes vulnerable. Anger increases blood flow to our muscles, it spikes levels of adrenaline and cortisol, Here’s a great article on The Science of how your heart can break
- cause pain to those around us – physical pain is bad enough but emotional and psychological damage can destroy relationships maybe irreparably. It is most likely to cause problems in relationships in the family, at work and with friends. People with long term anger problems tend to be poor at making decisions, take more risks than other people and are more likely to have a substance misuse problem.
It takes a lot of courage to look honestly and deeply at the difficult emotions in our lives and to be prepared to make real change from within. Nothing is a quick fix. It’s a process or journey to help ourselves heal, process difficult emotions and create real, lasting change.
Next time you find yourself getting angry at someone, stop and take a moment to check in and ask yourself:
- Why am I angry?
- Who made me angry?
- If I take a closer look, what am I feeling beneath the anger?
- What is really going on?
- Can I change the situation or change my response to it?
- Do I need to set better boundaries?
With these insights we can make a more informed (read: less knee-jerk) decision on how we want to respond. This will help prevent us from verbally assaulting our (often unaware) “wrongdoer” with our anger, thereby prevent injury to the relationship. AND this could save us from having to deal with the emotional mess of our own guilt and shame.
Can I express myself immediately in a calm, assertive, and non-aggressive way, or do I need some time to cool off before I can talk about how I’m really feeling? Often, the latter works much better.
It can be really challenging to creating change from within at times. But it is so worth it.
Easy to say, not so easy to do. And like most things worth anything:
it takes patience, practice, and persistence.
Serious shit, peeps – life is not for sissies – so we need support!
We either get help in form of therapy, or we find an alternative through dancing, meditating, getting a massage, going for walks in the forest, just sweating it out aka exercise or painting..
From personal experience, and experience from some of my clients intuitive painting has been extremely therapeutic. The insights and observations were immensely beneficial to releasing emotions and finding balance again.