We can use the incredible life force of anger for good purposes.
Anger activates brain processes that affect the will, encouraging actions that we would probably avoid. But we cannot use anger if we believe it is bad or scary.
Anger erupts when we believe that something should happen and not happen. If we know how angry we are, we can ask for what we need. If we do not know how to recognize a physical sensation or do not know what to do with anger when it has accumulated or “exploded”, anger will quickly be masked behind other emotions, such as bitterness, cynicism, mistrust, and contempt. Then we trap ourselves in our own story about what is wrong and horrible and tie certain feelings to that story. Stress resulting from hiding anger erupts in inappropriate situations, with colleagues, and at home, with the people, we love the most.
If we didn’t take action because we felt powerless, we give up even before we try to change anything. We may have tried once or twice, but those attempts ended badly. When someone asks us how we feel about a certain situation, we say, “There is nothing I can do” or “It’s not up to me to interfere”. I’ll be fired. There will be retaliation. It will hurt my colleagues or my children. “There is no end to the excuses. We deal with behavior that hurts us, keep our anger inside, and pretend it doesn’t exist”.
On the other hand, we may know that there are things we can change, but we want to avoid direct confrontation. Let’s get stuck in a negative loop of regret. We start judging, “They’re jerks”. Then we start looking for people who will agree with our point of view. People often use social networks to release negative energy and look for like-minded people, while at the same time doing nothing to advocate for the changes they want to see.
Some people move back and forth between fighting and giving up. They bang their heads against the wall and then say, “Never mind, forget it”. As soon as their energy returns, they look again for platforms and people to express their contempt out loud.
How to use anger as a personal positive force?
If we do not identify anger immediately, it can lead us to silence or poison us with cynicism. The damage to our health, productivity, and relationships with people can be devastating. It would be better to go back to that moment, to know how to use it. We need to relive the story to determine what actions we can take now.
Think of someone who has irritated you for a long time. Go back to the moment when your anger was provoked. Can you remember what you expected to get, but didn’t? Consider your emotional needs, such as the need for approval, understanding, or respect. What did you need the most or what did you want the most at that moment and were you surprised or hurt when it didn’t happen?
The intensity of the anger we feel shows us whether it is worth keeping it or getting rid of it. Sometimes we can recognize that our reaction did not coincide with what we intended. A friend tried to help us, even when we felt humiliated. A colleague did not steal the promotion from us and may want to talk to us about it. Our parents loved us, they did the best they could with what they knew. If we realize that their intentions were not to hurt us, we may want to get rid of our anger.
Releasing anger means that we have chosen to feel differently when we remember a specific event that caused anger in us.
Most people work in a toxic environment. When they feel their anger or resentment build-up, they pick up their phones and look at their favorite photos. It is impossible to be angry when you laugh or feel love.
Go back to the moment when you were angry. Can you use humor or love to resolve your frustration? This is the way we get rid of our own anger. Let us fill our hearts with gratitude, compassion, or hope. We use curiosity to open our minds. We accumulate emotions when we try to think about something else. We release emotions when we change how we feel.
But if what we have not received is of great importance to us, then we retain our anger. We use the energy of anger to activate change.
Can you ask about something you need? Admit to the other person how you felt about a particular conversation and what you would like to see happen in the future. Or, is there a change you need to make that you were afraid to face? Set a specific date when you will take action, even if you are afraid. In this way, use anger constructively.
If we ask for something we need, it does not make us weak. It makes us more powerful.
It is possible that we have a choice of what to do at the moment when the anger is caused. Knowing what kind of feeling anger causes in our body can help us recognize what to do in reality. Is it a blow to the stomach? Do your shoulders tighten up to your neck? Some people grit their teeth. Noticing these reactions at the moment requires exercise, but it is important for mental health. Our skill in recognizing these reactions is the basis of emotional intelligence.
When we stop and see our anger, we choose what to do, instead of allowing our own emotions to choose for us.
Anger was a source of energy that moved me in life when my determination was tested through rejection, disappointment, sexual abuse, betrayal, and even physical hardship.
Stop avoiding anger. It is not necessarily ugly or dangerous. Don’t let it turn into retreat or cynicism. When you are brave enough to stop and look at it, you can better determine whether to release it or use that energy for action. Balance your anger with a passion for what you want to achieve, a hope for a better future, and the courage to stand up for the life you want to create.
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