as a powerful tool for good??
So I am reading Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree at the moment with my young daughter, and in one chapter the children visit the Land of Tempers.. Everyone is constantly angry, and if you lose your temper there, you have to stay forever. For some reason my daughter thinks its hilarious.. She and I have been having conversations about what anger is, and the different reasons you can feel angry, and its got me thinking..
In the words of Brene Brown:
“Anger is a catalyst. Holding on to it will make us exhausted and sick. Internalizing anger will take away our joy and spirit; externalizing anger will make us less effective in our attempts to create change and forge connection. It’s an emotion that we need to transform into something life-giving: courage, love, change, compassion, justice. Or sometimes anger can mask a far more difficult emotion like grief, regret, or shame, and we need to use it to dig into what we’re really feeling. Either way, anger is a powerful catalyst but a life-sucking companion.”
Of course there’s the kind of anger that is unhealthy and life-taking; shaming someone, blaming someone, bringing out the distorted version of yourself that is acting from your own fear and shame.. And unfortunately we see this distorted anger play out all over the world in dysfunctional, and horrific ways.
But.. what about anger being used for good?
A client of mine recently said “I find myself becoming angry with my partner when he’s not listening to what I need, which is actually a bit of time to myself, without him pressuring me to go the bed earlier.
I’m exploring the idea of anger as a feeling of being stuck. It’s a fight response.. instead of being stuck in the ‘survival’ brain, and the anger response of “this isn’t right and there’s nothing I can do but rage” feeling
calming myself to find a solution – “I don’t like this.. , what’s really happening here and what are my options”
She absolutely nails the shift I am talking about..
And if we went deeper again to really drill into WHY the anger appeared in the first place, could it be because she hasn’t communicated clearly enough to her partner how she values her time to herself and that that is more important to her than going to bed early?
If we can acknowledge the feeling of Anger, and really get into the guts of what information its trying to tell us about ourselves, we can use that big adrenaline boost and shock to our system..
- it can give us more clarity, decisiveness – it can organise our thoughts..
- As anger often strikes when we feel challenged, it gives us the strength we need to get assertive and make ourselves heard. HELLO BOUNDARIES!!
How can we make it work for us? Well, the next time you feel anger towards something, first of all, stop yourself from blaming someone or picking a fight and wait until you are back to Rational Land, then ask yourself the following questions..
- what is the information I’m getting from this?
- what is the outcome that I want to feel?
- constrain the anger and focus it towards some target in the future
This target in the last question could involve better communication with someone about your needs,
or a deeper clarification of your values in order to stand strong in the way you do things as opposed to other friends/family/society..
An example in my own life that I worked through a little while ago..
I find myself getting angry if my daughter and my husband are taking ages in the whole bed/bath routine..
- the info i am getting from this is that I feel my need to control the situation to get her to bed because i’m too tired to deal with a meltdown because she’s overtired
- I want to feel less stressed and attached to the need to control. After all, they’re having a great time and he hasn’t seen her all day.
- so, i will acknowledge it in me, calmly remind them what time it is, and trust that my husband can deal with it in his own way (which he actually always does beautifully..!)
If we do this, and keep doing it until we get comfortable and familiar with the process, we can ultimately use Anger to get a better outcome of something that hasn’t actually been working well for us up to this point..
And then we can access that marvellous sense of growth and deepened understanding of ourselves and those around us..