“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.” ~Carl Jung
I’ve experienced many degrees of anger throughout my life.
There’s the fleeting and mild kind of anger that hit me when I realized I forgot to pack my toothbrush, or when a friend was tardy again for our morning hike.
Then, there’s the corroding and strong kind of anger that I felt when I discovered that my husband had been lying to me for months.
Half-truths about his after-work activities and the people he met during those activities led to an affair, and the affair led to more half-truths and bigger lies.
I was angry with my husband for lying, but also with myself for not having noticed the first signs of dishonesty. Later, I was irate for being so naïve to give him multiple chances to change his behavior, only to be deceived again.
Angry thoughts would materialize seemingly out of nowhere, and every time the Angry Monster attacked, I felt the urgent need to hide it away before anyone would realize that I had become prey to this negative emotion.
If I am a good person, I thought, I shouldn’t feel anger.
We grew up hearing that anger is a weakness. Anger is shameful. Anger is like one of those buzzing mosquitoes that must be squashed before it bites us. Anger is a monster. But now I know that’s not all there is to anger.
I’ve learned that anger can actually be helpful if we know how to manage it. How? Read on.
Anger can help you know yourself better.
I understood that the intense anger I experienced when my husband lied to me shows I deeply value honesty and openness. This allowed me to prioritize these qualities in future relationships.
Keep in mind that when someone does something that makes you angry, you have the opportunity to learn what your personal values are.
Also, when anger strikes, take a step back and ask yourself why you’re angry. Are you offended by something that was said to you? This might mean that there is a hint of truth in what the other person said.
Contemplate offensive comments with an objective mind. If you realize there’s some truth in the statement, use it as an opportunity to become a better person. If you conclude that the comment has no real basis, then you can send it to the trash folder of your mind.
Anger can help you raise your energy level and move out of depression and despair.
Based on scientific studies of the energy associated with human emotions, anger calibrates at a higher energy level than hopelessness, apathy, or despair.
My anger propelled me to try new activities and meet new people to show the world I was reclaiming my dignity and my future.
Next time anger surfaces, let it drive you to take positive action and to change the unpleasant circumstances in your life.
You can choose to reject the labels society has assigned to anger.
When you feel ashamed for being angry, as society says you should feel, you let yourself sink to low energy emotions.
Your shame and guilt, coupled with repressed anger, can negatively affect your body and create conditions such as heart disease, digestive problems, and weakness of the immune system. Worst of all, you’ll be unable to experience authentic joy.
One day I asked myself why being angry was such a source of shame. That’s when I realized I had been judging my emotions based on the messages I had received from my environment. These messages were not helping me feel good enough to let go of my anger.
Instead of becoming a victim of society’s expectations, choose to see anger as an emotion that is part of the human experience and a tool that can help you become a better person.
You have the power to select how to express your anger.
Angry people are portrayed as bitter or aggressive, but this doesn’t have to be the case for you.
Kickboxing became my physical outlet to release any residual angry feelings. You could choose to express your anger through journaling, sharing your feelings with a trusted friend, or going for the fastest three-mile run of your life!
You decide how long to be angry.
I realized that although I could use anger in positive ways, it was stealing my ability to be happy.
I knew I deserved to be happy again, so I reminded myself that I had a choice to let go every time my angry thoughts surfaced. Over time, it became easier to return to a state of peace and contentment.
You can choose to take advantage of the lessons in your anger, and then let the feelings go. Tell your anger that you’re too busy making the best out of your time to allow him in your life for long!