Monday, October 21, 2013

The 'gold' in anger

Can anger be a useful and positive emotion? How should I see my anger?

I like what my poet friend Martha Adams says about it in her book Peeling the Rind: "Mine the gold in anger." Yes, there is gold in anger.

Your anger is telling you something. As writer Mary Murray Shelton says in her book Guidance from the Darkness: "Anger is our internal warning system that a boundary has been violated. It works like a smoke detector. Feeling angry makes us aware that we want, need, or expect something different from what we are getting, and that this is not all right with us.

"By making us aware that a need exists, anger opens the way for us to take responsibility for getting our needs met in a healthy way. But before we can move to that step, we must first recognize that we feel the emotion of anger and we must express it appropriately."

Awareness is the 'gold'
So there is the gold in anger: making us aware of a need. Pay attention. Bring your awareness to your anger. See what expectations weren't met, what boundary was violated, what you want or need but didn't get. Then make a choice about what to do—an appropriate choice and response.

Be careful to not get stuck in anger, though. Shelton says: "The value in expressing anger is in releasing it from our bodies and minds. Anger unexpressed does not just disappear. It settles into the body and causes stress to the system." She also tells us that anger can become "a corpse we carry around, expending today's energy and creativity in an effort to hold on to yesterday's experience."

Mine anger's gold—and then let it go. That's the positive side of anger.

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