Friday, September 7, 2018

Anger's good side

It's clear to me that there's a large amount of anger in our country right now. And no wonder, really. We are experiencing many changes—in our economy, in what we consider "civil discourse," in norms that we'd come to expect (for example, that it was safe to go to the mall or a theater), in some of our institutions and so much more. And many people still struggle to replace lost jobs and income, to get by on less and to hang onto what they consider "the American dream." Add to that all our personal struggles with illness, career, relationships and more—and it's no surprise we experience anger.

Anger in and of itself is not bad. Anger is a necessary emotion, in fact. It can remind us that we've just witnessed or experienced injustice, and so it can serve as a call to action. It can protect us, reminding us of danger and the need to create safety and boundaries. Anger often has messages for us. It may flag to us that we have some unresolved grief and loss issues, things we've not acknowledged or grieved yet. For example, I just read about a woman who had completely buried her grief and pain about being raped 50 years ago (at a time when she knew she'd likely be re-victimized if she talked about it to anyone).

What we do with anger is what's important. Notice it. Acknowledge it. See what lessons might be learned from the anger. Do you have grief you've not faced yet, for example? Is it telling you that you need better boundaries with someone in your life? Once you have gleaned the lessons, let go, let go, let go of the anger. You definitely do not need it anymore. It'll be a ball-and-chain if you hang onto it.

It's essential that we learn to deal openly and healthily with our anger—not that we suppress it but also not that we use it to lash out at others. It needs to be processed. And then, shed.

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