3 steps to realizing that anger isn't all bad.
How do we feel about anger? Anger is a powerful emotion that is capable of consuming and hurting us if we don't contain or control it. This is why many people attend anger management counseling classes.
Most of us either try to control and contain anger or we express it in an unhealthy way. But it's not really our fault.
Anger is a normal emotion that's driven by our survival instinct, but we have grown up in a culture that subliminally teaches us that anger is a negative emotion. We learn that anger is the source of the world’s problems, one that makes people do “bad“ things.
Our knowledge and cultural experiences have taught us that anger is an emotion that we must control or repress. It hasn't conditioned us to see the positive aspects of anger and the methods we can use to properly channel it, learn from it, and use it to help us grow and transform our lives.
Unfortunately, our misunderstanding and mismanagement of anger does a lot of damage. Worst of all, it intensifies the negative beliefs that hold us back from our true happiness. Looking at anger as a purely negative emotion is preventing us from achieving personal and spiritual transformation, but we can change that.
How can anger gelp you grow?
If you see the benefits of anger, anger can teach you some of the best lessons. Anger has a PhD, summa cum laude, in your “self.”
Anger is your GPS system that alerts you when you don’t get what you want and when you're moving away from your goals. If you pay attention to its signals, anger allows you to connect with your deepest desires. Hence, anger offers deep insight into your own self and serves as a key to creating meaningful change in your life.
However, anger teaches this only under certain circumstances:
- When you're willing to experience anger without repressing or reacting to it.
- When you're silent and willing to reflect on your feelings and thoughts.
- When you ask the right questions like, “What am I truly upset about?” and “Would my actions be beneficial for me in the long run?”
- When you're willing to listen to these questions and answers without judgment.
Once you understand these principles, you can start practicing the process below and move past anger productively. Below is a simple 3-step process of how to accept and feel your anger, understand its triggers, and use it to grow.
1. Accept and feel your anger.
Become a child again — one who expresses this emotion naturally, truthfully and intuitively. Unfortunately, we try to inhibit that intuitive side of ourselves by rationalizing our feelings in the context of accepted and ingrained social norms. We've done this for so long that we misjudge our true reactions as a problem that we must control.
Think basically. Why is this child angry? Is it because they're hurt, sad, frustrated or lonely?
Accepting the emotional reason for your anger is the first step in dealing with it. Feeling and experiencing your anger is the antidote to avoiding or suppressing it. Denying or rejecting never works. It either emerges as deep-seated resentment and/or physical manifestations (headaches, insomnia, etc.).
Once you acknowledge it, you have the ability to channel your anger positively.
There are a few ways of accepting your anger. Try venting with a trusted friend, exercising or even listening to music that corresponds to that emotion. You can also fix a set amount of time to feel angry at something, like 15 minutes.
The main point here is to feel your anger without judgment. This is not easy and requires the courage to face this forceful emotion while not reacting. When you deeply experience anger, it naturally dissipates.
Which brings us to the next step for using anger as a transformative power.
2. Understand the roots of your anger.
Once you've acknowledged your anger, you can go into your deeper self and identify your triggers. What pushes your buttons? What caused you to get angry? Was it an event, a person, a situation or a non-negotiable belief?
Triggers act like messengers of your deep-seated fears. They provide the signals to spot those insecurities, worries and reservations that sit and wait in our subconscious. To remove these triggers from your psyche, you need to recognize their distortions and correct them.
Only by understanding the triggers and the roots of anger can you move past it and use it to grow.
3. Use your anger to grow.
By accepting and understanding your anger, you are able to look into yourself deeply and see the parts of you that are actively fearful, the things they are fearful of and what triggers these emotions. As a result, you can create active steps to minimize the negative impact certain circumstances have on you, while simultaneously using those situations as practice grounds for gradually overcoming your fears.
For instance, if your anger is a result of resentment, jealousy or being in the company of specific people, you can take steps to first assess why these fears arise, reassess your self-worth and understand how these situations or people affect you. Consequently, you can create the action steps to protect yourself through minimizing contact, communicating boundaries and being assertive. You can also improve your resiliency toward situations that are triggers; you work on letting go of attachments and ideas you hold on to strongly, while creating the space for personal and spiritual growth.
With these 3 steps, anger is no longer a purely negative feeling. Use this knowledge to get to know yourself better and improve the quality of your life.