“Anger is meant to be acted on. It is not meant to be acted out. Anger points the direction. We are meant to use anger as fuel to take the actions we need to move where our anger points us. With a little thought, we can usually translate the message that our anger is sending us. “Julia Cameron
When we talk about anger, physical violence is often the first thing that comes to mind. However, anger is simply another emotion, like joy or fear. It does not have to have a physical or a violent component. It can take many different forms. Some of us express our rage with loud and long rants, others let their anger simmer quietly, and others swallow their anger, denying its very existence. What is more important is what we do with our anger. Do we hold it inside, let it eat away at us, or use it against others? Or are there more constructive ways for us to use our anger to achieve a positive result?
Here are nine constructive uses for anger:
1. Use anger as a wake-up call. It can prompt you to examine what exactly is making you react so violently and emotionally. The obvious problem is rarely the problem. We rarely get angry because of one cause. What are the underlying problems or messages or experiences that have been sparked into anger by a certain event?
2. Use anger as the fuel you need to exercise in some way that will dissipate the emotion. It can give you the energy you need to start moving your body. It is very difficult to stay still when all of that adrenalin is coursing through your body. What physical activity will help you to expend this energy in a healthy way?
3. Use anger as a support when you need to do something that is psychologically difficult for you, such as leave a job or a relationship. It can give you the necessary backbone to do what you need to do. Anger can be a survival response that prompts us to fight or take flight. Do you need to remove yourself from an emotionally or psychologically unhealthy situation?
4. Use anger as an impetus to take action. It can mobilize you to lobby or protest against societal or political wrongs. We can get angry because of what we say to ourselves about an event. Do you feel the need to speak out about injustice?
5. Use anger as a force to take a stand. It can give you the strength to insist on your principles and rights. Sometimes we do not stand up for ourselves until we have been backed into a corner and have no choice but to fight back. Do you resent that fact that others use you as a doormat?
6. Use anger as a source of strength. It can give you the resources to perform physically demanding activities. Heightened emotions can power strength that you never knew you possessed. How can you channel this power to take care of tasks that require energy and force?
7. Use anger as a means to an end. It can empower you to leave dangerous situations. We often tolerate the status quo without considering the havoc that it wreaks on us or on our loved ones. Our rage at how our loved ones are mistreated can finally compel us to abandon a bad situation. Are you or your loved ones in danger?
8. Use anger as motivating force. It can help you to muster the courage to make difficult decisions. Constant annoyance can ultimately make us stop waffling and make a choice. Are there decisions you have been postponing to your detriment?
9. Use anger as a crutch. It can give you the fortitude to face your fears. It is never easy to do what frightens us, whether it is scheduling a long-delayed doctor’s appointment, investigating our financial picture or making a life change. What have you been putting off that would benefit from that push?
If we are alive and interacting with others, at some point we are likely to become angry about something. Rather than fighting, seething or swallowing back our anger, it is much healthier for us to marshal its power to take constructive actions that will have positive results.
May your learning be sweet.