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Anger, the most reviled and misunderstood of emotions, is the psychological equivalent of the immune system.
It is triggered whenever we perceive injustice, giving us strength and energy to change the status quo.
Whereas the physical immune system may create inflammation (a ‘flame’ in the body), anger is like fire in the soul.
Repressed, it destroys from the inside, by slow burn or explosion. Misdirected, it can blaze a path of destruction through your life and the lives of others.
Cared for and properly used, it can warm you, light your path, fuel your progress, and keep hostile interlopers at bay.
Some people seem to think that an inability to feel and act on anger is a virtue. It isn’t. Most of us know people who destroyed their physical and mental health by staying in unjust and exploitative situations without ever speaking up or taking strong action in their own defense.
After watching Brene Brown’s TED talk again on Vulnerability I’d like to share a little of my own personal journey. I was someone who lived for many years with the inability to feel and/or act on my anger. As a matter of fact I actually had an inability to feel anything! In relation to anger I buried my hurt and resentment so very deep that when it eventually come to the surface as it did and as it should, I was taken back by my intense feelings of hatred. Hatred to me is such an ugly word and to hear that come out of my mouth was both very confronting and enormously powerful.
When you are genuinely angry, it means one of two things.
1. Either something your soul needs is absent, or something your soul can’t tolerate is present. To make the anger go away you have to change this situation. No matter how frightening or irrational your anger may seem, acknowledging that you are angry is the first step toward a peaceful and cooperative connection with the world around you.
2. You can change yourself or you can change the situation that’s making you angry.
A third option, carrying all that anger around with you, not changing anything is a recipe for disaster. Sometimes, the reason for your anger will be someone else. In this case you may have to fight to change the situation.
Here are some rules for doing that responsibly and effectively.
Step 1. Burn off ‘hot’ anger before the confrontation. Use the energy of rage constructively not destructively.
Step 2. Using ‘cool’ anger for energy, confront the person who is responsible for your anger. Tell him or her exactly what is bothering you and why. Use examples to support all generalities. Speak only in terms of your own firsthand experience, don’t moralise, just express your feelings.
Step 3. Tell the other person exactly what you would like him or her to do.
Step 4. Spell out what you will do if nothing changes and follow through.
If you follow these steps it will rob you of the illusion that you are helpless to change your situation. Giving up your illusion of helplessness leaves you staring at the raw truth, that no-one else is totally responsible for your failures and no-one else can push you into the success you deserve.
Thank you to ‘Martha Beck’ for permission to use some of the content from her book ‘Finding Your Own North Star’. When you find your own North Star you experience a real sense of purpose and inner harmony – it’s taken me awhile, doing a whole lot of inner work and choosing to take total ownership and 100% responsibility for everything in my life.
It’s is well worth the journey – the reward is ‘freedom.’
Your thoughts, comments, personal story or suggestions are important to me.
With love and gratitude
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