How many blogs and social media posts have you read this week that have talked about the power in being positive?
And how many of those have caught you in a (rare I’m sure) moment of frustration and made you want to throw your phone across the other side of the room or at least roll your eyes in frustration?
I know. I hear you.
So how about we do something different with this week’s blog post and instead of being all love and light and sparkles, we actually let ourselves get angry.
Then when we get angry, let’s not cast it aside or claim to be anything else, let’s delve even deeper into it to get through it the hard way.
Interested yet? Let me explain…
Me and my anger list
As you’ve no doubt figured by now, I’m big on the idea of lists – especially when those lists are all about the amazing things in life I’m grateful for. But this week I’m inviting you to write a list with a difference…
You see, early last week I was in a bit of a bad mood – I was tired, pre-menstrual, the sky outside was grey and I’d let myself be caught up in the drama of one situation just enough to really piss me off. It’s not a mood I get in often anymore, but when I do… well it’s not much fun for anyone. I don't think my little internal anger man like the one in Pixar's Inside Out (above) even enjoys those meltdowns!!
Because you know how it goes; once you’re pissed off with something, every. little. thing starts to wind you up until you manage to step back, give yourself a shake and pull yourself out of the huff that you’re in.
This time though I decided to tackle things differently and jumped into the pissed off-ness head on. Brave I know – or maybe stupid!
I grabbed a pen and a bit of paper and wrote down everything that was getting on my nerves. And weirdly the list turned out longer than I thought – like, a lot longer.
As I gave myself permission to recognise the things that were making me angry, it seemed like more and more of them spilled out onto the page – from the urgent (the email I’d just received that needed urgent action) to the long-term and slightly buried (someone who kicks your seat all the way through a flight) – and before I knew it I had a page full of things that pissed me off.
Who knew after all these years of extolling the (admittedly fabulous) virtues of gratitude listeng that all this time I’d been missing out on an angry list?!
Reading back over that list was pretty damned satisfying in itself; who doesn’t love a whole raft of things to feed their anger when they’re feeling pissed off?! But actually, it proved pretty therapeutic too.
Partly because it got it all out of my head and my body, but also because it made me actually think about that anger and confront it head on for myself. And here’s what I found...
Half of the anger wasn’t mine
For starters, reading back over them there in black and white made me realise how many of the things that were making me angry weren’t actually mine to be bothered about, never mind to let get to me.
You see, like so many of those people who have been trained to be helpers, carers or good girls; or who have worked so hard to open themselves up to their own healing and development, I have a tendency to carry other people’s problems when it comes to those I care about.
And that’s OK… as long as you know when to let go. And although that’s something I’m usually pretty good at, every now and again it builds up.
Because how many of the things on your list are ones you’re only angry at because you’ve heard other people get angry at so many times before that you’ve taken those feelings on and claimed them as your own?
So if you’re feeling angry at your friend’s husband for not paying her enough attention; or at your partner’s boss for piling too much pressure on them then stop and think about it.
Is that your anger to carry? Or is it yours to listen to from someone else while they get it off their chests and work out what to do with, and then for you to let go of and walk away from?
Doing that doesn’t make you a bad friend or a selfish partner, it just makes you – and I say this with much love – sane.
Where’s the fear in the anger?
Then I started to think about the reasons those things were making me so angry in the first place.
You see I’m a firm believer that every feeling we have comes from a place of either love – peace, calm, and growth; or fear – stuckness, frustration, worry and ego. So actually what was the fear behind each of these things that was making me so pissed off?
The shitty email I’d received? My panic was actually that someone would think I’d messed up and I’d be thought badly of as a result, or maybe that I’d have to do so much extra I wouldn’t finish working in time for the nice, chilled evening I had planned and was really looking forward to. Whereas if I was assertive about it and explained firstly why this was a problem, and secondly what my boundary was for that day? Well that set the boundaries that are oh so important for keeping myself safe and less stressed.
Dawdlers in the supermarket? They piss me off because I’m constantly in a rush and worried I don’t have enough time… so maybe instead I should be slowing down and appreciating the world?
Finding the fear that underpins your anger won't make it go away, but it will give you more of an understanding, and help you to own that shit all for yourself.
What to do with anger
Right now we live in a world where anger is common; and after five minutes of watching the news could you blame any of us for that?
And hey, anger is important. It’s even healthy just as long as you let yourself feel, understand, express and move forward from it. Because otherwise it will get stuck… and the only person who will really suffer from that? You.
So if you’re feeling pissed off then sod the love and light; dive in and feel the shittiness and anger, kick a proverbial cat (not an actual cat – or anything living for that matter, go find a punchbag or a drum kit!) and you’ll find it waaaaay easier and healthier to move on.
Where your anger is justified and healthy – because sometimes it is – can you express it, if not directly to the person at the root of your stresses then maybe by writing it down or speaking very frankly with someone else (I can’t tell you how many counselling sessions are used for just that purpose. And that’s OK.). However you choose to do that it’s important to let those feelings out before they build up in you.
Anger is important, and it's part of who we are. But it can only really be worthwhile for us if we're brave enough to step in and face it head on rather than hide from it or cake a layer of love and light over the top every time it rises up.
So next time anger hits? Do the brave thing... face it head on.