Some days are a challenge. Thursday was one of those days for me. I was jammed up in traffic at least three times, held up because of a banking error (that I made), discovered more banking errors by the time I got home that I then needed to deal with, and missed an appointment.
With each succeeding annoying event, my anger went up a notch or two.
To sum things up:
Rough day. Traffic. Late. Money exchange (ARRRRRRGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!)
I felt powerless! I needed to do something with this anger – not just let it fester! When I got home, I used a method I learned from Martha Beck – find some non-abusive way to voice my anger.
Not everyone reacts to feeling powerless the way I do. And if you’re one who does every so often, and if it drains you, here’s how to channel it into energy:
- Give it a voice – Getting choked up and keeping quiet doesn’t work – it doesn’t calm us or resolve anything. You may not be able to say it in a bank or to anyone who happens to be close, but can always write it down, or say it in private, like in your car, or say it to a thoughtful friend. When you do, say it in detail, complete with the expletives and roars. You’ll know when you’re done when you get to the heart of the matter – to what caused it in the first place.
- Discover the injustice – anger is always a response to a perceived injustice. When you give yourself a voice, you will uncover what you feel is unjust. Simply uncovering it may be all you need.
- Once you uncover the injustice, you have 3 options – loyalty, voice or exit (in the words of Albert Hirschman)
- Loyalty, keeping quiet. People who feel a lot of impotent rage tend to act loyal and keep silent. While this may look virtuous, if you’re legitimately angry, it will end up souring your connection to others in the name of peace.
- Voice, expressing your anger. This is harder, but generally more productive than loyalty. To do this productively, you need to both say what’s bothering you and provide a solution.
- Exit, when things are toxic. The best option in a situation that is badly dysfunctional. It may be a toxic relationship, exploitative job or other unjust situation. Anger in these cases is a friend that gives you the motivation to leave. It may mean actually leaving, or simply emotionally detaching if it isn’t realistic to leave at that moment.
- Channel the anger into action – anger can be a powerful motivator to act. It doesn’t have to be huge – taking small steps can be effective in freeing your heart from rage because with that action, you regain your power.
Inside Out” – on Anger and other things
Quote of the Week
When angry, count four. When very angry, swear.