Anger is a tool. Use it.
"For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind."
How many times have you heard the above quote? I'm sure throughout your life you've heard it regurgitated to you in a million different (but similar) ways. Anger is considered a negative emotion. People associate anger with violence, war, fear, and destruction. When we ask other people what we should do about our anger, they answer the question by telling us how to make it disappear. "Meditate. Do yoga. Exercise. Find a therapist. Take a walk. Play videogames."
We are taught to fear our own anger because of its potential to destroy.
Here is what we often forget. Anger is an emotion that comes up when something hurts us or scares us. Anger is a defense mechanism to prevent us from getting hurt. Anger exists to tell us that something is wrong.
But society doesn't want us to be angry. Society would like us to be docile and complacent.
I think that there are a lot of angry people in the world right now. And a lot of those people are trying to forget they are angry and so they numb themselves. They smoke too much weed, or play hours worth of videogames, or they over-excercise or over-eat or over-drink. Because they are fucking angry with the world and they just don't know what to do with the emotion. They think that something wrong with them because they're pissed off. And I used to be right there in that camp too.
But you know what? There's a lot to be angry about. The world is a fucked up place right now. We all are in over our heads and most of us feel like we're just treading water, waiting to drown. But we're not supposed to be angry about it. No, we're supposed to be grateful....because it could always, always, be worse.
But I'm here to say, your anger is justified and it's okay. It's okay to be angry. It's okay to not be okay. It's okay to not be "insta-blessed."
I'm sure you're wondering why I'm writing about this.
As some of you know, I've decided to be more proactive this year. I want to do more, because last year I felt like a little bit of my soul rotted away. That also means that I've been taking time out of my day to watch more documentaries, read more political books, and listen to more podcasts to educate myself.
This means that I've been feeling more angry.
Not just a little bit angry. Really, really fucking angry. The kind of anger I used to shove down and try to forget. The kind of anger that made me feel completely apathetic, to the point where I didn't want to hear about it anymore. And by it, I mean politics of any kind. Rather than deal with the anger, I just stopped listening. I focused on more shallow topics.
So, ultimately, the system was winning. I was angry, but I knew I wasn't supposed to be angry, so it was just easier to consume passively. It was easier to be numb.
But now that I'm making more of an effort to educate myself again, that anger is coming back in full-force. And that's scary, because no one wants to be an angry-cynic ranting at the world. No one wants to be the one at the party that says, "Hey, I know you shop at Walmart but it's a fucking evil corporation." No one wants to be THAT person. I know I don't.
I also don't want to be the person pretending that everything is fine when it's clearly not.
That's where anger comes in.
Anger is a tool you can use to spur yourself into action. And don't be fooled, action is important. Action is what creates change. Anger without action will eat you up. It will destroy you from in the inside. It will tear you apart. Anger without an outlet will force you to turn to unhealthy habits. Anger without action will lead to unfocused, unaware outbursts. You can only bottle it up for so long before it will start to leak into your everyday life.
So, what does action look like? It depends on what you're angry about.
Some examples could be:
1. You're angry at your boss.
- Apply for new jobs, speak to HR Department, meet with your boss, go back to school, take night classes, go on an extended vacation.
2. You're angry with your SO.
- Communicate your needs to them, break up, go to couple's counselling, go on a date, spend more time with your friends, write them a letter.
3. You're angry that animals are still being exploited.
- Go to rallies, make vegan friends, write letters to your local rep, volunteer at a local shelter or sanctuary, donate money to a group you admire.
4. You're angry with the system.
- Consume consciously, educate your friends and family, grow your own food, volunteer with an organization you believe in, run in local elections, lobby for what you believe in, protest with similar-minded people.
You see - anger is a tool to spur on change in your life and in society as a whole. It exists to protect you by forcing you to move forwards.
Of course, anger can be damaging also. If you resort to violence, dehumanizing those who don't follow your beliefs, or extremist actions....you are not helping to the cause you believe in. In fact, you are doing the exact opposite. You will push people away. Think of anger like you would a hammer. You can use it to build a wonderful home....or you can use it to tear everything down around you. It just depends on your intent and how much force you have behind it.
So I urge you to take a few minutes out of your day and think about something that has been making you angry recently. Instead of feeling guilty about it, think about what action would satisfy that anger. What would make you feel more in control of that emotion? How could you harness that feeling to create a positive situation?
I promise, as soon as you take that anger and turn it into a tangible action, that angry feeling will be replaced with satisfaction. And that is the true way to get rid of anger.