Why do we cling to things that hurt us?
Hold anger in our bellies like a boiling pan of water
Simmering steam spreading upwards to meet frustration lodged within our throats until it has nowhere else to go
Streaming down the cheeks of another or our own
Emotions transferring exchanging
Instantly regret arrives claiming the moment and stealing it, stowing it deep within the fragile shell of shame who whispers
“Here we are, once again, losing our temper instead of finding a peaceful solution”
*Anger can be a destructive maelstrom that inflicts massive damage on relationships and has very real consequences when left to spew uncontrollably.
Anger is such a nasty emotion both to hold within, and to see erupt in another. It is a painful thing, so why do we allow ourselves to experience it?
I thought of this recently when I found myself deeply angry. I had the buffer there, I could stand back from the emotion and see it’s futility, yet still I was angry. Of course I was, because I was feeding it with my thoughts, tossing another and another – like logs into the furnace of dudgeon.
I couldn’t simply change my thoughts to something more peaceful at the time because I had nothing to write with. All I could do was contain the bomb and walk away. Which is great, and sometimes that is a good enough outcome. Nothing said, nothing to regret.
But I wasn’t satisfied, because there I was an hour later holding a hot coal in my brain that was distracting me from work and moving on to a more peaceful state. I have lain awake at night in the past, out of anger, replaying conversations, having imaginary conversations. Trying to sleep, trying to get rid of the anger, the sense of unfairness or whatever it is and yet at the same time feeding it with my thoughts.
I’m just not a naturally zen person. I can control myself perfectly well on the surface, yet underneath I still become terribly angry at times. Even though I feel this as a personal failure when it occurs, I believe that it is also human. Even the Dahli Lama, when asked, admitted he still gets angry, but he just doesn’t let it upset him.
That’s the stage that I would like to get to – angry but not upset.
Anger is an emotion. We all have emotions but anger is one I have struggled with since I was a child, my Mother would say to me “learn to control your temper or it will control you”. I remember being terrified of my father and grandfather when they lost their tempers. I hate rage. I don’t like it in other people and I don’t like it in myself. It seems so out of control and dangerous, not to mention hurtful and mean. I didn’t want that for myself. So I can control my temper, but it still burns at times, it’s till upsetting. I wondered – how do we get rid of this purposeless emotion altogether? Or if that is impossible, than what purpose could anger serve?
There is something about attaching emotion to a pen that drains the weather system of its energy. So I wrote. It delivered me some interesting thoughts on the question of “what is the purpose of anger?”
It’s actually extremely useful. Highly energising. I don’t think there are many women who haven’t harnessed the power of a good dudgeon in order to clean the house in record time.
I thought about how I could do the same with the dregs of my anger. Just thinking about it was like blowing on hot coals. Ignition. Hell, I could probably get the lawn mowed and dinner cooked without even putting a dent in the energy that was flowing. It made me smile. Devilishly, I had my answer.
So that was angers purpose. Movement. Inspiration. Ignition. Activation.
It’s a waste to use anger on whatever has provoked you, and I don’t thing we should ever use anger as an impulsive reaction. But as an energy? Definitely, anger provides a wonderful source of energy. Suck in a deep breath and set yourself to that task you have procrastinated about for a month. If your temper wanes, throw another thought log on the fire.
The house will get cleaned, the laundry will be done, the car washed and the lawn mowed and you will end up thanking that thing or person that provoked such ire in the first place. You too will smile.
There is a very special purpose to anger. It lifts people out of depression and grief. This is why anger is one of the steps on the pathway out of such situations. Remind yourself next time you are angry that it could be far, far worse – you could be depressed.
Anger can change the world. Without anger activists would not protest, and without anger the world would not change. Without anger we would still have slaves. Without anger women would be unable to vote – without anger all the women that are still living in unjust and sub human experiences will never be free. When I begin to think of all the things that anger has put a stop to in this world, and all the work that it has left to do – I wonder if perhaps I am not angry enough? Has my life long struggle with anger been simply for the wrong reasons. Controlled anger can be a wonderful force for good. A lightening rod for change.
Anger lifts and burns and purifies the spirit – just don’t waste even a drop of that precious energy – save it for the work that needs to be done. And then, like the cleansing fire that it has been, let it die down, and enjoy the peace of the aftermath.
My relationship with anger has forever changed. I hope it will continue to evolve. There is a time for every season, and perhaps a time as well, for every emotion.
Header photo courtesy of Vadim Sadovski Unsplash