The Flip Side of Anger
Posted August 5th, 2010
I think anger gets a bad rap these days. It’s not surprising that this emotion is feared, denied, repressed and shushed. After all, “anger” has become almost synonymous with “violence” and it’s so pervasive these days, who in their right mind would become a “fan” of that page, eh?
But I was thinking about anger today. And actually feeling a bit sorry for it. I think it’s one of the most misunderstood emotions we have because it spends so little time in the light of day. It’s shunned and left to fend for itself in the darkness, mumbling in the cave and scuffing up the dirt in frustration like a petulant child. I don’t blame it – I’d be a bit ornery, too, if I were that devalued and misunderstood. Because at its essence, Anger is just really another form of energy, isn’t it? Unlike “violence”, Anger is not a behavior, it’s an emotion. It’s an emotion with Tabasco sauce sprinkled on top. And it generally has something for us to hear. Something that’s coming from a deep and meaningful place – like lava rising up from the depths and spilling out over the rim of the volcano.
I’ve been tracking Anger for a while now – in myself and in my clients – and I’ve come to actually appreciate it much, much more. And here’s why: it signals passion, conviction and a willingness to take a stand, draw a line and make a change. For a coach, this pay dirt when working with a client because all of the sudden we have access to a reservoir of potential energy for change that had previously been contained. Someone giving voice to their anger is a powerful thing to witness. Often it unfolds like a fiddlehead in the spring…beginning with sadness, maybe with a pinch of disappointment thrown in, then making its way gradually into annoyance and then finally entering into the realm of downright anger. Upon entry into that often “forbidden” land, I often see clients make passionate proclamations, and then clamp their hands over their mouths, their eyes wide and startled-looking as they kind of giggle at themselves. I love that place in working with clients…helping them to hold onto that which can be slippery and saying, “oh, hi there…well, well, well…what have we here…?” And then we listen. Deeply.
In writing this, I am reminded of that awesome book by Judith Duerk called A Circle of Stones (the very same book that was the inspiration for the title of my blog). In it, she poses the question: “How might it have been different for you if, earlier in your life, the first time you as a tiny child felt your anger coming together inside yourself, someone, a parent or grandparent, or older sister or brother, had said, “Bravo! Yes, that’s it! You’re feeling it!”
It’s about naming it. Honoring it. Bringing it out into the light of day. And listening to what it has to tell you. And then watching as it dissipate back to nothing. What it we were to stand before it and receive its gifts with a more loving and trusting heart rather than running from it, looking over our shoulder with fear? My guess is we’d be a mite more healthy.
What’s your take on it? Go ahead. I already gave the hornet’s nest a big ‘ole kick. They’re going to be angry at me, not you.