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Harness your Anger Print E-mail
Gregory Grove   
Thursday, 19 January 2006


In one way or another, most of us are taught from childhood that anger is "bad", that it is something to be controlled or suppressed.

Parents are prone to tell their children: "Don't talk to me like that!" or "Behave! I'm your mother/father and you will not behave in that way towards me" and so on. (As though the fact that we have successfully reproduced automatically entitles us to our children's respect.)

So we grow up with the idea firmly implanted in our psyche that anger is bad! Women especially are taught that it is not ladylike to display anger.

Let's dig a little...

Firstly, if we accept that our creator is all-wise and that he did not bungle our creation, then anger MUST have a purpose and MUST be useful. To say that anger (or any other emotion) is bad is to say that we were created with inherent defects (and then how can we reconcile being "created in his image"?).

Very little good is accomplished on our planet without the energising force of anger to drive it; it was Mother Theresa's rage at the plight of the poor and homeless that drove her to make a real difference. Nelson Mandela was so incensed at the injustices he saw all around him that he was driven to dedicate his life to restoring the balance and eradicating injustice.

Righteous anger (such as when our boundaries are transgressed) allows us to be assertive and to be clear on our standpoint; anger allows us to face and move through our fears; it motivates people to leave abusive situations (or to change them); it produces the energy to get things done, to make changes.

So then, why are we taught that anger is bad?

People in general, when confronted with someone exhibiting behaviour that makes them uncomfortable, will do everything in their power to suppress that behaviour. So when we see someone crying, for instance, we do everything we can to "comfort" them to get them to stop crying because WE are uncomfortable with their tears.

When our children exhibit anger we seek to suppress it for the same reason, even pulling rank if we feel especially powerless: "Go to your room until you learn how to behave."

Anger is no more bad than water is bad; one would not say that water is bad because a tsunami killed thousands of people, and thereafter refuse to shower. So it is with anger - anger is neither good nor bad, it simply is.

However, anger is a powerful energy that can be used for good or bad and it is the misuse of anger energy that gives anger its bad reputation.

We are all familiar with the concept of blind rage - when someone simply explodes and behaves in a destructive manner. We all recognise the behaviour when we see it - threatening behaviour, shouting, finger pointing, abusive language, physical violence and all the rest of it.

But what about those who so fear their own and others' anger that they turn their anger inwards, suppress it?

As mentioned above, anger is a powerful energy and energy cannot be destroyed, so this inwardly turned anger has to go somewhere; it does, and it manifests in many ways. It can manifest in physical symptoms - headaches, backaches, nervous tummy, even as a cancer.

It will also manifest in behaviour - the so-called passive-aggressive. Behaviour such as sarcasm, spite, patronising others, blaming, not listening, smoking, not delegating, inflated view of self, being a workaholic, never satisfied, stonewalling, holding a grudge, alcohol or drug abuse, never getting angry are all forms of behaviour exhibited by "imploders", the passive aggressives.

So what are the primary causes of anger? There are surprisingly few although the permutations are endless:

  • Values and boundaries: If someone challenges or attacks a point of view that we support strongly.

  • Unresolved trauma: If someone behaves in a way that reactivates an unresolved trauma from our past (regression and complexes).

  • Own sore spot: If someone confirms a negative belief that we hold about our self - puts their finger into one of our sore spots (shadow content).

All too often the response to any of the above is to start arguing with the other person in a hopeless attempt to change them - to get them to see things our way, to see that we are "right". And of course if they are doing the same thing the result is predictable.

Anger is also used by many to avoid confronting their own issues. While I am angry with you and seeing all of your errors and faults, I do not have to look at any of my own issues. And by insisting that I am right and that you should see things my way I can keep my anger alive for as long as I want.

So what is to be done?

As with so much in life, awareness is key. If you become aware of what is really happening, what the fights are really about, why you decide to respond to a particular situation with anger and how you manifest your anger, then you have at least a chance of changing your responses.

Embrace your anger. Directed correctly it has the potential to power your dreams.

Watch my web site for details of my upcoming anger workshop. (Feb/Mar).

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