There are many situations, circumstances and experiences that can make one feel angry. It’s what we do with this anger that makes the situation worse or better. Lots people are uncomfortable with anger and as a result do their best to avoid confrontation of any kind.
But what would happen if you shifted how you think about anger? Rather than looking at anger as something bad, something to be avoided, and something scary try looking at anger as energy to make a change.
This morning I found myself feeling angry. A new habit has been established in our house of getting up, turning on the TV, and, in my opinion, being assaulted by political coverage. My husband, Chris, is passionate about politics. He eagerly awaits the daily delivery of the latest political news. For me, being hit with a massive wave of negative energy first thing in the morning is soul jarring. And there is another assault in the evening, when unless I protest, several more hours of political coverage is consumed.
I could play junior psychologist and give you my interpretation of why my husband is obsessed by what is going on in Washington. But what matters more to me is why I am choosing to respond with anger. At the heart of my anger is fear that this is a permanent behavior, and it may be. But I am not powerless in this situation. I can choose to remove myself and create a morning ritual that suits me. I can choose to find a different outlet for that energy, like writing this blog post, getting outside, or listening to music. I can remind myself that the only person I have control over and the only person who can change my thoughts and this situation is me.
“Why do I have to be the one to change?” is a common question I hear from my coaching clients. The answer is because you’re the one that wants things to be different. What often happens when that truth is accepted is paradoxical: when you stop trying to make things be different, they change.
For example, this morning I retreated to my office and channeled my anger into something positive with no intention of doing anything other than transmuting my angry energy. Once I started writing, my anger disappeared. Within 10 minutes of my entering my office, Chris turned off the TV even though the show he was watching wasn’t over. No nagging from me, no judging what he was doing. It happened spontaneously.
This is a powerful practice. Sometimes it is done effortlessly and sometimes with great difficulty. There are days when changing my emotional state feels like pushing a boulder uphill or trying to get an ocean liner to change direction. Other days, like this morning, it is easy. What makes the difference is catching the emotion early before it has a chance to grow. Rather than stewing and making Chris wrong for what he was doing, I changed my focus and took action. I looked at my anger as energy that I could use to satisfy my needs.
A great question to ask when you are angry is “Can this energy be used to do something positive?” The answer is always “Yes.”