Previously, we have discussed why Fear, Sadness and Shame are actually your friends. Today we are going to talk about Anger. Anger gets a lot of bad press. Executives are sent to Anger Management classes, we talk about Road Rage and Bullying. But Anger, expressed cleanly, can very much be your friend.
First, Anger gives you the energy to confront a threat. Angry people “aren’t going to take it anymore,” they are going to do something to right a wrong or put a stop to an injustice or defend against an attacker, and these people are fired up! That’s important because threats can be scary, and, you know, threatening, and it helps to have the energy that angers gives us to confront them. Without that anger and energy, you can sit there and think and think and think, and rationalize why you’re not doing anything, and nothing will change. Angry people don’t stay passive long.
Second, Anger helps you to set boundaries. When you find yourself feeling Angry, you know that someone or something just violated your sense of boundaries, your sense of what is right and wrong, and you feel compelled to do something about it. Now, Anger can be very consuming, in the moment, but it may well help you in the moment to ask yourself, before you actually run off half-cocked and do something you may regret, “what just happened to violate my boundaries? What do I need to do to address that?” Now you have a clearer idea of the problem, and the solution, and, as noted above, the energy to step forward and act, even when there is risk.
Lastly, Anger helps you to show others you are serious. Clean Anger, as opposed to blind rage (Anger’s very troublesome twin brother), demonstrates your willingness to confront that threat, to enter into conflict and to stay present, even as you get cut and bruised in the fray, and to do what it takes to prevail. Anger can be kinda scary, and when presented with Anger, many people will back down.
The trick with Anger, of course, is for you to 1> Use your anger in pursuit of a worthwhile goal that serves a higher purpose for your values, your community, your family. Scaring people just to get what you want is just playground Bullying. 2> Stay in control of yourself so that you can keep your eye on the goal and move toward it purposefully, so that you don’t find yourself enjoying conflict for its own sake and causing unnecessary damage. Perhaps we can say it like this: Anger is a great Servant, but a really bad Master.
So, Anger gives you the energy to confront a threat, helps you to set boundaries, and show others you are serious. That is definitely a friend worth having, or maybe a trusted bodyguard. Either way, you want someone like that in your corner.