Image by Vanessa Pike-Russel
Anger is valuable in helping us change for two reasons.
It is one way of knowing what is important to us.
It is the energy to initiate.
1. Knowing what is important to us.
We only get angry about what is important to us. Something that is not important to us we either don’t notice at all or simply ignore – we won’t get angry about it. For instance, I have a great disinterest in fashion in clothing. My ideal is something I can where all the time so I don’t even have to spend a second thinking about it. The closest I have got so far is polo knit tops and chinos in shades of blue. Both of these also don’t require ironing. If someone told me I have no fashion sense this would barely register – I just don’t care. If someone else was told they have no fashion sense (say someone who has dedicated their lives to making beautiful clothes to enhance the lives of those who wear them) they might get very angry indeed. They may care a great deal about their sense of fashion.
So if we are angry we can be sure we care about something. If we don’t know why we are angry it is well worth stopping and finding out; we will learn about what we care about. We may learn a lot about what we value and so where change would be valuable. Our anger can provide us with information about what we want to change and the direction we want to move in.
2. Energy to initiate.
Whatever else it is anger is energy. When we are angry we want to move, to do something or change something – we certainly don’t want to sleep or just lie around.
So it can be the energy we need to take the first step on a new path. For instance I may wish to start a health routine (say jogging or qi gong). This will mean developing new habits and a new lifestyle to some extent. This is not easy to do. I will encounter all the usual demands (after all my life is already full).
Anger may help to overcome this inertia. I may decide for instance, “I’m not going to let the damn TV ruin my health!”. Which may help me to stop watching and get up and go jogging or do some qi gong.
It seems to me that anger is a valuable resource when we want to change.
It also has to be said that anger is not the only way. Anger focuses on the present or past. We can be drawn to change by a vision of a future that we desire. Or we can focus on the joy we have in one particular activity or part of our life.
And I don’t think anger works long-term. It is very valuable to initiate a new activity, to take the first step. After this we need to be sustained by the joy of what we are doing. The path we set out on needs to feel good and nourish us. Long-term, in my experience, people who rely on anger end up drained, and sometimes quite bitter.
Have you found that anger has helped you change? How do you relate to anger in your life? Have you found that other ways are more useful in helping you change? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments.
I have a course, “Designing a Long and Healthy Life“. It is not me telling you what you should do but a guide to assist you in developing a healthy life across all dimensions of health (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social). It is a course that helps you ‘put it all together’ – or at least gets you started on doing so. It is 12 emails delivered over six weeks. You can sign up for it by leaving a comment on this post (I don’t have an autoresponder yet). You can read details about it on my Newsletter page.
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