Lessons In Life Life: Lesson #1: It’s Ok To Be Angry
In this first lessons in life, I consider why it’s ok to be angry.
Recently I have felt a lot of anger arise quickly and dissipate just as quickly. Years ago, I would have suppressed my anger as something that was inappropriate and not to be shown. Then when I couldn’t bottle it any longer I would explode. It felt like an ugly emotion rather than an igniter.
The anger I have felt hasn’t been directed at anyone in the moment; it’s been more that I have been angry at situations that are quite beyond my control.
They have, I realise, been situations which have pulled at my heartstrings, crossed boundaries and my values. Like hearing that a puppy in our village had died of parvo, which could have been prevented had the owners vaccinated it. It hurt to think of that little life gone because of irresponsible behaviour.
But it is much deeper than that.
As a mum of 3 rescue dogs who are my life, what I felt was in reality, what if something happened to them? What if they were not here? I know that one day they won’t be here. They are so precious to me. They don’t live as long as us.
I do whatever I can to give them a good life. I am your typical doting furbaby mum; they have me very firmly wrapped around their paws.
It was the injustice that I was angry about. It was also about a life barely begun, snuffed out in such a terrible way. I felt the same way yesterday when I found a dead kitten in the rambla. I have no idea how it died. I moved it out of the path, made a grave, and said a prayer.
What I am noticing more and more is that, as soon as my anger arises, I reframe. In this recent example, I thought how do I support this family and help rehome the rest of the puppies? It felt good to witness and acknowledge the rapid rise and fall of my emotions rather than to suppress them and to consider what would be a better way to channel that feeling?
I remember, again in our village, a horrible man who thought that the reason I had come to live here was funny.
I’d left a man who was living a double life. One evening I made a horrible discovery, and six weeks later, with nowhere else to go, I came here. I travelled 1000’s of miles to a run-down old house in the hills.
This man taunted me whenever he could. One day one of my dogs had escaped the house and was near his. I came out of the house to see this man dragging my dog up the road. Ferdy was being strangled with his front paws in the air, with his back paws barely touching the road.
It really was too much for me, and a red mist descended. I went mental, much to this man’s surprise and to the surprise of the builder in my house who commented on my swearing and temper.
Was it ok to lose it? I guess it served a purpose. However, I ‘should’ have nipped this man’s nastiness in the bud from day one. I didn’t because I was raw with emotional pain. I didn’t know how to respond, and instead, I internalised it. He was in a bully, a plain, ugly, everyday bully, and I’d just left a bully, and it was just too hard to deal with.
The lessons in life I learned about anger
It’s ok to be angry and to embrace what it is showing you as long as you acknowledge it, let it go and decide on another more productive course of action.
When you reframe anger, there is always something more productive you can do.
Anger is always, to my mind, about something much deeper, and that’s where the exploration needs to be focused.
- When do you notice your anger arising? Think situations or themes.
- What do you learn about your anger?
- Where do you think your anger originates?
- Where do you think your anger is showing you? Think how these things are crossing your boundaries or values.
- How can you reframe your anger so that it is more productive?
Anger reframe exercise
I learned about anchors on an NLP course and decided I would use them productively in my everyday life.
I choose four words for my anger:
Each word was anchored to a finger. When my anger arose, I would press each finger with my thumb, while silently saying the words rage, anger, annoyed and miffed. In a few seconds, I was left barely with an emotion.
As time progressed, I was able to say the sequence in my head until eventually, all I had to say was miffed.
That’s today’s lesson in life, what do you think about anger and how you can use it to do something more productive.
101 days of being me
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