Everyone knows that anger is a destructive emotion that causes all kinds of harm—to ourselves, to other people, and the world at large. Yet despite our knowledge that anger is unhealthy, and despite our best efforts to get over it, sometimes we get stuck in an angry rut, and we can’t seem to let it go.
The good news here is that anger is a powerful energetic force, and it contains tremendous intelligence. Normally we think anger is just this terrible, immature emotion that we should never experience, that we should be beyond that. Yet if we can utilize the energy of anger, riding its energy rather than it riding us, the possibilities for positive change are huge.
When you’re stuck in anger, try flipping it around in a kind of “anger energy aikido” and use it to fuel your path of personal growth. Rather than adding further negativity to the negativity already present in anger, get busy making use of that anger, uncovering the energy and intelligence buried there.
1. Exercise Your Anger
Take your anger out for a workout. Use the powerful energy in the anger and go to the gym, get on your bike, or go for a run around the block, or whatever your exercise routine is. Channel all that energy into some kind of physical activity, burning it up, rather than letting it burn you up.
2. Play Out Your Anger
Channel your anger into a creative process. Get out the paints, the clay, or the notebook, and start expressing your angry feelings into some kind of tangible, earth-bound shape. This gets the anger out of your brain where it causes all kinds of problems, and into a healthy expression, where it can move and transform into something creative and useful. You might even get insights into the causes of the anger, and this may even help you to let it go.
3. Use Your Anger to Change the Situation
Rather than stewing in anger, examine it to find what’s causing you to be angry, and then change that cause. One way to do this is to use a writing process. Begin by writing your experience down without editing it, just getting all the heavy aggressive stuff out on paper. Then ask yourself, why am I angry at this situation? Reflect for as long as you need, and write out your response.
Once you have some understanding of what’s causing your anger, you’re now in a perfect position to do something about it. The next question is: What can I do in this situation to make positive change? The options will usually fall into three categories: change your response to the situation; change the situation; exit the situation. Think about what possibilities might work best for you and for the situation as a whole, and then take action.
4. Change Me, for You
Anger holds a strong conviction that we are “right.” We feel so righteous when we’re angry, but that righteousness goes to waste because we stifle it with the self-absorption of anger. To flip it around, think of someone you’ve wronged in the past. Think back to a time when you were hurtful to another person. Then pick up the phone, get them on the line, and offer a sincere heart felt apology, regardless of how long ago it was. This may sound like a very weird idea, but chances are that the person at the other end of the line will appreciate your call and they’ll soften up to you, whether they remember the hurt or not. This will flip your self-righteousness around to “other” righteousness, and will benefit you as well as the other person.
5. Get Intimate with Your Anger
The writing process in number three is one way to discover the message in your anger. Another method is to encounter your anger face to face. Look your anger directly straight in the eye and ask it, “What are you trying to tell me? What is it that you need me to see?”
Anger is a wake up call. It’s there yelling at us, “Something’s not right here. LOOK!! This needs to CHANGE!” Fearlessly step into your anger, naked without any filter, and ask it to reveal its message to you. Normally we’re so busy reacting to our anger that we don’t actually pay attention to it. Flip the pattern of running from your it, and face it head on so you can see where it’s coming from.
Normally we think anger is just this terrible, immature emotion that we should never experience, that we should be beyond that. And it is and we should. Yet sometimes we get bogged down in dark states of mind, and sometimes we need strong medicine. And sometimes diving right into the energy of our anger to make use of its creative energy may be just the trip to the doctor we need.
Originally published on Dumb Little Man