“I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power that can move the world” Mahatma Gandhi
I have written before that I find it difficult feeling, dealing with or expressing anger. I am not inherently an angry person and I hate confrontation. I am generally of a forgiving nature – perhaps too forgiving – and I am tolerant of other people’s up and down moods. However, I tend to put anger in a different category than a simple ‘mood’ and I am prone to associate anger with aggressive, toxic and hostile people.
So if ever I find myself becoming angry, it fills me with angst as I become concerned that I may be turning into an angry toxic person. Then, as I am reluctant to face my anger, my emotions start to twirl around in an uncontrollable fashion.
Having had to deal with a fair amount of anger over the past few years, I have come to realize that the feeling anger has a defensive form and it tends to be this defensive form that is the one that sometimes hits me. Usually it hits me in response to an aggressive action directed at me. In those circumstances my own anger that I feel has actually been the one emotion that is everything to do with defending my values.
Anger is my reactive emotion whenever I have perceived mistreatment, insult or malice. It is the feeling of anger that gives me a sense of justice, and to want to right wrongs. It is anger that leads me on to defend morality. For example, anger is the outrage I feel when I hear about child abuse, racism, mistreatment of women, rape or murder. From a personal perspective, it has been anger that has empowered me to do good in past causes that I have taken on such as the saving of wilderness areas, and fighting for free speech.
Anger is also the feeling that empowers me to become the best I can be. Anger has been the emotion behind my silent protest against what I initially saw as a reprehensible situation, on the collapse of my marriage. Anger planted within me an inner drive to get through the mess, survive and thrive. When I have felt utterly worthless and useless, anger has been the rebellious spirit within me fighting for feelings of self-worth, courage and dignity. Being energy-charged, anger has enabled me to keep going though all the turmoil, through all the mud. When I felt all the values I ever believed in had been violated, it was anger that gave me the drive to fight to maintain my own values, to keep believing in them, and to keep living by them – no matter what. Anger has kept me striving towards a life of moral principles to live by … and to keep doing what I believe is right.
Rather than try and bury anger, which I am prone to do, it is far better that I ask ‘what value do I feel has been violated that is making me feel this way?’ Then with a rightful indignation against the violation of that value, affirm within myself that I will never compromise that value and determine to keep living by that value’s code. Once that value within me is reaffirmed, the course of action out of turmoil into a land of peace and harmony becomes more obvious to me.
This is a third post in a series on feeling my feelings.
# 1. Feeling my feelings
# 2. Recognizing my own feelings