Most people consider anger a negative emotion. I won’t argue. But I had always held a silent, obstinate belief, that anger is good for me, and for everyone. It’s how we use the anger. However, whenever I tried to argue my case, I could not convince the skeptics.
Chance was when a friend, who knew I wanted to explore my creativity in depth, recommended I read the book, The Artist Way, by Julia Cameron. The book is about how we can (re)discover our creativity and nurture our artistic attempts. In one chapter, she talks about anger.
In the worst days of depression, I would get very angry. No, not angry, but livid, berserk, and vehement. I would be in a rage, a fury, and explode. I would throw a tantrum and kick Timmie’s shoes out the door, hurl glasses into the windows, and push the TV over.
I got so angry that I was angry at myself for being angry. I didn’t know why. In the end, I would be exhausted and break down crying. Working with my shrink, he asked me to decipher my anger:
- What was I thinking when I was angry? Did Timmie’s shoes bother me? Not really.
- So why kick the shoes? Because it represented Timmie.
- What was it about Timmie that made you angry? He kept forgetting what I said.
- How did that made you feel? I felt belitted and dismissed, as if I wasn’t important for him
Et cetera, et cetera… Eventually, I discovered that I was not angry. Instead, I was feeling unimportant and abandoned. To solve the issue between Timmie & I we had to address the actions and decisions surrounding the feelings of inferiority. Anger was only the surface.
I feel like I am cheating by retyping what someone else had written, but this was too inspiring to not share. I hope Julia can convince you better than I did, that anger is good for you.
Here are what I consider the best paragraphs on anger excerpted from her book.
Anger is fuel. We feel it and we want to do something. Hit someone, break something, throw a fit, smash a fist into the wall, tell those bastards. But we are nice people, and what we do with our anger is stuff it, deny it, bury it, block it, hide it, lie about it, medicate it, muffle it, ignore it. We do everything but listen to it.
Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected.
Why? Because anger is a map. Anger shows what our boundaries are. Anger shows us where we want to go. It lets us see where we’ve been and lets us know when we haven’t liked it. Anger points the way, not just the finger. In the recovery of a blocked artist, anger is a sign of health.
Anger is meant to be acted upon. It is not meant to be acted out. Anger points the direction. We are meant to use anger as fuel to take the actions we need to move where our anger points us. With a little thought, we can usually translate the message that our anger is sending us.
“Blast him! I could make a better film than that!” (This anger says: you want to make movies. You need to learn how.)
“I can’t believe it! I had this idea for a play three years ago, and she’s gone and written it.” (This anger says: stop procrastinating. Ideas don’t get opening nights. Finished plays do. Start writing)
When we feel anger, we are often very angry that we feel anger. Damn anger! It tells us we can’t get away with our old life any longer. It tells us that old life is dying. It tells us we are being reborn, and birthing hurts. The hurt makes us angry.
It could be frustration, hopelessness, sadness, discouragement, disappointment, and loneliness. Anger overpowers and overshadows these emotions and we lose sight of why we are angry. We know only to suppress the anger.
Sloth, apathy, and despair are the enemy. Anger is not. Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend. Not a gentle friend. But a very, very loyal friend. It will always tell us when we have been betrayed. It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves. It will always tell us that it is time to act in our own best interests.
Anger is the firestorm that signals the death of our old life. Anger is the fuel that propels us into our new one. Anger is a tool, not a master. Anger is meant to be tapped into and drawn upon. Used properly, anger is use-full.
But take anger as a signal, a guide, a direction, and use that motivation to catalyse the change we have been dying to make in our lives.
Anger is not the action itself. It is action’s invitation.
What is behind your anger?
Every time we feel angry, we must ask ourselves: why? What is the emotion we feel under the anger?
Spend some time to dissect your anger, and you might be surprised at what you might find out about yourself…
But before that, in response to popular demand and requests, check out the pair of Angry Birds shoes I wore for my first dance on the wedding day! Haha!
Great post Noch,
I think anger is an essential form of self-expression. If it teaches us about ourselves, then it serves its purpose. In my life, I usually suppressed anger. I’m sure it isn’t very healthy for me. I guess a good place to start is to invest in some Angry Birds shoes… 🙂
I suppressed lots of anger too, and eventually bursted. Thanks for sharing your views here and always being my avid reader. I’m so sorry I still haven’t had time to go visit your blog again. So many things have come up in the last few weeks after the wedding to deal with, and so many things I want to do but don’t have the energy to yet. Learning patience and not let my impatience turn into anger haah
And definitely Angry Birds shoes!!!! What’s your size, I’ll check to see if they have them and send you a pair!!! 🙂
Ha ha, thank you Noch! I’m sure I’ll find a pair around here somewhere. Thanks for the kind offer though!
You’re right – anger is good. In fact, it’s much better than apathy or feeling numb. As you said or what is typed – it’s a loyal and honest friend, and it brings a surge of energy. I think what’s important is how we use it or deal with it, as things that are broken sometimes they’re not so easily healed or repaired.
I use anger to fuel my thoughts to think of solutions to situations and problems. By itself, my angers are useless, because all it does is just make me fume and balk and bawl, and in the end, nothing gets done. And that irks me even more…
Identify it. Use it. Control it. It’s very, very good. =)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. How are you doing? Dude I owe you major replies hahaha! Thanks for being patient and not getting angry at me :p
How is your blog redesign / revamp coming along?
You point out a great thing – how to use the anger. It’s lots of energy. Kind of like water energy and using that rush to churn electricity or something ahha
Take care, and hi to your wife!
Ah no need to get angry la – what for – you’ve been busy with wedding and marriage life, and probably honeymoon and the like ON TOP of writing articles etc…it’s okay la, no pressures – we just do what we can.
Well about the major revamp – pop on by to NigelChua.com and see if it’s better =) I’ve lost quite a bit of traffic and ranking, but in the end, i am very happy with the outcome, and will slowly work from there delivering my best writings =)
Yes, I try my best to not waste anything, even feelings such as anger, sadness etc, and “spin” it into something more useful e.g. calling someone, sending that email, writing an article etc. Might as well make full use of that energy hahaha…
How’s marriage life been? How’s Timmie been? I’ll send Louise your regards! =)
I like the new layout!!! And green is my favourite colour. Sorry to hear about the ranking though, but I’m sure it will come back in no time, just write your heart out!!! 🙂
That’s funny, I was feeling weird just now, and decided instead of hiding in my room on my bed, I took the computer out and sitting in the cafe and logged on to my blog, using the energy to read other websites 🙂
Marriage life is ok, not much change yet haha. Timmie has been super busy!!!!
Hahaha I’m glad you’re liking the new layout…and color! It took Louise and myself a couple of tries before we settled in on green (blue was a strong contender haha) =p.
The ranking dips and stuff is okay, I write as real and as much as I can to share and make the world a better place, it’s for people to read and not just for bots and ranks and whatnots only…though sometimes I wish it was better =D
Yeah, the ability to convert emotions/feelings to workable energy is often amazing and fun, and it can get really productive too, so let’s work hard together! =)
Wedding is but a day, marriage is forever, Nochie. Take your time. Enjoy. Love. It’d be fun, there’ll be okay days, good days and some shitty days, but all in all, will be good. Dwell on the good. =)
Glad green won!!! It’s got that serene feel to it. Do you offer any “service” through the website, as in counselling and things like that? we haven’t met but you have got that happy warm fuzzy feel and I think many people would like to talk to you and hear your advice!
I’m neglecting my blog a bit these days, trying to focus on my book proposal!!! Argh! Mentally drained… 🙁
But I’m feeling less anxious when I neglect my blog. I know everything has it own good time.
Hahahaha – Timmie read your comment and said “oh dear thought the shitty days were over” :p
Haha glad you like the green =)
Well…currently I don’t offer any counselling service online… hmm…should I? Hmm..food for thought…well I think in our case, I do feel that there is a connection though over such a distance. Something “clicked” in my heart and pointed in your direction, don’t know exactly what, but I’m glad that I can give that sense of warm fuzzy feeling =D
A book proposal? That sounds great! Hahaha, everything has its own time and tide la, slowly la girl, you’re just married le! Have fun, eat some chocs, read a good book, snuggle with your beloved and your bear-bears, and smile.
Eh…hmm. About shitty days ah…time to love…time to cry…time to laugh…Timmie, I learn something about my beloved wife with every passing moment. And good or bad things that I learn about her, I love her more. I can assuredly share that I love her more and more. It’s in the incompleteness that we find beauty, love and peace. It’d be okay, as long as you stay committed, communicate, and choose love.
It’s a great time to live!
You always lift up my spirits. We haven’t met yet and one day I’m sure we will, but I imagine you as always laughing and chuckling, and like a fuzzy wuzzy bear 🙂
Yeh, thanks for reminding me to take it slow. Got to. A bit tired these days!
Glad to be of service, Nochie =)
I’m pretty sure our paths will cross one day (hoping too) and I do try to laugh and smirk like no one’s business =p (interestingly, that’s how my wife describes me – a fuzzy wuzzy bear – what’s this???? Hahaha)
Drop me an email anytime (now got to drop at my urban-rehab.org email ok, my nigelchua.com email is a little cranky =p) to say hi…or for no reason at all! =D
Heya Fuzzy Wuzzy Bear hahah
Got your emails. Will reply soon. Hope the servers get fixed soon 🙂
Haha! Erm…I’m no techie…so…it’s gonna get fix one I get it right… =P
Good luck with it! 🙂
This was an extremely well written post on how we can use anger to serve us. I agree that we can use anger to help us drive into action. As I think about it, there are many ‘unhelpful’ emotions such as frustration for instance, which can be used positively. As long as we are mindful not to take out such emotions on other people, to ensure we do not harm others.
Thanks for coming over to my blog! Good to hear from you. And yes, letting out our emotions is one thing, but as you say, we need to be careful not to harm others – that’s why I only kicked Timmie’s shoes and not burn them hahahaha
It’s an art to channel “unhelpful” emotions into positive energy. But it can be done, once we know ourselves
Again, thanks for sharing
[…] Agno gave a succinct explanation as to the reason why self-awareness would facilitate change. He pointed out the fundamental importance of self-awareness with profound conciseness when I […]
OMG! ANGRY BIRDS! I LOVE ANGRY BIRDS! Sorry lol
This is really inspiring and reading what you’ve wrote it’s made me think of things and it feels as if things are starting to make sense. I always saw anger as something scary and evil and everytime i felt angry i would shout at everyone and i feel so guilty. My mum understands which is good and when she gets angry i understand too. but shouting scares me and paralyses me even. Is that anything do with whats wrong with me? Is it being super sensetive to sound? 🙁
Haha angry birds is good therapy
I think it depends on how we channel the energy from anger. I write so well when I am angry ahah. But I don’t like being angry. These days I try to understand what is behind my anger. I got sensitive to sound too and had to stop going out to busy places because of people and sound. It’s probably a phase, I am Bette now but sounds and crowds trigger my migraines so I don’t go out much either. Only see one or two friends in quiet places to keep up social contact, ehich would help the recovery
Aww you get migraines? My auntie gets those and especially when she eats dairy products for some reason. Good you keep social contact, otherwise you feel alone and everyone drifts apart, thats happened to me before, so i’m trying to see my friends as much as we can spend time together and when i’m having days where my anxiety and my depression isnt as bad. I like those days very much! 🙂 Yeah, feeling anry makes you feel like a monster and its a horrible and exhausting feeling. I also do that, i try to look behind all the reasons that could trigger my anger and work on them. 🙂 I hope things start looking up for you! 😀
Glad you do some self reflection too! That is important 🙂
Yeah! 😀 Thanks.
Looking back at this…if I think about anger now…I boil up with rage just thinking of thw word…infact my anger eats me up and I can no longer even think about how it’s triggered everything and I mean EVERYTHING makes me angry, even people comp0laining about their problems makes me angry, I’ve sunk THAT low…it’s as if…I can only think of myself and no longer care about others…I’ve become apathetic of other people and their problems…I get mad when they say how bad their day was…I’ve stopped being understanding, then again I was always bad at understanding others but my own self or someone who experienced things as I have…I feel like a horrible person, I’m snapping 24/7…I used to snap at everyone as a child, 4 years old I was a bitter child, no reason behind it, I have a good, loving and supporting family…but I bitterly resent my brother, my happy thoughts are of strangling him, making his eyes bleed and doing awful, awful things…I’m a monster and I’m so selfish! I hate helping others now and hate other people and their problems…I mean I do have my OWN problems and I don’t have to worry about them, need to get myself sorted otherwise I wont be any good to others…but I no longer care about others…and any positive feeling i could have…is numb and there is so much apathy and carelessness…I used to push people away when i was really little and one minute I would be nice to someone, the next completely hate them…and this is usually over a little thing they did or nothing…everything is going tits up…
Maybe your anger at others can help you understand mo about yourself? What about them makes you angry? Dd they say something or do something? How did it make you feel under the anger?
Hope you hang on in there
Well they say stupid things and make jokes about everything. I dunno I just get irritated so easily! 🙁
Me too Amy, I get irritated easily. My shrink taught me to think about my irritation afterwards, was my response proportional and slowly I can manage my emotions. Also I am less offended now when people say ‘stupid’ things. Rather I empathize with them and know they do not understand, so I don’t angry at them for they do not know….
[…] I write anymore. Is it a continuation of my therapy, so I may become more self-aware and channel my anger into energy instead of tantrums and violent destruction of vases and cups in the home? Or am I […]