Is anger ok?

As I reflect on a week that has left me, and I am certain many South Africans, reeling, I wondered what to the hell to write today.

I know that I cannot act as if nothing happened or that I don’t have raging emotions about what transpired. All the senseless violence, destruction, looting, damage to our economy and environment has certainly left me infuriated, to say the least.

$#!$* words found an entirely new meaning in my vocabulary and as I struggle with this anger I am almost ashamed to discover yet another emotion cowering silently in a dark corner – fear. This makes me even more infuriated.

Why should I feel afraid within my own home? Why should I be wondering how to protect loved ones? I live in a decent neighbourhood, I pay my taxes. Why? Why? Why?

It did not take long for a resounding “why not?” to echo back. Why not me when so many across the globe, no less deserving than myself, face these issues on a daily basis. Am I truly any more worthy than them?

This leaves me even more frustrated, yet when I am able to disengage ego for a moment, I feel truth resonating through my very being. Yet I am not ready for this question. Not today.

Just not today

I don’t have answers to all these questions and I don’t know what the future holds. What I do know is that anger is far too often frowned upon by society, resulting in us having to disguise our anger, hiding it beneath masks, requiring us to smile and pretend until it seems that we do not feel at all. The walking dead comes to mind.

I know that anger, often frowned upon, is a very normal consequence arising from us interacting with our environment. It’s simply called LIFE. The problem is that we seldom know how to process anger or rage; it’s certainly not taught or spoken about much. The consequences of hiding, however, cannot be ignored.

I know that as hard as it may feel, it’s not my anger or events of the past weeks that will define me. It is what I choose to do with these emotions that will have the longest and most crucial impact on me, my life and my future.

What to do with the anger?

Marc Steinberg states that we can see anger as vital energy waiting for a creative purpose and that although there is a negative perception in society regarding anger, if channelled in the right direction deliberately and constructively we can reframe anger and transform it into passion, thereby unleashing tremendous energy.

He talks about anger energy being a core energy state, that anger energy is triggered by our fight, flight or freeze response to situations that spark anger and have become society’s conditioned label for the energy generated by the R-System’s (often referred to as our reptilian brain, the oldest part of our brain responsible for heart rate, temperature, breathing & balance) flight-fight-freeze mechanism.

Reptilian Brain

Flight energy makes a person run or escape. Fight energy makes a person engage and attack verbally, emotionally and physically. Freeze energy makes a person go into withdrawal and denial. 

Essentially there is a significant amount of energy generated when anger arrives on the stage of life and we can use this energy to fuel our passion rather than allowing it to consume us, threatening to drown us in darkness and bitterness.

Think about it, are you ever bored when you are angry?

Definitely not, you are a live wire and you can literally feel the energy within.

Choose

“Choose wisely”, they say.

“It’s damn hard”, I say. “I want to hold onto it. I feel justified and entitled to my anger”.

“At what cost”, whispers my soul?

Ego’s “hanging on” risk

Suppressed anger is the most dangerous and toxic emotion of all. If allowed to fester over months and years it will literally poison your health. Anger energy must go somewhere and if not managed it will internalise and turn its ugly head on you when you least expect it.

Often deep sadness, even depression, are linked to continuously suppressed rage or anger. Sadly in today’s times, sadness or depression seem to be far more acceptable emotions than rage.

So what do I do with my anger?

Honestly, I cannot truthfully answer that right now. It still feels defensible to hang onto it. Surrendering my anger feels too much like condoning these horrendous events. I cling stubbornly, even though I know it does not serve me. The ego is in control and insists that its righteous anger cannot be ignored, it insists on being heard.

I struggle to silence this voice, I clench my teeth at night, I replay the unfairness of the situation in my mind, I wake up exhausted.

I would be lying if I told you that I am over it, that the tears clinging to my heart have dried and that life has simply “flipped” back to normal. I am not sure whether, at least for me, the new normal will ever be quite the same again. I guess as with COVID, some events leave life altered in ways that continually remind us it can happen again at any moment.

What I know

I will not allow these events to steal my soul, my faith or my gratitude. I will choose to focus on the incredible humans I am surrounded by. Our friends, people in our estate and in our community. Those amazing humans who risked their lives to ensure the safety of others – opening their homes, offering food and standing together irrespective of race, colour or creed to protect each other and taking a stand for our incredible country, for everything that is possible when we choose each other above greed, money, power, politics and inflated egos.

We all have a choice to make – how will we channel our anger? Will we allow it to eat away at our souls and turn us into people we could not have imagined possible a month ago? Or will we use this anger energy to unleash our passion for what is right, what is good and worth standing up for, worth believing in?

We are, in the end, defined by our choices.

Which wolf will you feed? The one filled with love and forgiveness or the one filled with hatred and anger?

Which wolf?

We may choose to disguise it or ignore it, however, when we choose to embrace it, anger can be one of the most positive emotions to experience – Maya Sunetti

 

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