Anger has its purpose and can lead to some wonderful outcomes but anger can also bring out our worst. Anger can be the start of change or lead to destruction. Right now, with so much turmoil happening, it can feel foolish to hope for a future in which we come together again. The splintering of our community feels permanent and unchanging.
Understanding and acknowledging the anger within is a good first step. Sometimes our denial of its existence can be the seed that allows it to flourish. The next step might be for you to sit with your anger and attempt to understand what it is telling you. What does my feeling of anger NEED me to know?
With the anger around and about in the world, it can be easy to be dismissive of others. But if you consider that your anger towards them might be coming from a desire to be understood and listened to, what might be the first step towards that occurring? Most people do not respond well to others when approached from an aggressive place. Thus, the first step in approaching the other is to learn their perspective. When employed well, this is the most powerful way of engagement. To move towards the person with whom you are angry. It takes some time and perseverance to be able to set aside your perspective for a moment and delve deeper into someone else’s view. But the value might be that you reach that person in a way others have not. You might be able to give them an opportunity to hear a different perspective, which they may not even have access to considering their information sphere. Before attempting this, it is wise to think about the following questions: If you were to admit that the person who you are angry with has some credibility and even merit to their argument, how might that change your vantage point? How might it even deepen your understanding and address some pitfalls of your own perspective? If you find that conceding any point of your argument unthinkable, then perhaps you have become too entrenched in your own perspective. It might be time for you to consider challenging your own thinking, going out of your way to read up on other ideas. If you find yourself distrusting scientists or assuming everyone has some partisan angle, it might be time for you to challenge within yourself what that is doing for you. Is it helping you avoid some unsettling realities?
If anger has started to consume you and you find yourself in any of these statements, I hope you will take time to reflect and attempt to learn from it. The lessons anger has for you might help guide you on your next step. Once you have moved past anger you might find that you are really attempting to cope with grief or fear or some other negative and unwanted emotion. The anger might be a means of avoidance. The wonderful outcomes mentioned above come from this reflection and the ways it can empower you towards change. If that change is within, I hope you find the ability to start to learn and open yourself up more. If the anger is something outside of you, I hope you find the courage to confront it and interact with it in different ways. Mostly, I want us all to remember the humans in our lives in need of our love and support. It is within us to defuse their anger by learning to manage our own and making efforts at connection whenever possible.
Wishing you and the people in your life peace,
Manhattan Mental Health Services, LLC