Get Angry to Find Your Power
What is your story about anger?
Half of my family is hot-headed, New York Italian, so I grew up witnessing anger explosions. When I was little I would cry, be offended, and take it super personally, and over time I unknowingly adopted the pattern of explosiveness myself.
It came to a head when I reached high school. My self-worth was low, so I took it upon myself to defend others against perceived injustice instead of standing up for myself. It was a way of deflecting and not feeling my own pain and anger, so small acts and words that hurt me accumulated over time until my anger would spill out in an act of righteous defense of someone else.
For example, during my senior year I was captain of the field hockey team, but I quit in an explosion of anger during halftime of a game because I believed a select few girls were getting special treatment and more playing time than others who were more deserving. A few weeks later, I got suspended from school for slapping a girl in the cafeteria when she called me fat as I was standing up for a friend that I had witnessed her berating.
At the time, I didn’t realize I had been bottling up my emotions for nearly my entire life. I couldn’t see how much pain, frustration, and anger I was holding onto until it came exploding out of me in ways that felt scary, uncharacteristic, and out of my control.
It happened because anger is taboo in our society, especially for women.
We are inundated with messaging that tells us to play nice, be the “good girl”, don’t rock any boats. Women who are expressive are called “bitchy,” hard to deal with, or unfit for leadership. So we learn to swallow it.
We also witness the frequent confusion of anger with aggression. In my story, for example, I swallowed my pain and anger for so long that it turned into aggression, which I then projected onto someone else.
But aggression and anger are not the same thing.
Anger is a perfectly normal and healthy emotion. Just like any other emotion, it is something that needs to move through us. And like any other emotion, it gives us information about what needs to be healed, what is out of alignment, and where we may need to set boundaries.
Aggression, on the other hand, is what happens when we are irresponsible with our anger: when we stuff it down, don’t acknowledge it, or tell ourselves we are silly or unproductive for feeling that way.
When was the last time you let yourself get really mad, then processed your anger in a safe, healthy way?
In my experience as a life coach, the women who tell me they don’t get angry are the ones who have suppressed it the most. If you are someone who frequently feels stuck or frustrated with anything or anyone in your life, but are also the kind of person who believes you “just don’t get angry,” you’re probably someone who has been suppressing your anger too.
It’s time to give yourself permission to get mad, even if it seems irrational or unproductive or you aren’t even sure who or what you are mad at.
When you let yourself get mad — really and truly mad — by expressing the emotion and moving through it, something magical happens: it loses its power. And often it turns into passion or creativity.
Anger is stored in the same chakra as creativity and passion — the sacral chakra. When we allow ourselves to go there, we give ourselves the opportunity to transform our anger into creative expression or something that is of service to the world.
If you are intrigued and want to start giving yourself permission to process your anger but don’t know where to start, here are some healthy anger processing strategies:
And of course, journaling is always one of my favorite tools. Journaling provides us a safe space to get radically honest, where no one will ever see or hear our thoughts. I often find while journaling my rage, the creative outlet or solution will begin to present itself right on the page, because I am ALREADY in the act of creating just by writing.
(Just like this post, which was the inspired product of a journaling rage-fest I had this morning.)
Here are a few journal prompts to help you start tapping into that space:
The most important thing to remember is that healthy processing of anger means taking personal responsibility for it.
This is not an open invitation to explode onto others, blame others for your feelings, or curse someone out, but to express that anger in a healthy way.
When you take responsibility for your anger, you are able to process and work through it without projecting it onto others. This often happens when you’re on your own, as you create a safe space for anger to move through you without it harming yourself, others, or your relationships.
Taking responsibility for your anger doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you, either. If a conversation needs to be had or a boundary needs to be set, it will come to light in your processing if you are asking the right questions (see prompts above). And then you can have those conversations from a much less emotionally charged space, where you can be thoughtful with your words and really honor yourself in your communication.
Allowing yourself to get angry and taking responsibility for it is an act of personal power (and emotional strength?). And by defying society’s archaic expectations of “ladylike” behavior, it is an act of feminism.
By giving yourself permission to FEEL, you glean all the information you can from the emotion, translating it into something that SERVES you.
Let your anger serve you. That is why it exists.
What masks have you been wearing to avoid feeling your emotions? Get in touch with who you really are and start to peel back the masks with the free Connect + Thrive Journal Guide.