I’m Dr. Chris. As summer temperatures rise, I’m thinking about the habits I’ve developed when I feel the heat of anger. Anger can help us stand up for ourselves and our importance –and it can also run right over the rights of others. How can we use anger to uncover what we really need and want: respect and affirmation that we all matter?
My anger ranges from worry to fury. It is both a beauty and sometimes a beast. It can dream, or silently steam and dramatically scream. Anger looks and sounds different on everyone. But it’s a strong emotion and it’s easy to fall under its bossy influence. What makes anger so powerful? When “anger” shows up it can take over our senses, roaring in our ears, tightening our chest, and even distorting our view. Sometimes when anger shows up it can make allegations and tries to prove it’s right at any cost. When I feel angry my other feelings lose their voice and shrink beneath the strong bossy presence of anger.
Not too long ago something I had counted on disappeared. Anger immediately showed up. The intensity of it caused my other emotions to scatter and hide! Anger tried to convince me to lash out, grumble and protest, ignore good advice from good friends, and hide in bed with a box of chocolates. Eventually my internal “therapist” showed up and prodded me to uncover what else was happening. Why can’t I let go of my anger? And, where was the “positive” outlook of hope that I’m always recommending but is a little harder to practice! I began to contemplate, what’s the role of anger?
Here perhaps is the role of anger: It should wake us up to what else we’re feeling that we wouldn’t otherwise pay attention to. Anger is like the orange warning light inside your car that says, “Something else is going on. Look inside!” Anger with its big, loud mouth, shouts over our other feelings which are big feelings but don’t know how to speak up. True, I was a little bit angry but I was even more hurt and worried. I just didn’t know it. And I need (deserve) to feel all these emotions to preserve my God-given value and self-worth.
Our vulnerable emotions let anger speak for us. Of course they do. They want to avoid conflict. But anger doesn’t always get it right. Instead it translates our fears and disappointments into big loud ugly voices that push everyone away – leaving us isolated and feeling a little ugly ourselves. When I encourage my other emotions to speak up, I attract what I need the most: comfort, connections, and the affirmation that I matter.
Anger can be an important voice –just not the only one. When your world simmers or boils with disappointments it may be an unintentional bad habit to let anger take charge and steal the show. But now, look behind and under this strong emotion and encourage those vulnerable emotions out of hiding. Because whatever you’re feeling – it all matters. Because you and me, and we, all matter.