Anger as a Distraction

Meeting with Tom today I realized that sometimes we are dealing with anger all wrong.  We either beat ourselves up for having it or we feel righteous as we vent (loudly) to those around us without thought to the injuries we may cause as we unleash.  When we feel wronged we are supposed to be angry…right?  Right?  Well yes, and no.  Brene Brown (in Atlas of the Heart) discusses how anger is meant to be a catalyst for change but we are not meant to stay stuck in it.  We are supposed to move through it…and through whatever lies beneath its fiery shield.  Tom, like so many of us, was attempting to distract himself from the loss of his mother late last year.  His angry outbursts kept him seemingly protected from the grief and loss that lurked beneath it…seemingly.  Through distracting himself from his painful experience with anger he simply allowed his pain to fester and grow.  Yes there is anger in grief, but it is not the only thing that needs our attention.  Don’t…stop…short….

We are supposed to move through anger and (in my estimation) we are supposed to allow it to reveal the deeper layers of ourselves.  In my experience, the bigger the anger the bigger the wounds that need to be tended too.

It is this tending that will finally allow me to heal.   Anger is oftentimes the path that leads me to that sweetness.

Anger can come from a part of our brains that tells us we need to be angry if we are going to survive this too.  The problem is our brain may not know that we are actually safe and don’t need it to keep the bears at bay.  Thank you brain for trying to protect me, but no thank you.

There are a lot of things that make us angry in our own lives and with the state of the world.  For a lot of you, anger is what helped you (and may still. help you) survive unthinkable abuse.  That is okay and an appropriate response when we are being hurt or witnessing others being hurt.  But we are in control…not our brain stems.  Pause if you can, thank your survival brain for helping protect you, but be clear with it that it needs to stand down if it is causing you more harm than good.

You will inevitably drop your cards…we are only human after all.  The trick is to think like a scientist (thank you Adam Grant), learn from our mistakes, atone for injuries we may have caused, and move on…better and more equipped for the next time our brains go off line.

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