“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything.They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
So is wrath a deadly sin or is it a productive emotion?
I say it depends solely on you. Do you deny it? Do you hide it? Do you let it build until it explodes? It is not the anger that is bad, it is how you channel it that matters. There are great benefits to be had if you channel your wrath in positive and constructive ways.
I am going to share with you an example of how embracing anger changed my life. Almost 30 years ago, I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually abused by a member of my church. For years I hated myself. Long after the abuse ended I continued the abuse. Instead of embracing anger, I embraced sadness.
I was sad that someone stole my innocence. I was sad that someone told me that not only was my body evil but deep within me lived an evil that caused men to do bad things. I was sad that I believed them. I was sad that no one heard the words I couldn’t speak. I was sad that when I found the words I was told to be quiet and not cause waves. This lead to years of self-induced abuse, eating disorders, and a horrible inner dialogue. Repressed and unexamined anger is dangerous to not only others but to you.
It isn’t sadness that has fueled my passionate fight on behalf of women who have been abused. It was anger. It was the ability to get really angry that these things happened that led me to fight for other women. It was giving my anger a voice that lead to healing. That has led to change in not only my life but the lives of other women who too have been abused. It is anger that ultimately led to peace. But there was no way around it, I had to go into it. I had to learn to dance with the anger.
Anger provides insight into our lives. Anger can fuel the fire of change in ourselves, our families, our communities and ultimately our world.
“Imagine what the women’s suffrage movement would have been like if women had said, ‘Guys, it’s really so unfair, we’re nice people and we’re human beings too. Won’t you listen to us and give us the vote?”
Social Psychologist Carol Tavris, PhD
Anger can actually reduce violence. Yes, you read that right. It didn’t seem possible but it is true. When people think of anger they automatically think of violence. In fact, statistics show anger is followed by aggression only about 10% of the time. Properly felt and communicated anger can actually reduce violence. Anger is a strong emotion that tells you that a situation is happening and needs to be addressed. If you don’t believe me, imagine a world where anger is never addressed. People have no words to express how they feel about injustice. Watch a two-year-old get angry, they have no words for their feelings, how do they behave? How to they express their emotions? Usually they hit, kick, bite, or throw themselves down on the ground. Being able to really feel and verbally express anger in healthy ways is extremely beneficial.
Anger is physically healthy. When a person gets angry their heart rate, blood pressure and testosterone levels all go up. What doesn’t go up? Cortisol, it actually goes down. Why because we aren’t getting ready to run we are getting ready to fight, to address the issue. The Buddha was right anger that we hold onto does not help us it hurts us.
How do we embrace the deadly sin of wrath?
We learn to dance with it.
We don’t run from it, hid from it, or stuff it. We embrace it! Anger forces us to dig deep. To find creative ways to solve problems. If we are going to really move from anger to peace we are going to have to get our mind focused on problem solving. We are going to have to focus our mind from the irrational to the very focused logical problem solving part of our brain.
When your anger is expressed openly and in a productive way you create a vehicle for change, love, joy, and peace. You recognize what doesn’t work and you find what does. You find your voice. The situation or person does not have to agree with you or even validate your experience. The power comes from finding your voice, honoring your experience and respecting your Divine right to love, joy and peace.
If you are ready to dance with your anger, I am here and willing to be your dance partner.
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