How to Listen to Your Anger
Trishna Patnaik, a BSc (in Life Sciences) and MBA (in Marketing) by qualification but an artist by choice. A self-taught artist based in Mumbai, Trishna has been practising art for over 14 years. After she had a professional stint in various reputed corporates, she realised that she wanted to do something more meaningful. She found her true calling in her passion that is painting. Trishna is now a full-time professional painter pursuing her passion to create and explore to the fullest. She says, “It’s a road less travelled but a journey that I look forward to everyday.” Trishna also conducts painting workshops across Mumbai and other metropolitan cities of India.
Trishna is an art therapist and healer. She works with clients on a one on one basis in Mumbai. Trishna fancies the art of creative writing and is dappling her hands in that too, to soak in the experience and have an engagement with readers, wanderers and thinkers.
How to Listen to Your Anger
If you hate a person then you are defeated by them. - Confucius
What if anger is good for you? Remember, it does surface for a reason. Here are 5 surprising reasons you need to listen to your anger:
1. Anger can give you balance
Balance in our personal and professional life provides a perspective that can help us make better decisions. It enables us to see the entire map so we can see where we’ve been as well as where we hope to go in the future. The same holds true of emotional balance. The ability to suppress our anger is not a sign we are emotionally healthy. We can pretend that all is good but that does nothing more than keep an emotion from getting out. And guess what? When you fight a feeling, it only gets stronger!
Bereaved people who make the most effort to avoid feeling grief or anger take the longest to recover from their loss. When we suppress or avoid a negative emotion like anger, our ability to experience positive feelings also goes down. Stress soars and our amygdala, a part of the brain associated with emotions, begins to work overtime.
When you put negative feelings into words, our amygdala calms down! People who openly express their feelings are healthier than those who suppress emotions like anger.
How To Make It Work For You: Talk your situation over with a friend. The more you express your anger in words, the calmer you will become. Or, write it down in a journal, if you prefer. The essential point is this: when you put your anger into words, either verbal or written, it is therapeutic. Remember to notice when the venting is always about the same topic. At that point, you really need to delve deeper into the real problem behind your anger.
2. Anger is meant to make us feel uncomfortable
We live in a society driven by the pleasure principle––there is such an emphasis on positivity that we are unequipped to deal with the other half of our emotional spectrum. If there’s a feeling we don’t like, we try to get rid of it or pretend it doesn’t exist. Our continual pursuit of empty happiness clichés seldom register anything more than a temporary bleep, and then quickly fades away.
Anger makes us uncomfortable and that’s a good thing because it gets our attention. An emotion like anger requires us to sit up and pay attention if we hope to get to the root of it. To fully experience and tap into the wisdom of our emotions, we must learn how to experience the discomfort. Without discomfort, there is no change and no growth.
Those who prefer to feel useful emotions, even when they are unpleasant, are better able to use them in ways that are strategic. People who prefer to feel anger when confronting others tend to be higher in emotional intelligence, whereas people who prefer to feel happiness in such contexts tend to be lower in emotional intelligence. It is a combination: Negative Emotions + Positive Emotions = Emotional Competence.
How To Make It Work For You: Mental toughness allows us to tap into the wisdom of our emotions. Our limbic brain system alerts us to danger in our environment. If we choke off all negative emotions, we also suppress a primal survival tool that has alerted us to threats in our environment for centuries. All emotions can be useful; the key is to regulate them so you can choose the situations which are more beneficial to you.
3. Anger helps you discover your boundaries
Are there situations or people that always twist your stomach into a knot?
People who do not take steps to modify their situation only compound their problems. If they learn how to reframe their circumstances, they are better able to control their anger and other negative emotions. When you imagine an event as though you are a bystander, you will notice that you harbour fewer aggressive and negative emotions
How To Make It Work For You: It is not always possible to turn away from disturbing or unfavourable situations. Some events—the loss of your job, the death of a partner, or an unexpected illness—are not controllable. People can cope with unwanted emotions if they imagine the situation as an impartial observer. Find ways to modify your response—so you can control your anger before it spills out and does make matters worse.
4. Anger can motivate us
Are you angry because you got passed over a promotion? Use that anger to propel you towards a job that will provide more rewards. Anger is an interesting emotion. It is a negative feeling, arousing from cognitive and behaviour responses that are often positive. Anger can motivate a response normally associated with positive behaviour.
If we look at anger like any other emotion, we can find ways to anticipate its arrival and choose how long it hangs around. Consider a positive emotion like joy: if we excavate our own mind and body, we know what will produce joy for us. We create circumstances that will encourage or enhance our experience. We anticipate its very arrival so we’re not surprised when it ultimately shows up.
How To Make It Work For You: When it comes to anger, it’s important to explore in the depths of your mind to uncover what provoked it. The exploration of your anger requires as much honesty and self-awareness as it takes to explore what brings you joy. Both emotions, and your response to them, work hand in hand to form healthy and mature connections.
5. Anger can strengthen relationships
Conflicts and disagreements allow you to learn more about your partner, spouse, child, friend, or associate. Equality in relationships means you work through tough things together. It allows you to see things from the other person’s point of view. When you’re afraid of showing your anger, you signal that you’re not willing to honestly admit your emotions. As a result, you stay away from people or even experiences that might conjure up all unwanted emotions.
Anger can be an expensive luxury. Your anger is sacred. Nurture it and listen to it fiercely.
You will encounter people who use their anger to hurt others, who wield anger like a weapon, who use the fuel of anger in a way that harms themselves and everyone around them. Know that they are hurting and know it is not your job to fix them or entertain them. Offer them compassion, if you’d like to witness them, do so, and then move on.
Nurture your anger and trust it, but do not expect this relationship to be easy. When anger speaks, it is often inconvenient, uncomfortable, and awkward. Yet another reason so many people deny their truths. Feeling very angry and frustrated all the time, or being around someone who is always angry, is exhausting and stressful.
The smarter you get, the more you realise anger is not worth it.- Maxime Lagace
Communicating your needs
Once we understand our needs, we need to be able to communicate them in a way that is requesting rather than demanding. When we demand from others, it can trigger anger (from a perceived loss of status, unfairness, control, etc). Marshall Rosenberg’s non-violent communication is an excellent way of expressing needs. Asking for help isn’t easy. If done well, it is more effective than being angry that others aren’t meeting our needs. Learn to stop destructive expressions of anger. Learn how to use self-awareness and self-control to stay calm, healthy, and protect your valued relationships from injury and hurt.
Listening: Being listened and feeling heard definitely has magical powers. Listening can help us manage our own anger and help others manage theirs. It’s not easy to listen, and we want others to listen to us. Until we have told our own story, we find it hard to listen to others. Once a person understands what is needed, it is much easier to express that need. In a way that need does not get aggravated to unattended worries and emotions. It is addressed in a more mindful manner.
Transforming judgement into compassion
Anger makes us more compassionate and helps us understand how to properly manage the anger. If we see someone in pain or suffering we are drawn towards helping them, if we see anger we move away. The first step is to really understand and acknowledge the depth of emotion. This is true for yourself as well as others. Simply naming your emotion to yourself will give you more power over it. Naming our emotions tends to engage our logic and calms us down. Seeing the need and the loss behind anger makes us more compassionate (towards yourself or the person who is angry).
Compassion also helps us calm down naturally! If we know what the need is, we might be able to address the source of the anger more effectively. If we know someone interprets our being late as a sign of not caring, we need to first reassure them of our concern for them, not explain the reasons that we were late or didn’t call.
But what if we can’t work out why we or the other person are so angry? Well, if someone was badly hurt, what could you do to make things better without knowing what happened? Usually asking, listening and being compassionate work for most things. We don’t need to know all the background just that people act the way they are acting for a vital reason. Be curious instead of been furious.
Explain your anger instead of expressing it, and you will find solutions instead of arguments.