In this article i will be talking about Raising Awareness Around Anger. I know for me personally, anger is an emotional trigger that always causes me to pull out my journal. Why? I’ve found that anger is a very strong emotion. Anger can range from intense and explosive storm to a simmering and smoldering leak. As of late, it’s been everywhere.
Everyone’s angry. People are angry they have to wear masks. That they can’t get haircuts. That bars are closed. That they can’t go to work. That they can’t eat out. That they can’t travel. That the social environment is tumultuous.
The Black Lives Matter movement has recently brought massive attention to some serious faults within our country and political systems, and they’ve been trying to do this for a long time. The Black community is angry. Their anger is justified, understandable and valid.
In response to their cries, a different anger has bubbled up from the white population. Angry because they feel they can’t do anything right, called out, forced into performative activism and having to face hard truths just to name a few.
I had a professor in college who taught Developmental Psychology. I still remember sitting in his lecture, when he said “Listen up, I’m about to give you the quickest and cheapest anger management lesson that you’ll ever get, pay attention”.
He said that most of the time anger is a guise that covers up emotions that are more difficult to feel. And nearly each time, the root cause of feeling angry is perceiving we’ve been disrespected. (*perceiving is in italics, because perception creates our reality).
Now think of a time you were recently angry and see if you can find the disrespect aspect. Maybe you got cut off on the highway (road rage anyone?), and you feel they disrespected your space and time? Personally, every single time I’m angry now, I can trace it back to feeling disrespect. The more you look for it, the truer it gets.
Feeling disrespected is easier for me to manage my mind around, because I can rationalize another possibility and re-frame the situation to help me feel more at ease. Maybe that driver was late to a work meeting that dictated if they keep their job, aah much better.
One thing I try to emphasize in my coaching program is that emotions aren’t inherently good or bad, but they do give us more information. We have to feel them all, yet we tend to villainize anger and then consequently, not want to experience it and push it away. My job as a coach is to help people determine whether anger—or any emotion—is a conscious choice, or if it’s controlling us and we’re reactionary to it.
Anger can be chosen as a means to communicate certain things, and can be quite effective. Imagine someone is picking on you in middle school. The first few times you might politely ask them to stop. But if it continues, you might intentionally choose to bring an angry tone into the conversation in order to get your point across and to be effective.
I’m noticing that the Black community is choosing, with intention, to bring this energy into the conversation. AND THAT’S OKAY. Anger can be purposeful and productive. What I’m also noticing is that there are plenty of white folks who are responding with anger that is not chosen, this anger is subconscious and reactionary. This disconnect concerns me, and is part of a larger problem and should be looked at carefully. At this point in time, we all need to be asking ourselves how conscious our emotions truly are.
After evaluating how much choice or consciousness precedes my anger, the next question I believe should be asked is…how productive is my anger?
Even when we consciously choose anger, there will be times when it is not productive. There will be times when the conscious choice brings results at some points, but not others. I am not here to share how anger is productive or effective in the conversation regarding Black Lives Matter. But within each conversation we have as human beings, we need to evaluate the productivity of our emotions and communication.
My personal goal is to understand and work toward compassion. To come from a place of curiosity and learn the perspectives of others (yes, including those I don’t personally agree with). But more than anything, I want to acknowledge how emotion plays into our world. From tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions, we share so much information with others through emotions.
We’re in the era of emotional intelligence. Let’s use it to understand where people are coming from, whether or not you agree with their message or their means. I’m not saying that emotional intelligence solves the bigger pervasive issues in the current social atmosphere, but it sure as hell gets us closer than where we are now.
I encourage you to start small. Bring awareness to anger, start there. The good, bad, productive, harmful, and everything in between.
Some questions before you adventure off
- Do you find anger to be a reactionary response or a choice?
- Can you find the connection between anger and disrespect?
- How can you determine if/when anger is a productive means to conversation?
**Some of my readers may not agree with everything I talked about today. That’s okay. I’d love to hear from you if you didn’t, to have a conversation based around understanding and respect. Leave a comment below if you’d like!**