Anger has a purpose. Hell, even rage has a purpose. But, we — particularly we women —are often discouraged from expressing anger.
Why? Because anger scares people. Expressed anger tends to make us automatically feel defensive, even if we know logically that we are not necessarily the cause of that anger.
I have chosen Tūtū Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, Wind, Lightening and Volcanoes as well as being their mythology’s Creatrix, because She — along with many other Goddesses who get a bum rap because They are not sweet, lovely sops to the ideal of the demure woman, such as my Matron the Mór-ríoghain — is willing and able to stand up and command attention.
Our society teaches us to hide our anger, suppress our rage. Particularly we women are expected to do this automatically, because we are supposed to be the compassionate ones, the nurturing ones. Yet, sometimes, the best communication of our nurturing behavior is to express the anger we feel.
I am NOT IN ANY WAY advocating abuse.
In order to confront and teach a child who is making unhealthy choices (whether they are minors or our adult children), we often have to show them what is known as “tough love” (I am using this in the British understanding of the term, because the American version is “authoritarian parenting” and has been shown to make issues worse). This is still being nurturing, but it requires the child to take accountability for their choices and behavior.
But that’s not the only way anger and/or rage can be expressed in a healthy manner.
Anger can be motivating. If you don’t like what your life looks like right now, you can either choose to sit and moan about how hard you have it OR you can take the anger and choose to change your life. Changing your life is a scary proposition. It’s a risk, and our culture tends to discourage emotional risk-taking. We have to make that step onto a different road, and those around us may find the changes requiring them to reassess their relationship with us.
When I stood up to my ex-husband, and clearly stated I would no longer listen to his abuse, that was a risk. When I confronted my father for continuing a discussion that was inappropriate, that was a risk. People get comfortable with how you respond to their behavior and choices. When you choose to change your habits and responses, others can feel defensive or can even try to force you back into that old habit because they are uncomfortable.
Healthy expressions of anger can actually allow for you to feel more optimistic, more happy. Why? Because anger, when communicated correctly, offers the opportunity to make a difference. Anger, communicated in a healthy way, can be used to confront injustice and make huge changes in the world.
Let’s take a couple of examples. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. were both strong advocates for serious injustices in their respective communities. Both advised non-violent, civil resistance in order to effect social change. Both impacted our global culture far greater than their original intent. Yet both of these men were angry about the injustices perpetrated on their communities. Without that anger, they would not have stepped forward to be the voice in the wilderness for their ideals.
Anger can give you the impetus to find solutions, instead of sitting around feeling helpless and hopeless.
Constructive anger is communicated to the person (or group) who is the root cause of the issue. It is not aimed at or vented upon those who are not part of the problem. It is proportional to the actual injustice. Constructive anger wants solutions, not just communication.
Anger is a chaotic emotion. And yes, it can be scary. But it is also there for a reason.