It’s Okay to Embrace Anger: But Then Untangle It

The new emotional normal — embrace your feelings — is progress. It’s monumental in the world of personal growth. But the model of acceptance alone doesn’t explain the next step in managing your feelings.

Your emotions are all acceptable. Irritability, anger, shame, guilt: You name it, it’s okay. But just recognizing anger doesn’t make it disappear. It might go in a flash. Most likely though, you can run with it awhile and it will pass out, then ignite later.

Or you might feed it by mistake, fanning the flames. We know venting, once thought a good idea, isn’t necessarily useful. It helps to relieve stress and find solutions. But shouting, thumping the wall (or worse, a person), or writing obscenities in a blog post solves nothing.

Venting worsens your mental state and digs you a hole. Remember, people in your line of fire are upset by your displays of rage, not your right to have anger as an emotion. Acting out your fury can damage them.

Also, your anger will come back to bite you because climbing inside it hasn’t stopped the cause of it. You are triggered. You strike the match and build a flame again and again. Until, that is, you delve into what makes you flammable.

Anger doesn’t heal you; you need to heal it

Years ago, it wasn’t deemed okay to display, or accept ‘negative’ emotions. Now we understand all emotions are part of us and our developing selves. We can have them. And the message is if we experience them, they will heal us.

But hang on a moment: heal us?

Experiencing emotions like anger, rather than repressing them, stops pain building. That’s constructive. But experience without positive action changes nothing for the better.

Without exploring feelings and growing via gaining greater understanding, we’re static. We aren’t developing. We aren’t healing. Maybe inching along like snails because life drags us forward whether or not we like it. But only accepting, yet not untangling our anger, isn’t always as helpful as we’ve been led to believe.

Here’s how to accept anger, and what to do next

The first step, when anger flares, is to recognize it. Here’s the part where you accept it. Claim it as yours rather than push it away. Tell yourself, “I’m angry about…”

You might increase mindfulness too by recognizing where anger flows in your body. Has it gone to your hands, making you form fists? Is it in your jaw, where you clench your teeth? Is it in your back? On your shoulders, where you carry a heavy weight?

Notice where you hold anger and you’ll understand it better. You’ll see how it affects you, not just by increasing discomfort and mental pain. But physically, too.

And the next step is to identify the trigger behind your anger. Often, we’re unaware of what causes our anxiety. We imagine the unskilled driver in front of us on the road is to blame for the way we feel. Or our partner makes us angry because they’re thoughtless. But perhaps our anxiety stems from a sense of helplessness?

Once you’ve uncovered why you’re upset, you have material to work on. You can improve and reduce the likelihood of anger rising so often. Yes, accept anger is there. But also accept living as an angry person is uncomfortable. There are better ways to exist.

Then use a calming tool such as deep breathing. Or count backwards because you’ll switch on the logical part of your brain and reasoning will be easier. When you’re angry, you’re in fight or flight, and you can’t think straight. So, you need to find a way to relax and tap into your higher intelligence instead of your base nature, which is concerned with managing emergencies.

The advent of accepting anger as therapy has led to the misconception we should let it hang around. If you can bathe it in love and compassion, that’s marvelous medicine. But often, when we’re angry, we aren’t in touch with our loving nature. We have to switch to it, and this means owning our anger and then easing away from building it.

When you stop building anger, it fades. It is, after all, energy. Energy changes. It transforms, and in stillness peace takes over and that peace can alter your anger, turning it into a manageable energy.

It’s not just okay to embrace anger, it’s a good idea. When you accept your emotions, you stop them welling up inside you or hiding as open wounds. But once you’ve claimed anger as your own, and noted how it affects you, examine it. Roll it over and peek inside that rabbit hole. Ask it what it’s doing here with you and get to the bottom of what triggers it. Then work to bring peace to those hurt parts of you that are exposed.

Independent content creator, ghostwriter, author mental health advocate, and poet.

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