Sunday, February 08, 2009
A couple days ago, I posted a quote from Joan Chittister: "Anger is not bad. Anger can be a very positive thing, the thing that moves us beyond the acceptance of evil." That quote seemed to strike a chord with people so I wanted to do a follow up.
Anger has taken a bad rap in our culture because so many people do it (express it) so badly. We whine. We rage. We rant. We tantrum. We explode. We wreak havoc and pursue vengeance. We just flat out behave immaturely and inappropriately when we're angry.
OR we don't do anything for fear of doing all those bad behaviors. Instead we become passive. We turn into doormats. We become apathetic. We take on and express our powerlessness because what has been modeled for us is so unpalatable. It should be, yet we don't know an appropriate alternative expression.
Anger is not behavior. Anger is a feeling--and emotion. Everyone has it. What many of us don't know is that the feeling does not determine the behavior. It may instigate our taking action, but we have choice. We get to decide what we will say or do.
Rather than being controlled by our anger, we can be moved by it.
Remember the line in Network (a movie from 1976)? "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more!" spoken by the character, Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch). Take a look at this clip:
Some things aren't so different 33 years later. We deserve to be angry. Howard Beale doesn't tell people what to say or do with their anger. Just first, get angry and say so. Feel it. Acknowledge it. Allow it to be the motivation to figure out what to do next.
Sometimes, getting angry is the first step...a step to regaining our power.
(More to come on this topic. Let me know if you have particular questions or if you want me to cover certain aspects of anger.)