Anger is such a great emotion. Don’t you love it when you are angry about something and there is no question about it? The clarity, the power, the grunt. It’s like nothing else. I love a good old rant. Maybe it’s a Capricorn thing to complain, (a lot), but really getting it all off your chest is invigorating. Like a cold shower on a hot summer day. Hoo ha. Who doesn’t love a good whinge about the weather or the state of our current affairs or the younger generation or the older generation or bad food or bad movies or bad books? Life is wonderful and beautiful and inspiring in so many ways. It can also be tricky, slow and painful. How can you not be angry at traffic lights, mismatched socks, A/C that doesn’t work? Anger about a situation is such a delight to feel. I highly recommend it. Yeah, you can work on being more patient and accepting and trusting but you can also just be friggin’ frustrated that something doesn’t work or is late or too hard.
Anger at people can be much harder, especially if they are close, especially if you are one of those sweet souls who work hard at trying to keep everyone happy, not wanting to disappoint anyone, and pleasing everyone as much as you can. And while it’s even fun and comfortable and socially acceptable to be angry about all the external stuff (politics, sport, the price of housing); when it gets to the point where you are angry with someone who you love, it’s so often the case that we shut it down, swallow it up and cover our rage with a nice, sweet smile. No worries, man; everything’s cool, I got no problem with you. Yeah, right.
It’s harder to admit we’re angry with the people around us. Maybe part of why it’s hard is because we don’t want to admit we might be “angry people”. Being angry with someone challenges our ideas we have about ourselves. Because isn’t it so much nicer to think of ourselves as being peaceful, chilled and laid back; than ornery, grumpy and bitchy? It’s also awful when people are angry with us – no one likes being in trouble. It seems to take some practice being comfortable with anger. A motivating factor for acknowledging and (hopefully maturely) conveying the anger is that the sooner you can express the anger, the easier it is. If left too long, it really festers and often comes out much louder and fiercer than it needed to. Having an argument with someone is also such a great way to clear the air and let the tension dissipate. It’s like giving your relationship a good old-fashioned sage-ing. And even though you might try everything you can to avoid it, it’s actually in saying what you’re angry about and expressing it, that allows the stuff to move and shake and then you’re left with this other person that you realise you probably not only really love but also really, really like.
While I am pro-anger, anger at yourself is a waste of time. I’ve spent a good few years (decades maybe) being angry at myself. And all that effort, really doesn’t amount to much. Not a lot can be created from self anger. It was pretty confronting to realise how angry I was at myself; the words I use in my head to describe myself, how I bully myself, berate myself, punish myself; and basically treat myself like shit. I still do every now and again, and it’s still not easy. The worst is when you realise all the ways you are angry at yourself, and then you start being angry at yourself for being angry at yourself. Bloody hell. But if you want to grow and change and adapt and learn and blossom; it’s pretty hard to do all of that under an angry, bully energy. And so we have to (have to) learn to have more compassion, be kinder and drop the self-anger. Over and over again: as many times as it comes up; it also has to come down.
Anger, when channelled effectively, is such a huge driver in life. If you’re unsure about what you’re about, what you want to do, what you care about; think about all those things that make you angry. Not small stuff like parking tickets or speeding fines, but what really makes you ranty, that once you get going on your high horse, you can not stop fuming about it. That thing that when you start talking about it, other people raise their eyebrows because you’re speaking with such passion and enthusiasm and spirit; and you seem ever so slightly unhinged. Believe me, that is your thing.
I was unreasonably angry about yoga. I was furious about it. I would go to classes here in New York and be livid afterwards. I really felt like there was all this potential for yoga to help you feel connected to yourself, more clear in who you are, more spiritually connected, more present in your body, even more connected to the people around you. But a lot of the time I would leave feeling insecure or not good enough or not flexible enough or that I didn’t have the right tights on or whatever. I was so angry when spiritual words or concepts were used and applied in a superior or jargonistic way, rather than a grounded, accepting and kind way. My anger for that felt stronger than I would have liked to admit. My anger about it was really kind of surprising. I started to notice that I cared about this more than other people did; in a way that was uncomfortable and agitating. I began to realise that this really mattered deeply to me.
Listen to your anger. Don’t dismiss it. It’s there for a reason, an important one. It’s trying to tell you something about yourself. About what you care about. About why you’re here and why you want to create and act and do and speak and express. About what is going to drive you. Because it really does drive you. When things are tough or feel too hard or too heavy, too scary or too fraught; your anger will mean you keep going, keep ploughing. Because, despite how hard it may be, you’re just too goddamn angry to stop. When you dismiss it or deny your anger or pretend you don’t really care or that whatever it is doesn’t really matter anyway, then you are dismissing and denying yourself and saying to yourself (and others too) that you don’t matter. And, frankly, that’s just bullshit.