Updated: Apr 22
Anger definitely feels good in the moment.
It offloads the uncomfortable sensations that come with unexpected loss of any kind, like what many of us experience when big changes are announced in the news. And in response, we see countless expressions of anger and grief from friends, family and across social media. I even read one post even encouraging people to “Hold onto your anger! We’ll need it to fight back!”. Today I'm going to suggest a different approach that could be far more effective.
The foundation of anger
So let’s get straight to it and talk about where anger comes from. If you take some time to think about it, anger at its root, is really is about LOSS of some kind. And as humans, we see numerous examples of loss everyday in our lives:
👉🏼 a boundary crossing (loss of privacy, space or respect)
👉🏼 an unexpected or undesired outcome or result (loss of an ideal, expectation or hope)
👉🏼 a loss of connection (when we pull away or push others away in our relationships) or.…
👉🏼 ..a loss of freedom (a restriction) of some kind. Even one like a major policy or rule change that affects our lives or the lives of people we care about. Those can sometimes feel the worst.
And as physiological humans, we need to freely experience those losses, grieve them and process them, instead of bottling them up, redirecting them or offloading them through anger. That is, if we want to move forward consistently and effectively and support sustainable change. If we don’t, not only does unexpressed grief quickly becomes hostility and resentment. But the action that stems from our short bursts of anger either fizzles out quickly... or has less impact long-term.
The tricky part is that losses of any kind in the present moment can also bring up unresolved grief from our past - the ‘unfinished business’ of a previous loss that was perhaps about rejection, mocking or neglect. The sense of separation that followed that original experience and the resultant feeling of isolation and helplessness ...can follow us into adulthood. This is why it's essential to get to the root of your behavior.
So, is anger EVER effective?
Sure, it can be in the moment — when physical or emotional defense is needed right then or when a loss is occurring in real time. Anger can serve as a short-burst catalyst and quick call-to-action when someone, or something, is unable to defend themselves in the moment from physical or mental threat. So it has its use.
But hanging onto to anger as a fuel for sustainable, lasting change, not only is polarizing and ineffective long-term, but it’s terrible for our physical and mental health. Prolonged anger weakens areas of our brain and can activate huge dumps of cortisol. Which…. impacts our physical health and makes us even less effective in our change-action. See how that works?
So yes, use anger in the moment, if someone or something needs supported defense.
AND.. when needed, grieve your losses, let sadness run its emotional course through your body and then.... buckle down and use what I consider to be two of the most effective tools on the planet for enacting sustainable change:
Focus and energetic Determination.
Why it works
1. FOCUS redirects your attention to what it is you want to see more of.
2. And energetic DETERMINATION keeps you working consistently and purposely towards the vision you want to see happen.
Neither one uses prolonged anger as fuel.
And when directed towards a change you wish to see last, both focus and determination unify people and keep you far healthier. And unified, healthy people ...produce far more effective results.
We NEED you out there!
But if you really want to make IMPACT, and make a difference that lasts, we need you emotionally centered, thinking more flexibly and viewing the world through a lens that's not clouded by your past.
And doing that requires differentiating and moderating your emotional state - a process that involves allowing yourself to experience appropriate grief. It may be initially uncomfortable, but you'll then be able to move forward with focus and determination and take more sustainable action towards your goals.
Join us on Facebook, or if you’d like to learn how to sustainably moderate and differentiate your emotional response and think more flexibly, start by learning the basics of how your brain and body work: Whole-Brain Relationships — what you need to know to feel more calm, confident and connected at work AND in love.
The Human Infusion Project is philanthropic, personal development platform that draws from the combined fields of modern brain science, applied psychology and spiritual philosophy. Our mission aims to augment and supplement the work of professional practitioners in simplified, practical and affordable ways. 100% of all course profit funds the Wellness Assistance Grant.