I was challenged recently to see anger as a positive thing, a flow of energy, a necessary force. 

This was … different.

I have no or very few positive role models for or experiences with anger. The only options offered were exploding or being passive-aggressive.

Anger is something bad, something to be avoided whenever possible, suppressed.

There are contexts in which I can see it as a necessary, positive flow of energy. Fuel to keep us moving in a direction we need to go, especially when movement is hard.

On the other hand, there needs to be moderation of some kind. Carrying anger all the time is exhausting and unhealthy.

A long time ago, I did some therapeutic work through EMDR and let go of some family-of-origin anger that I hadn’t even realized I’d been carrying. 

I felt lighter.

I had no idea that I wasn’t already as light as I needed to be, because I had carried it longer than I could remember.

Anger that fuels you to make beneficial changes to yourself/your organization? Great!

Anger that causes you to be spiteful or generally shitty to people? Not great.

Anger that weighs you down? Also not great.

Taking a turn… that same therapist with whom I did EMDR suggested that anger is protection from sadness.

So far, I haven’t found an example where that’s not true.

Combining that thought with the challenge to see it as positive, anger could protect us from sadness so that we have energy to act where action is needed. Sadness is not good fuel for action. Anger has a lot of energy! What it offers in energy it lacks in thoughtfulness.

Given all of that, for now I’m going to land on: tethered anger can be a force for good. Chronic anger, even if it’s completely justified, isn’t good.

What do you think?

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