How to Let Yourself Be Angry
Dreamers feel frustration.
Let yourself be angry. Suppressing anger wastes energy.
I know people who have been frustrated for years. The reason you’re circling the same frustration is you aren’t angry enough.
Leaders who don’t feel frustration are too happy with the present.
Anger isn’t the issue; how you express it is.
7 negative expressions of anger:
- Temper tantrums.
- Blaming others.
- Attacking yourself.
- Speak up.
- Take action.
- Stop it.
- Seek options.
- Change something.
- Make it better.
- Take responsibility.
Energy spent suppressing anger drains energy.
The most important thing:
The most important thing about anger is timely action. Deal with anger before it consumes you. The worst thing you can do with anger is let it simmer.
When you simmer in anger, you treat others with their faults and offenses in mind.
Living with anger is letting offenses drive life. Deal with it. Don’t live with it. Anger told you about unhappiness, when you don’t listen, you remain unhappy.
5 questions to get the most from anger:
- What wrong do I want to right?
- What am I willing to do to make things better?
- What am I missing?
- What do I want for us?
- What can I do today to move toward better?
Bonus: What behaviors will make me proud tomorrow?
Anger is one of the most powerful human emotions. Suppressing or ignoring it is dangerous. Learn to leverage anger’s power by focusing it on positive behaviors.
What’s dangerous about anger?
How can leaders leverage anger’s energy?
I worry about the word ANGRY. To me it means “out of control” as you listed in negative expressions. We continue to try and teach our kids to NOT be angry, etc.
Might there be a better word for the positive actions?
Thanks Dayna. I hear you. It’s an awkward term because it has so many negative expressions. Sadly, because of this, we want to deny it or suppress it. That, as you can tell is unfortunate.
Passion is one aspect of anger but it lacks some of the power. I hate the idea that saying “let yourself be angry” has so much negative baggage.
I can’t think of a better word. Perhaps it’s healthy to use a term that has negative connotations so that we don’t slip into the dark side of this powerful emotion.
I also wonder about teaching children positive ways to deal with anger rather than saying don’t be angry.
I’m thankful for your comment and concern.
I certainly can see where Dayna is coming from on this one, however I believe that we need to call anger by what it is… anger. That being said, it is more important to teach our kids, and all people how to deal with their feelings in a positive manner.
Yes, I agree with the notion of using the word anger/angry even with all the implications because doing more of the same evasion only disallows the space we really need to examine this powerful feeling for what it is. In this way, we can avoid confusing it with what we were taught as children or what we want to teach our children because of having been taught to stifle our own anger (which isn’t the same as being taught to avoid destructive action caused by anger; anger can be an emotion ready to bring out peace and positive changes but this isn’t something we’re generally taught to believe is possible from birth).
Connecting the notion of leadership with anger in a constructive way deserves an entire treatise, in my opinion. After having read a few books that at some point or another speak of “allowing yourself to be angry” and considering my own anger I’ve realized that honoring anger is essential! It is the state from which we can construct a healthier pattern based on a burning desire to make a change somehow, and a state that causes trailblazing efforts. Without it, we are cutting out a piece of ourselves for the sake of comfort/sameness, which is never as interesting or as powerful as letting anger help us get to find newness.
Children especially, eventually becoming adults, need room to feel their anger, learn from adults who’ve processed this, and be shown ways to channel it safely. All of us, in our reactivity to anger, whether at home, work, beyond etc. are merely revealing how we’ve been shaped by our families and our societies to think about anger, but not necessarily the truth of what anger represents in the human experience.
Wow, Holly, what a powerful response to not only the use of the word anger, but why and how to respect and deal with the emotion of anger. The only thing I would like to add is that I believe anger is a “natural inclination” we are born with. We all get angry. It’s sort-of like selfishness. So we must be aware of it, ready for it, on guard and prepared to fight against it taking control of our humanity…the greater and better part of us.
We are not animals. But anger can make us so. Alexis de Tocqueville studied America’s prosperity and goodness and wrote about it in his acclaimed book Democracy in America. He also visited America’s prisons which became one of his measures and in his book he said,
“Okay, let’s revert back and be more beastful–and less violent.”
He was saying that “angry humans” can be more violent than beastly animals.
Dan, I agree. We all too often take the “ostrich” approach on too many issues facing organizations, as well as our children. Understanding how and why we are feeling something, whether that’s anger or another emotion, is critical in our ability to effectively deal with and handle those emotions. Both from within ourselves as well as those around us.
I like very much what you have presented. It gives those of us who are impatient optimists the “ok” to be frustrated and to better understand not only what’s responsible for it, but how to positively channel it.
Great post, Dan!
I love “When you simmer in anger, you treat others with their faults and offenses in mind.”-
So true. It reminds me of a wonderful book I read recently called Play to win, by Larry Wilson. The author distinguishes those who live their lives so as not to lose, from those who live their lives to win- the former he argues is governed and motivated by fear and a desire to avoid negative consequences and the latter by a desire to learn and to grow.
Anger is a signal that something is not quite right. That is the energy leaders need to pay attention to and address. Often anger is the cover for a deeper, more vulnerable feeling- sadness. Also a signal that something is not quite right. When we fail to acknowledge and understand anger or sadness, we are at risk of keeping ourselves in self destructive situations.
I have come to believe that the capacity to tolerate a full range of emotions, including anger and sadness, is an essential aspect of leadership. Anger can be dangerous without this capacity as leaders are then engaged in avoiding feelings, (and their underlying causes), or reflexively reacting, (the way we toss a ball in a game of hot potato), in an effort to relocate the anger or pain.
All that to say I agree with you ” Anger isn’t the issues; how you express it is”. Thanks for sharing your thoughtful strategies.
G2g monitor a group of rowdy, 10 year old Patriots fans!
I like your post Dan and hear Dayna’s thoughts so wanted to add mine in addition to your helpful reply.
Anger and all darkness is very real and very human. To deny our dark side is denying our truth. The keys as Dan points out is how we express and that we DO express in a healthy way. It helps us dissolve darkness and let in more light.
I know for me, my 5 year old can easily make me angry when she does not want to listen :). But I can ask myself…
What is this triggering in me?
Why is this not that?
How can I better understand her reasons for not listening right now?
What can I do to meet her needs and mine too?
We all have mental roadmaps and anger tells us when we hit a roadblock. Using anger as a trigger to pause and examine allows us to see ourselves more and help our kids (and employees) do the same. It breaks unhealthy patterns. Teaching not to be angry teaches suppression and sustains unexpressed needs and pain.
To fully feel, look deeper, learn from it and lead from there makes great leaders.
Im having a little damce with anger right now so these words are very good food for thought! Thanks
Wow – what a wonderful blog post today. I felt exactly this way today re how my spouse was dealing with our dying pet. However, I let my anger come out in inappropriate and hurtful ways. This article gives me another vantage point and in a round about way a new set of tools.
good points, anger can provide the energy to move us forward, and sometimes it tells us to find another job.
Anger may fuel the need for change so that the cause of that anger is resolved. If you are happy you are most likely satisfied with the status quo and perphaps won’t seek impromevent. Although there must be caution with anger for it can be as destructive as constructive.
Anger creates purpose for action and often stems from frustration. It is that point where rationality can no longer compensate causing the tipping point. We must ask ourselves how things got to where they are and what caused us to reach that point. Often, it is our passion and desire that drives our actions and we get frustrated when no one else seems to care…. especially as much as we do. As Dan has pointed out, it is important to limit the extent to which anger affects us. I know it is sometimes hard to do but it is important to redirect the energy of anger and keep on keepin on!
Dan, you continue to surprise and enlighten with your choice of topics and the guts it takes to speak the truth. Anger has motivated me to make many positive changes by focusing on the needed change instead of stewing in frustration. I have heard it said we only change when we are uncomfortable.
Anger used in a level headed way can be one of the most constructive manners to make a correction when childish displays of so called authority have to be dealt with. Example, sometime back I had a reoccurring situation that simply would not go way. Finally, I decided enough, one way or another it was going to be dealt with. I called for a meeting with up-line (I’m middle). The top guy was there, the one below him, and myself. Just as expected the one below top management blew up, at that moment, I was angry but decided to keep my cool, I then asked one question; Is this how we do business? Top management decided it wasn’t going to be. We got the change. Blowing up does not solve anything, keeping your cool, staying steady and focused will. Sometimes you just got to get angry enough to saddle up, if you want to advance for the better.
Great advice. Personally I’ve had to learn how to deal with anger without going to extremes. Now I try very had before reacting to think about what I want and how I can make that happen. Sometimes it means letting go of the little things for a higher purpose or finding a way to express my anger in a productive way. You’ve got some great advice here, I think the questions listed are a great help.
How true what someone above said: getting angry isn’t the problem, what you do when you’re angry is. Anger has driven some people to achieve incredible things. This sort of “righteous anger” (if you like) is often great, giving people the push they need to create momentum. Anger can become a real problem when it’s triggered by those things you can do nothing about. This is when it doesn’t build momentum and drive but creates resentment, rancour, bitterness and cynicism. How many of the cynics we are advised to sideline are victims of bitterness over problems nobody let them solve?
Thank you, I appreciate this post. 🙂
Great post and so true, people act when they get angry and providing their actions are constructive, this actually helps drive change and get things done.
Great post, Dan – I think it’s important, when thinking about labeling, to differentiate between anger and rage. Anger begins at a low simmer, and this is the very time to address it. Unchecked and allowed to become a full boil, anger becomes rage – destructive and ineffective.
EXCLUSIVELY STAHZ INC.
“ANGER” IS STRESS! USEING “ANGER” AS A GROWTH TOOL MAY HAVE MULTIPLE REACTIONS. “ANGER” SHOULD BE DELETED FROM HUMAN BEHAVIOR COMPARISON. IT HAS NO POSITIVE FUNCTIONS, THEREFORE IT’S USE VALIDATES NOTHING OR NO HUMAN THATS IN CONTROL. HUMANS GET DISAPPOINTED, BY USEING “DISAPPOINTMENTS” IN LIFE TO MAKE BETTER DECISIONS TODAY, KEEPS THE “ANGER” A NONE FACTOR WHEN GROWTH IS OUR TOPIC. WE LOVE HEALTHY OPTIONS TO PROSPER IN OUR NEW DREAMS. I LOVE THE CONCEPT AND THE THINKING BEHIDE THE ILLUSTRATION.
Thank you for posting about the importance of expressing one’s anger as opposed to suppressing one’s anger. Like all other emotions, anger is not inherently bad or negative, but it does require the wherewithal to know how to deal with it in a way that is healthy and not detrimental to those around you. Anger is a powerful emotion, one which can grant you greater self-awareness and introspection when expressed without malice. The biggest issue most people have with implementing their anger as a tool to enhance their self-comprehension, is an inability to think or respond logically when they become angry. While emotions are what make us human and are for all intensive purposes the opposite of logic, they can be experienced without being overwhelmed. Seeing reason as opposed to seeing red is a skill requiring emotional intelligence, which is a key trait of any great leader.
The first step to getting a handle on one’s anger is, as you state in this post, simply to feel it. Our culture teaches us that anger is disgraceful, which results in many people pushing it down or channeling it in a way that harms us or others. Feeling that anger and knowing it won’t be the end of the world can eventually help us to think critically about why we are angry. The 5 questions you wrote are, in my opinion, an excellent next step to using anger as a tool for ‘good’ instead of ‘evil.’ Furthermore, when employees see their leader or manager get angry without lashing out, that is a signal to them that they are in a work environment which encourages healthy expression of emotions. Nothing fosters respect like a boss who doesn’t fall to pieces when they are frustrated or upset about something. Additionally, employees look to managers for leadership and role modelling, and if they witness their leader show emotional intelligence and understanding, they are bound to reciprocate that behavior the next time they are upset or frustrated.