This Thanksgiving I'm Giving Thanks for Anger! Clarity #18

Seriously? What does anger and thankfulness have to do with each other?  I love all the gratitude and thankfulness pouring forth from the social media channels and ezine articles. I want to join in and say how grateful I am for a very powerful emotion: ANGER.  Weird, eh?

This week's Clarity challenge is focused on how to use anger appropriately and the danger of misdirected anger.  Yes, it's cheesy, but I'll say it anyway: anger is only one letter away from DANGER! Anger is an emotion alerting us to the fact thatsomething is not right. An injustice has occurred. The trick is slowing down the emotional flow to discern the injustice and what it is telling us needs to be righted. Here are some examples:

Relational Injustice

Anger in relationships can be a form of love when it is slow, focused and in control. Think about it: we defend that which we love the most. It is good that a dad is angry when his chid lies and cheats. Why? Because he is motivated to act towards defending his child's character and well-being for the future. It is an injustice that this child is not making good choices and if not dealt with, he or she will be lost and land in jail one day. Once again, how that anger is communicated is key. Remember stay in control and for the other person's well-being.

Social Injustice

Sometimes anger will surprise you and bubble up as you learn something for the first time. This new anger can launch you to defend and fight against an injustice you previously knew nothing about.  For example, perhaps you learn that more than 90% of women involved in prostitution are not involved by choice and would leave if they could. Or that human trafficking happens just around the corner from where you live.  You get angry and it moves you to action, perhaps developing an educational prevention program targeted toward at-risk young men who typically become pimps. You do something to right the wrong, and you are passionate about it driven by your anger. It might just lead you to your purpose and passion in life if handled correctly.

Perceived Injustice

Sometimes we don't have all the information we need, and we get angry about an assumed injustice. For instance, someone is going 55 MPH in the middle lane on the freeway, and the speed limit is 60.  You can't get around them due to construction. You are furious inside because it is not right that they go 5 miles below the speed limit. This is not RIGHT and the injustice is that you will be late. When you finally are able to get around the slow vehicle, you see an 80-year-old grandpa driving his elderly wife to the hospital but his reflexes are slower so he is cautious. DAH – the injustice was perceived.

Selfish Injustice

Anger also arises when we don't get our personal needs met.  Someone does not give you the credit you clearly deserve. You are not picked for the holiday party committee. Your husband buys himself a coffee but doesn't bring you one. Your kids claim their nanny loves them more than you. Your wife is 10 minutes late again and makes you look bad in front of your leadership team. Your anger is really about your own unmet personal need that you see as an injustice.  This is the one you can manage with more Self-Awareness and working on your personal EQ.

Next time, you feel that spike of emotion called frustration, irritation or anger, make it worth your raised blood pressure and trace it back to where you believe the injustice is and ask yourself: is it real? Perceived? Or simply all about you? Then reframe to either help meet the need of others or get your personal unmet need met in a healthy manner.

Anger will show you what you are most passionate about and what you care about most. For that you can be grateful for anger. You just have to make sure you manage it well.  Manage your anger during the holidays and learn a ton about yourself in the journey!

Please share your thoughts on anger. What has made you angry this week? Can you follow your emotion back to the injustice? Was it real, perceived, or selfish? What positive actions can it move you toward?

Your Coach For Clarity,