Self Growth Through Anger

Anger can be a valuable tool if you know how to use it

by Catherine Pratt

Self growth through anger can actually be some of the greatest lessons you'll ever learn.
This particular emotion is a great indicator that something is seriously wrong and that you need to do something about it.

If you take the time to actually examine your anger instead of just "feeling" angry you'll gain incredible insights into yourself. The problem is usually you’re too busy being mad at people or external events to learn the valuable information your emotion is trying to tell you. You're blaming others for your feelings when really you should be looking inside.

Here are two ways to enable self growth through anger in a positive way:

1. Why Are You Angry?

Use your anger

Ask yourself, “Why are you really feeling angry?”

Understanding why you feel so angry can provide you with some surprising answers. It's these answers which can enable you to suddenly grow spiritually and mentally because you'll suddenly understand why you've been reacting a certain way.

So, to start with, ask yourself, "Why am I so angry?" If your response is something like “because Joe didn’t pick up the dry cleaning like I asked him to” then you’re not looking deep enough. Blaming others is the superficial response.

The fascinating thing about anger is that what you think makes you angry (people, events, situations) really isn't what causes you to get upset. They are simply the trigger for your emotion. They set off something inside of you by hitting on one your "buttons" or something that causes intense feelings for you. For example they may bring out past feelings of guilt or make you feel like you're being rejected or that you're not good enough. Or you may be feeling fear.

You can learn a lot about yourself by analyzing what feelings are stirring within. Once you figure it out and deal with it then you'll find that the trigger has no power over you anymore. A situation that would make you absolutely furious before will simply have no effect.

So, when you realize that you're feeling anger, ask yourself what bothers you the most about the situation? What is it telling you about yourself, your needs, your wants, etc.? You need to work through the emotion of anger as soon as you can. It's your reaction you need to figure out. Dig deep and learn from that. You'll be amazed at what you can discover about yourself.

I can give you a personal example. I went to a meeting once and I was verbally attacked over an application I supported at my work place. Various people went on and on about how terrible this system was and that it never worked. That didn’t bother me that much. I was used to that but one of the comments that was said was, “your job is pointless”. This really upset me and at the time, I was absolutely furious with that comment. My immediate reaction was:

- How dare they say that?
- Didn’t they know how hard I worked?
- Didn’t they know how much overtime I’d been putting in lately?

I was so angry and upset that they would treat me that way. Once I took the time to think about what was really making me so mad, I learned a lot. I realized that the comment was more true than I wanted to admit. In the big scheme of things, my job was pointless. It wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing with my life and this is what frustrated me the most. Here I was pouring part of my heart and soul into a job I didn’t even really want to do. I had convinced myself that I was important there. That I was making a difference. I wasn’t. I was using it as a crutch because I didn’t have the confidence in myself to take the scary road towards what I really wanted to do. As soon as I realized that, a lot of my anger just melted away. I also realized that I needed to start focusing on what I really wanted to do.

I now consider this incident as a great gift. It got me back on track to moving in the direction I want to go with my life. I probably wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t taken the time to figure out why I was really so angry.

2. Change Yourself, Not Others

The other thing to remember when you're feeling angry is that you can't change other people. You can only change yourself and how you react to the situation. By changing your reaction you can end up changing how the other person will respond to you but you can't change them first.

Once you figure out why you’re so angry, you then have a pretty good idea of what you need to change. You'll also have a better idea of what personal issues you need to work on. Feel unappreciated? Figure out why and how do you change your own feelings towards that? Mad at your spouse for burning the toast? Most likely that’s not what’s really bothering you. Usually, it’s a symptom, not the cause. Take control of the situation and change yourself. Your emotion has provided you with the clue, now figure it out.

When Using the 2 Steps, Remember the Following:

A Sign That You've Figured it Out

A sure sign you’ve figured out the true cause of your anger is the moment when you feel the anger suddenly subside. In the above example, if I’d left my soul searching at the point where I was still angry at not being appreciated by my co-workers, I wouldn’t have been able to discover the real issue. I would have still been very frustrated and angry at the external situation. Annoyed with my co-workers when they were only a symptom, not the true cause. As soon as I understood what was really happening, all the anger disappeared. I also knew I needed to make changes and from understanding why I was mad I had a better idea of what I needed to do. My anger truly was a great gift for me.

Until you figure out the real reason, the emotion will remain. It will be like when you have a thorn in your thumb. You may think you have it out but when you feel a prick every once in awhile, you know it’s still there. It’s not out until you deal with it. A sure sign that you haven't dealt with the real reason is that you find that you get irritated very easily with everyone and everything. It will seem like everyone is just out to wreck your day.

It's Worth the Effort

When you’re absolutely furious at something or someone, it can be hard to get yourself to start thinking about why it bothers you so much. The more you do it, the easier it gets though. And you feel a lot better afterwards because you have used it for personal self growth rather than letting it’s destructive side hurt you. You are able to move forward with your life because you have resolved the issue instead of just stuffing it down inside. If you deny your true feelings, episodes of anger are going to occur again and again until you deal with it.

Anger is also a negative emotion which takes a huge amount of energy. You may also find that your immune system is reduced if you’re holding on to a lot of anger. Use your energy for positive things and learn from your anger. Think of it as a gift you’re being given to learn about yourself and how to get the life you really want.

You learn in life that the only person you can
really correct and change is yourself.

Katharine Hepburn

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