On the list of negative emotions that I’ve tried to cope with for most of my life, anger has always been suspect number one. I was angry all the time growing up. That anger was most likely a coping mechanism; I had no idea how to deal with feelings like sadness or rejection, so everything I felt was converted into a seething rage that controlled most of my actions. As you can probably guess, this made life pretty difficult for myself and the people around me.
The past three years for me have largely been about minimizing anger’s control over my life. And through things like mindfulness and meditation, I’ve done a great job of it. Anger has become less and less prevalent in my daily life, and when it does appear, I’m able to let it go quickly.
That is, until now.
This weekend brought with it the end of a relationship that meant a lot to me, and for the first time in what seems like ages, I’m filled with a mixture of pain and anger that rivals even my worse days growing up. The logical part of my brain tells me that this anger is uncalled for. Relationships end, people move on, that’s just part of life. But despite knowing this on an intellectual level, I just can’t stop seeing red.
In the past, I would have looked at my current emotional state as something to be avoided. I know intimately the negative effects that unchecked anger can have, and the last thing I want to do is repeat old patterns. Yet I’ve also learned that trying to resist emotions only makes them stronger. So I’m going to take a different approach this time. I’m going to use the pain and the rage I’m feeling as fuel.
In some ways, this might be exactly what I need at this point in my life. Despite the positive changes I’ve made recently, I still struggle to find the motivation to go all out when it comes to my goals, and one of the side-effects of intense anger is the surge of energy that comes with it. In the past, I would have used that energy to try and break something. I would have channeled it in a destructive way.
While I still feel like breaking things, I know it’s within my power to control how I use that energy. I can use it constructively. I can use it to push myself harder than ever before. I can use it to create an even better life for myself.
Of course, anger isn’t the most healthy or sustainable motivator. It’s definitely not something I want to rely on in the long-term. But it’s what I’m feeling at the moment, and I can either resist it or embrace it.