What is anger? A source of damage and destruction? Or, possibly, a source of connection and creativity?
Anger is much like fire and water – it can be a source of life and destruction at the same time. Fire can keep us alive, warm, and cozy. Or, fire can blaze out of control and harm us. Water is the essence of life and we cannot survive without it, and yet, water can harm us when it turns into a ominous destructive storm. We cannot imagine our lives without water or fire. We need and fear them at the same time….
The same is true when it comes to anger. Despite its destructive nature, anger is also a source of life, connection, and creativity. As with fire and water, anger can take us to beautiful emotional places or to harmful ones. The beautiful side of the anger is a reality as much as its dark side.
Unfortunately, so many of us have experienced anger as a destructive force that it’s hard to imagine there is beauty in anger. But, yes indeed, anger can be a source of connection, creativity, performance, growth, and accomplishments.
The “Dark” Side of Anger
Anger can feel like an evil force that’s uncomfortable to be with or experience. Whether it’s our own anger or someone else’s, it’s hard to be in its presence.
Imagine the moments when you’ve been in the presence of another’s anger. Anger can fill up an entire space. Anger can explode out of nowhere. Anger can come slowly like a dark cloud taking over. Sometimes, anger emerges through silence. In such moments, maybe you you felt emotionally hurt and disconnected. Or, maybe you even felt afraid and not safe anymore…
And then, reflect on those moments when you’ve been flooded with your own anger. Do you recall the way it took you by surprise and left you in a difficult emotional space? You didn’t know what to do with those emotions. Maybe you lashed out and said things you still regret. Perhaps you pretended you weren’t hurt and quickly covered up your anger as if nothing happened. Or, perhaps you became silent and alone in your anger, hoping it would just go away.
None of these reactions to anger felt right… You were left feeling disconnected, unheard, unseen, and invalidated. However, when anger is acknowledged, it allows for important emotional repair.
Anger expressed in an unhealthy way is harmful, since it doesn’t allow for genuine connection and it denies the chance for healing. It hurts you and consumes you, whether your are aware of it or not.
The “Beautiful” Side of Anger
And then, there is the experience of being present with anger in a way that actually connects you to yourself and others. Even if anger is a challenging feeling, it can feel clean, safe, and empowering. It is possible to express anger in ways that keeps people from feeling attacked, shamed, or abandoned.
Being vulnerable in the presence of anger is a key part of connecting to the beautiful side of anger. Vulnerability allows you to trust that anger is ok – just like joy, love, or happiness anger is ok. You know that anger is there to tell you something important. It is telling you that you or someone is hurt, treated unfairly, or some boundaries have been violated.
When you are vulnerable in your own anger, you are grounded in your own truth. You have the courage to feel it, see it, embrace it and value its messages. You are not afraid of it and you are not challenged by it. You feel safe, you know is not taking you to any bad places. In fact, it feels right. You trust its power to help you communicate how you feel, assert your rights, protect your boundaries, heal, and let go.
When you feel connected, vulnerable, and safe in the presence of anger, it becomes a life energy to be used in the service of preserving love, connecting at a deeper level, connecting to your real talents and creativity, and accomplishing your goals.
Imagine this moment. You finally have an opportunity you’ve waited a long time for. Maybe an audition, a presentation, or meeting an influential person. Just at the moment you introduce yourself to the new casting agent, your audience, or to the influencer, someone makes a demeaning comment about you. All of a sudden you feel the anger kicking in, like a hot wave spreading over you. You are confused and you don’t know how to react. Part of you wants to stand up for yourself, lash out, attack. Another part wants to run away. You have many racing thoughts about what just happened.
In the storm of all your feelings somehow you realize that you don’t know the best way to proceed. You choose not to act – yet. You know you have to wait for an opportune moment to stand up for yourself, but it does not have to be right now. You find some comfort in this thought and you let that anger be there, not acting on. And it is this comforting thought that connects you to your anger in a different way. Your relationship with your anger shifts in that moment: from harmful to creative, from destructive to constructive…
Now, that anger feels more like a good energy rather than a dark and consuming energy. You know that engaging with that good energy is the ticket to your emotional freedom from the anger that feels so dark. Instead of attacking, lashing out, or running away you find yourself motivated to really show who you really are. You connect now to that motivating energy and you feel inspired by it. You can access your talents and abilities. Your audience is touched by you.
When you redirect your anger from a flash of sudden and uncontrolled rage into fuel that inspires you to do your best, you know you’re going to be able to have a good impact on those around you. They can see you. They like you. You managed to show who you really are. You proved you are not the demeaning comment. Now, you get to choose if you still want to pursue this opportunity.
These is just one example. Real life is full with such opportunities to use anger as a transformative energy. This is what happens when you feel connected and safe in the presence of anger, it becomes a life energy to be used in the service of preserving love, connecting at a deeper level, accessing to your talents and creativity, and grow.
Of course, it’s important to remember that it takes two to tango… You can only control what you do. Find those people you can be vulnerable with, people who can dance with you through the anger so you discover the beauty and the richness of that emotion together.
Becoming whole with your own anger
Anger comes and goes, like any other feeling. No matter what you do, anger is a part to life. You can become whole with your own anger and reach a place where the dark side and the beautiful side coexist.
You can engage with your beautiful side of anger while staying in touch with its dark side, recognizing and tolerating it without acting on it. To find this kind of wholeness, you need to be seen, acknowledged, and allowed to be vulnerable and authentic with your feelings. When you can create this emotional space, you can access the gifts that can come through your anger.
Give yourself a moment of self-reflection about your own anger
Do you feel in touch with both sides of your anger? Can you tolerate the destructive impulses of your anger? Can you use your anger as a source of connection, creativity, change, growth or accomplishments?
If you feel your anger is taking you to harmful places, you need a safe space to explore its roots. You need to feel seen, acknowledged, and allowed to be vulnerable and authentic with your anger. You need to feel safe in the presence of anger. You can learn how to be in touch with it and tolerate its dark side, so you can connect and act through its beautiful side. This is how you can heal.
This is your invitation to become whole with your own anger. Let it be a source of life rather than your armor or your weapon.
Contact me to set up a free 15-20 minute consultation to see if psychotherapy can help you further your career and your personal life.
I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives and performers with emotional trauma, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creative blocks / creative issues, relationships, and addictions – to be and live their own best version. You can read more about Therapy for Creatives and Performers here.