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You have the right to be angry

Lewis Black's character in Inside OutI got into a discussion on Twitter about the value of social media. It included the issue of anger.

We feel uncomfortable about anger. It makes us feel out of control. It causes us to say and do things we regret. It can also be addictive. We can find ourselves trapped in a cycle of outrage.

But we cannot deny our anger, and repressing it can make things worse. You have every right to be angry. Here are the reasons why.

It is an acceptable response to suffering

When my mom had her stroke, I got a call from someone who worked with her at her last job. I found myself screaming and swearing at him. I blamed her job for stressing her out so much that it caused the stroke. But as soon as I slammed down the phone, I felt ashamed. I later apologized, but he assured me that he understood. He wasn’t mad at me because he knew how much I was suffering.

Each of us processes pain in our own way. Anger is one method of coping. Denying it blocks the path of our healing.

Anger is difficult for those of us who support someone who’s suffering. Just the rage makes us uncomfortable, and they may say things that upset us. The worst thing we can do is react or tell them to “just get over it.” We have the privilege of self-control; they don’t. Be present and let them have their anger. By staying with them, you will help them recover.

It is a necessary response to injustice

When we look at the terrible moments of history, we find ourselves asking, “Why didn’t anyone do something to stop this? Why didn’t anyone speak out? How could people just sit back and let this happen?”

And if you look at people’s reactions to the political situation today, you can understand why. Now, just as then, people were afraid to speak up. They didn’t think the problem was too bad, or it would just resolve itself, or it just didn’t affect them.

If the news makes you angry, there’s a good reason for it. And if that anger comes from solid reasons, you need to take action. Make your voice heard, get involved in causes you believe in, and for heaven’s sake, vote! Don’t be among those history accuses of doing nothing when injustice, cruelty, and corruption threatened freedom and civilization.

It is a catalyst for personal change

Anger doesn’t just stir political change. It can initiate change in our personal lives.

Anger motivated me after I was forced out of one job. It drove me to be successful in my current one. I’ve seen people who have been disgusted with their weight, addictions, and financial problems, and they used that anger to power them through the hard work needed to change. It may take the anger of a loved one that forces you out of complacency and do something to improve your life. When we learn how to channel and use that anger, it can drive us towards success.

It is something to understand and not fear

Anger is a difficult emotion to feel and to see in others. When it goes out of control, it can cause considerable harm. But anger is a natural response to suffering, and one we should allow ourselves to experience when necessary. It can drive us to call for changes in ourselves, our relationships, and our society.

Anger is our natural reaction to pain, powerlessness, and frustration. We have every right to be angry. And when we’ve given it time to dissipate, we can move ahead to heal ourselves, regain our power, and make the changes we seek in ourselves and our world.


Also published on Medium.