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What Is Anger Trying To Tell You About Your Life?


Anger. It’s got a pretty bad reputation. And we’re often told what to do with it: be careful with it. Suppress it. Vent it. Override it. It’s like anger’s some kind of volatile, toxic force to be harnessed or defused.

But maybe there’s another way of looking at it altogether.

Maybe you can actually learn from anger. Listen to it. See what it has to tell you. Get curious about it.

The sticker in the photo (above), in a cleverly vandalised train carriage I travelled in recently, has another suggestion for how to respond to anger:

“If anger is present
rove to another age”

So let’s take another look at anger for a moment.

15 thoughts on “What Is Anger Trying To Tell You About Your Life?

  • September 24, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    The most recent time that I can recall being really angry was after reading an article in the local newspaper about suicide. The head of this particular suicide prevention group lost her sister to suicide. She stated that losing someone to suicide wasn’t like losing them to an illness, that suicide is sudden and unpredictible like murder, but with suicide it’s a choice.

    What made me angry about this statement is that I felt it minimizes the severity of mental illness. It trivializes the agony that people with depression live with. It undermines the fight – for – your – life existence that we deal with so often when we are caught in a deep cycle. It expresses a lack of understanding for the people who so often don’t want to die from their disease but can’t find the strength to survive it. Suicide is not always the choice that non-suffers think it is.

    Reply
    • September 30, 2011 at 12:18 am

      Such rich ideas from everyone – looks like re-framing anger is an important thing.

      Sheila, that anger about how suicide can be misunderstood strikes me as being so meaningful. The way you highlight how suicide isn’t simply “a choice” like any other, and how mental illness and distress can sometimes close off choices for people in that situation, reminds us all how important it is to really reach out to people in this level of pain. Recently, in Australia, it was R U OK? Day – a time to ask people how they’re really doing, as sometimes a conversation and sharing the load of the pain can be literally lifesaving…

      @Geert, I like how you’ve clarified that there’s nothing “wrong” with anger – that it’s simply “life energy”. Nicely put.

      @rookie – bring on that day!

      And glad you enjoyed the post, Marcelina and Greta and Sharon – great idea with journalling the meaning behind any anger that arises, Marcelina… And sounds like that was some valuable “time travel” there, Sharon…

      And Paul it sounds like you’re in the thick of it right now, fending off anger as it arises from all around… a tough place to be in. And you’ve really worked hard with it.
      If it’s other people’s actions that seem to be at the centre of the storm, perhaps it’s worth looking at the thoughts that go along with that… sort of trying to find a way to distance yourself from the responsibility or pressure of fixing everything for everyone (if that’s how it feels) – or from having to stop everyone “cocking up” .
      One book I found really useful, both personally and professionally, in looking more closely at thoughts and ways of being that aren’t helpful, is “Change Your Thinking: Positive and Practical Ways to Overcome Stress, Negative Emotions and Self-defeating Behaviour Using CBT” by Dr Sarah Edelman. She has a chapter on managing anger

      Reply
  • September 25, 2011 at 5:39 am

    hi Gabrielle,
    very valuable piece: consciously looking at anger as a way to work on personal transformation is powerful thing to do!
    And I’d like to highlight an add-on : in itself, there is nothing wrong with anger – it consists of pure life energy; this energy gets released upon a trigger and at times when we choose not to use is as a tool to look where it came from, we can use it on the spot to transform it into passion !
    When aware of the energy release, we can consciously choose to divert that energy into an act that serves us in our life purpose.
    As a society we tend to make anger wrong. And look at what Picasso, reputedly a very angry man, used this energy for…

    Reply
  • September 28, 2011 at 9:46 am

    lotsa “maybes” here…
    every person, every situation, every anger, every trigger iz different…
    soothing articles like this one “sometimes” are just frustrating because the anger felt by the reader iz not explained…

    it will be a great day when communication is perfected, eh???
    HA!!!

    ya’ll have fun…

    rookie

    Reply
  • September 28, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Everyone should write these questions down in a journal and work on the answers after having an anger attack. Understanding the meaning behind your anger is just one way to start managing it. Great post!

    Reply
  • September 29, 2011 at 3:28 am

    Amen to that!

    Reply
  • September 29, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Reading the article, “What is anger trying to tell you” was exactly what I needed. I was sitting in my office angry, with tears in my eyes and feeling like a 10 year old. The article talked about the very feelings I was having, but gave me a different way of dealing with the anger in a constructive way. I took myself back to the age of 46 years old, dried up my teary eyes, pulled up my big girl boots by the straps and I’m ready to tackle the issue. Thank you Gabrielle.

    Reply
  • September 29, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    I’m angry and cynical pretty much all the time, I seem to be surrounded by incompetence which makes me angry. I know humans aren’t perfect but sometimes I ask “what gives?” I’ve ruined an 18 year relationship because of my ranting. I’ve suffered from depression, have seen the relevant people, taken the tablets, had a go at being hypnotised. Idiocy seems to find me and I’m the one who seems to left to tell people how it is when they cock up.

    I’d really like to know how to control my anger, suppress it but without addictive drugs…please help, thanks

    Reply
  • October 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    I have Rage, espcially with my husband when it becomes time to pay the rent. My husband hasnt worked in 2 years, but always has money. We have been married 23 years. And money is a thorn. I feel as though he would allow me to spend my last dime and not even step in and help. He is so cheap. I feel used. I feel so stressed about the bills, while he sits back and says “Dont worry so much”. I feel rage ! I feel like I have a gorilla on back & is holding me underwater. Rage and I cannot express it properly.

    Reply
  • October 1, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Its great that you mention not to shy away from anger and rather change the mindset and look at it as a teacher. I studied quite a bit about anger from the perspective in ancient wisdom traditions. They all say anger is a weakness but can be used as a tool to learn about yourself and especially one’s mind. Science is also catching up with the fact that our happiness comes from our minds. Anyways, keep up the good work.

    Reply
  • October 1, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Same questions can be asked beneficially about other emotional staes such as depression or anxiety.

    Reply
  • October 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    •What do I actually need right now?
    •What’s this really about for me?

    Sounds like this hasn’t been thouoght through. Silly, slef-centered thoughts like above are a good way to perpetuate the anger, while helping the reader to think it is ok to be self-centered and angry.

    A bit more consideration will reveal the problem is not anger but self-centered thinking that did not take responsibility for developing answers for how to deal with anger and things that make you angry.

    Please, please think it through a bit more, Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

    Reply
  • October 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Hi, Paul

    I have had the same anger rise in me when I felt that people weren’t doing their jobs, etc. Why can’t they just “get it”? Then someone said to me – “Remember, not everyone is like you.” So that helped cool my steam. When someone eerks me I just remind myself that they are not me and do things differently. It has helped but I do understand your frustrations. Good luck!

    Reply
  • November 6, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    So “choose” to not be angry? That sounds exactly like the advice “just don’t be angry”.
    I have no idea what you’re talking about in regards to “what age I was” or reconsidering what I need / what this is about. Obviously what is at the bottom of anger is usually just hurt, but then what? A person can’t just talk themselves out of profound hurt. Altering one’s attitude won’t change the hurt. Self soothing doesn’t make it go away. Deciding that it’s not beneficial to hurt doesn’t change anything. This modern model for dealing with ourselves is so lacking.
    The last time I was angry was when I read this article, because I’m looking for help and only finding absolute nonsense.
    This was disappointing.

    Reply
 

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