"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned" ~ Zen Buddhism
This quote is a reminder of how much anger can hurt us if we hold on to it. Now, I’m not saying that we should throw the hot coal at others either to limit our own pain. Instead, we should pull apart what is causing us to become angry to point where it's hurting us and potentially others.
It’s important to recognize that anger IS NOT a bad emotion. Anger often stems from other emotions or feelings such as grief and sadness. It’s often our way of knowing when something is “too” much. Anger is a healthy emotion that can lead to positive change. Many social changes stem from people being angry. Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr., never got angry?
Anger can also help us determine what we dislike in social relationships; in most cases making them healthier. During a flight or fight response, anger produces the strength and assertiveness that is needed for one's voice to be heard.
Here are a few tips to help with processing those feelings of anger:
1. Pay attention to the feelings and emotions that come before anger
2. Understand what calms you down to better process those emotions and feelings
3. Determine if your anger can be turned into something positive and constructive
4. If you get stuck, talk to a professional that can help you with the above steps
Anger is not all bad and just like any positive emotion it too deserves an outlet, once emotionally regulated and productive. So, the next time you get angry, pull it apart and think to yourself. "Why am I so bothered by this?" "Do I need this emotion to drive positive change?" "Where is this anger coming from?"