I want to live a peaceful existence. I truly do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t reserve the right to get angry.
Last week, my daughter and I went to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and I’ve gotta tell you — that Mildred Hayes character has some serious balls. I couldn’t get enough of her. At least half a dozen times, my daughter looked over at me with this Hell, YEAH look on her face.
Hell, YEAH, baby girl. When you’ve been wronged, don’t let anyone shut you up. Go right ahead and get angry.
Last year, a dear friend of mine was wronged.
Wronged enough, I think, to have warranted a couple of billboards. But it took months for her to find the courage to even squeak like a mouse. No billboards happening here. Nope. We’re just too damn polite.
So, when I saw Mildred cursing like a trucker, I got all riled up. I wanted to go back to 2017 for a re-do; encourage my friend to revisit all of her carefully tempered responses and freak the hell out. Let me tell you, they — those people who hurt my person — they ought to consider themselves lucky that Three Billboards wasn’t released until November.
Really, though, is it any wonder we’re hesitant to get angry, or at least show it?
At a young age, we’re told to curb our tempers. We’re taught that outbursts aren’t acceptable. As we evolve from young girls into young ladies, we’re told it’s unbecoming to get angry. And once we reach womanhood, we fully expect our expressions of anger to be greeted by the mother of all anger-inducing questions:
“Are you getting your period?”
Get angry and we risk being called ridiculous, hysterical, insane, out of control, and worse. So, what do we do when we’ve been wronged? Many of us tread nicely, nicely, even when we should be ROARING. It makes me crazy. There’s so much I want to SHOUT about, and I definitely do make quite a bit of noise, but when I do I’m still so conscious that I’m not being the woman I was raised to be.
If I had to choose between raising a lady or raising a Mildred Hayes, I might just choose Mildred (without some of the extreme behaviour).
But we shouldn’t have to choose. Still, people judge and many of us give just too much of a damn about what other people think. We don’t want to lose approval, not to mention friends. We don’t want to be judged for judging others, which is essentially what we do when we express our anger publicly, isn’t it? We call them out.
How often have you said or heard someone say, there’s no point in getting angry, getting angry won’t help, anger doesn’t accomplish a thing?
I think such statements are (unintentionally) narrow-minded. They assume that the point of expressing anger is to move in the direction of some kind of resolution with the individual who caused it. That’s not necessarily the case. Furthermore, getting angry isn’t the same as staying angry.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
“For every minute you remain angry, you give up 60 seconds of peace.”
Can’t argue with that. Still, some of the benefits of getting angry are worth the cost.
A few good reasons to get angry.
(If my pro-anger stance concerns you, scroll down to What Anger is Not.)
1. Anger inspires action.
Let your boss pile straw after straw on your back and eventually, you’re bound to break. If breaking looks like a puddle of tears and only you can see them, not much is going to change. But if breaking looks like anger, your boss is going to know that enough is enough and either he/she is going to have to make some changes, or you are.
2. Anger unites.
A catalyst for social change, anger unites like-minded individuals to fight for justice. When the passionate feel threatened, they channel their fear into activism. Think #metoo, #blacklivesmatter, #nobannowall — the list goes on. These and other powerful movements weren’t started by people who thought it best to stifle their anger.
3. Anger promotes accountability.
One of the things my ex-husband and I disagreed on was the value of guilt. He said it was pointless. He didn’t believe in it. I argued and still maintain that guilt is a moral compass. I wouldn’t want anyone to experience guilt solely for the sake of suffering, but in the interest of learning, I’m all for it. Directing anger towards a guilty party forces them to acknowledge responsibility. And I believe we should all be accountable for our actions.
4. Anger is a means of communication.
My ex (yep, him again) used to pride himself in his ability to remain calm. It was INFURIATING! Honestly, in our 10 or so years together, he didn’t once suggest he was unhappy … until the day he told me that things just hadn’t felt quite right for him in, hmmm, 10 or so years! I’m not saying we would have survived if it weren’t for this decade-long facade. I’m pretty sure we weren’t meant to be. I’m just saying keeping calm ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.
5. Anger dissipates anger.
I am so NOT good at hiding my feelings. (Anyone who knows me will tell you that this a gross understatement.) Not only do I suck at hiding my emotions, I hate hiding them because they just boil and bubble up inside of me until I find myself overwhelmed with toxic crap. So sure, you can tell me not to get angry, but you won’t be doing anyone any favours. On the other hand, encourage me to acknowledge and express my anger and I’ll be back to my happy old self far sooner.
What anger is NOT.
Anger has a bad rap on account of its association with violence, cruelty, and revenge, but these do not define anger; rather, they are outcomes of mismanaged anger. Granted, controlled anger may leave one wanting to be violent, cruel or vengeful. However, the very nature of it being controlled means that it is none of these things.
Yes, anger always has a subject (sometimes a traffic jam; more often another human being), but it is not something we subject others to. Rather, it is a natural human response to certain triggers; one that can serve as a cue for action, change, ownership or communication.
On a lighter note, have you ever heard of rage rooms?
Yeah. They’re a thing. They’ve been around for a while. Apparently, I’ve been living under a rock. In case you’ve been under one, too, here’s how they work. You throw on some protective gear, grab a baseball bat, and start smashing stuff to smithereens.
Not only are rage rooms a great option for letting off steam; they’re way cheaper than therapy. Plus, they make for interesting dates and team-building retreats. What’s not to love about that?
So, if you want to get angry but don’t trust yourself to maintain control, pay a visit to The Wrecking Club in Manhattan, The Rage Room in Toronto, or The Anger Room in Dallas, where they invite you to:
“Come in. Break sh*t. Leave happy.”
To learn more about these and other rage rooms, check out this article written by reporter Penelope Green after she decided to give one a whack. And if you decide to pay one of these fine establishments a visit, here’s hoping you have a smashing good time!
Viv for today xo
I’ve just rambled on about the upside of anger, but if you’re looking for something more blatantly positive, how about some affirmations?
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