There's a lot of angry people right now.
Some of them are behaving very badly and it's hard to watch. For me, the important thing to acknowledge is that anger in of itself is not a bad emotion to express.
Let me explain.
Every emotion we feel comes from a response related to what we care about and love - even the "negative" ones. Actually there is an argument to be made that "negative" emotions are in fact more powerful for our self-improvement than the "positive" ones especially when they are triggered by our dismay at seeing what we care about and love not being respected in some way. They help us to define what we hold dear and our boundaries about what our internal (absolute) Code of Ethics is. What becomes problematic about the expression of anger is that most of us don't know HOW to work with the anger we are feeling.
I'm angry right now, about the anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists that have hijacked the wellness industry. Seriously there are some complete nut-jobs out there - folx that I once admired and looked up to, some of them my mentors. I feel that it is appropriate to feel this anger when we realize that people not willing to comply with public health measures are harming everyone involved. That's because one of my core values is equity and fairness. Another value I hold is that all of us should contribute to the communities in which we live, even if it's hard, even if it's inconvenient. Being a part of a community showers us with lots of amazing benefits, but these benefits must be paid for by participating in the greater good. To me it's obvious that vaccinations can save us from the inevitable morphing of the Covid Virus into another, potentially more contagious/deadly variant. To me it's also obvious that the sooner we reach herd immunity, the sooner our lives can start to progress again. I am so over the "pause" and the loss of community that it has created. Seriously, 18 months is way long enough for us to all be working at home, on Zoom. I miss social interactions, I miss seeing my clients in person. Here in San Francisco we "opened up" in the middle of June but every day lately, the privileges of being out, unmasked, with friends or just being out and about are being taken away again because of a group of people that refuse to contribute to the society they live in. Ugh.
My anger is showing up as "People that are refusing to Vaccinate themselves are selfish - full stop". There is no place for this level of selfishness in a world where people are clamoring for vaccinations that are not available because they have the misfortune of living in a country that can not afford to vaccinate it's citizens, or will not do so for a litany of other reasons. I've had it with folx who refuse to cooperate with solving problems that require global cooperation - not just Covid, but climate crisis, wildfires and other environmental disasters, world hunger and water inequity, over consumption and rampant capitalism, and equal rights for all people.
So - What are you angry about?
Remember if you're angry, it’s because you care about something. If you feel angry, find what it is that you hold as as a core value and ask “How is my core value being violated?” Then ask “Am I willing to make sacrifices to protect my core value?”
That’s when it’s appropriate to use your anger.
Check in with your heart and your intuition.
Your heart needs to feel heartbroken because what you care about is being hurt and it will give you the courage to do something about it.
There are so many trespasses going on I find it important to check in with my intuition about what is the most important to me right now. Honestly we can't all take on every cause, there are just not enough hours in the day.
Accessing your Intuition can be as easy as taking a few quiet breaths, or doing a grounding exercise or there are a million and one mindfulness techniques and even apps out there.
What is at the heart of what is meaningful about life for you?
Take time to feel into it and connect to whatever has you feel that. Some other examples might be education disparities, racism, AI, human trafficking, homelessness, animal cruelty - you get the drift.
What do you really care about? Feel what bothers you.
What is the actual state of the world you live in?
Then ask yourself, “If this is really what I care about, what should I be doing to be congruent with my own self, my own core values?
What am I doing now that is different than that?
How do I close that gap?"
**If you haven't already discovered her - Karla McLaren M.Ed., does amazing work around the power of working with your emotions and reading her books made me realize that there is no such thing as positive and negative emotions. You can read more about her work on Anger here.