St. Augustine has a wonderful quote about anger. "Hope has two beautiful daughters. Anger that things are the way they are. Courage to make them the way they ought to be." I find comfort in his belief that hope can give birth to anger and courage. Anger can be a great motivating source. Imagine if Ghandi never got angry at the way things were in India? What if the Founding Fathers never got mad they were taxed without representation? Anger can often get us to change things, to make a difference in our life, to shake things up. Sometimes we have to get really angry before we can see how far off our spiritual path we've wandered. And that's okay too.
Where anger becomes a problem is when we find it difficult to move through that emotion to the next one -- courage to make the changes required by the thing we're mad about. I know someone whose husband divorced her for another woman, actually a friend of hers. It was 1982. He was an investment banker, so she received a generous alimony that she would continue to receive until she remarried. So just to stick it to him, she never remarried. She's 67 now, lives alone and still receives that monthly alimony check. Her ex is still happily married to the woman he left her for. Hmm, so did she really stick it to him? How is that anger serving her?
I have a client whom I'll call Jan. She and her five sisters were raised by an angry father who only got angrier during drunken rages. Twelve years ago, he entered AA, straightened up his life and apologized to his whole family. Everyone accepted his apology except my client Jan. Now she's mad at her sisters for sharing the holidays with their dad and so she gets to spend the holidays alone. How is her anger serving her?
There are several members of my family -- too many to count -- who get ridiculously angry over politics. However, unless they choose to start petitions, write editorials or run for office themselves, how is that anger serving them? All it does is raise their blood pressure.
If you're feeling angry about someone or something in your life, analyze that anger. Often what we're really angry at is our lack of control over the situation. I remember reading a research article that said 90% of people don't cry due to sadness but rather frustration because they have no control over the situation. You might be angry because you've allowed a situation to go on for too long. You might be angry because people have treated you badly. Unfairness is common root of anger. Look at your anger and then ask yourself, "Is this anger serving me or am I serving it?" Look at the ways in which you are feeding your anger. How often do you think about the situation or person you're angry with? How often do you talk about it with friends?
Anger isn't all bad. Anger is empowering. It reminds us that we have a right to feel our feelings. Anger gets us moving and changing our lives. Where anger is bad is when we choose to stay stuck there. Ask yourself if you're staying stuck with anger in a part of your life. Is there an old boss you're still mad at? Do you have unresolved anger with a parent or sibling? Do you still hold resentment toward an ex? And then there's the big question: are you mad at yourself?
Once you can recognize the source of your anger, try sending love to yourself and the person or situation involved. Just picture waves of pink and white light braiding around the two of you wrapping you in healing energy. Ask God to heal the situation for you affirming that you are open to looking at this situation or person in a new light. Repeat to yourself, "I am willing to release the need to feel angry."
Once you drop the anger, you'll feel so much healthier and lighter. It's the best diet out there!