Anger points the way, not just the finger.
I’ve always thought that only celebrities have anger management issues, especially when they are being hounded by paparazzi. For me, I’ve been taught that anger is negative, wrong, and to be avoided at all cost. I tend to deny, rationalize, and internalize anger.
My view of anger took a sharp turn after reading The Artist’s Way. Julia Cameron, its author, opened the chapter entitled Recovering a Sense of Power with the following paragraph about anger:
Anger is meant to be acted upon. It is not meant to be acted out. Anger points the direction. We are meant to use anger as fuel to take the actions we need to move where our anger points us. With a little thought, we can usually translate the message that our anger is sending us.
My anger is telling me something. I need to listen carefully to what it is saying. For example, if I’ve just been turned down for a promotion or declined for a new job with more responsibilities. I may be upset about my boss, the interviewer, the company, or perhaps even myself. Note that this is quite typical for baby boomers who have plateaued in their career paths. We may feel that we have all the qualification we need for the higher position or the new job, such as the required academic degree, the industry experience, the dedication, etc. All we need is just one opportunity to prove it, but nobody is willing to give us a chance.
Any reasonable human being will feel angry in such a situation. One common albeit undesirable response is to hold a grudge against your boss or anybody as a matter of fact. Baby boomers, you and I have such a wealth of life experience that we may not resort to that kind of lose-lose response. Instead, we often bottle it up and suffer in silence.
Is it indeed true that there is nothing we can do to improve our lot in life? Perhaps, upgrade our skills, network better, or simply work harder. What if we had tried all the remedial actions and still came up short?
If no one will give us that career opportunity that we deserve, what is stopping us to start up our own company and hire ourselves?
What is your anger telling you?
Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry — but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.