Anger is a Productive Emotion and You're Allowed to Feel It.
Anger is a productive emotion and you’re allowed to feel it.
If I could, I would stitch that on a pillow and give it to everyone I know. I would also put said pillows in every room of my house.
That’s how important a reminder I think it is. I’m a big believer in letting yourself feel your emotions–– acknowledging when life is great and you’re happy, letting yourself wallow for a few hours if you need to when you’re sad. But anger is a tougher emotion for me. It’s not as palatable to the general public, so sometimes I stray from it and pretend not to feel it.
I have the opposite of “resting bitch face.” This is to say that even if I’m in a terrible mood, you’d probably never know, because the face I’m showing the world is at best, happy, and at worst, neutral. Never angry. Never upset. Never impatient. Never an emotion that might inconvenience.
So what happens when you have every reason and right to be angry? There’s such a push for positivity, which I think is great. Positivity gets me through 99% of my days. But what about the other 1%? The days where you wake up and your symptoms are so bad you can’t get out of bed? The days where your steroid-induced tremors cause you to drop a cupcake in your own lap at a family party? The days when it feels like life is one step forward and five steps back?
Do you push yourself to look on the bright side and be more positive? I’ve tried that, but in my experience trying to force yourself to feel feelings that aren’t authentic to you at the moment will generally just make you feel worse. So I’m trying something new. I’m giving myself permission to just be angry.
I’m giving myself permission to vent, whether it’s to my best friends or my mom or my journal (or this blog). I’m giving myself permission to eat a really big piece of cake and listen to “Don’t Hurt Yourself” on repeat and channel my inner-scorned-Beyonce. I’m giving myself permission to lean into the anger and truly feel it. Because when you’re young and sick and feel like you’re missing out on real life, you’ve got some stuff to be angry about. I don’t carry it around on a daily basis and let it define me, but on the particularly bad days when anger rears its ugly head, I no longer try to force it back down into a neat little box. I let it out, and it feels good.
So if you’re angry at the world on a given day–– because you haven’t gotten the promotion you deserve, or because you’re feeling under appreciated in your relationship, or because a sexual predator just won the presidency and you can’t even win a freaking sweepstakes–– really feel it. And use that anger to fuel something else, whether it’s a creative pursuit, or a foray into political advocacy, or just a really great shower sing-a-long to Alanis Morissette (the ultimate “angry and not sorry about it” woman of our time). Anger, when harnessed correctly, can make us powerful little storms, as long as we know how to control it without letting it control us. So be happy, be sad, be mad–– be whatever it is you are today and know that it’s okay.