Have you seen (or played) this latest super-addictive Facebook/iPhone game? I’m not much of a gamer, but these little guys caught my attention the other day because I was mad about something or other and thought my facial expression probably looked a little bit like this:
I get angry kind of easily these days, because it’s cold and miserable and kind of ugly around here. But truthfully, I’m not good at expressing my anger. I don’t go around with a scowl on my face like this red-bird here and I always try to be pleasant and cheerful. If I get really mad, I’ll wait until I get home and throw something at the wall.
But then I go back to being nice.
I don’t think that’s the healthiest way to express anger. But I was taught that anger was one of those “not nice” emotions…like jealousy and spitefulness. If you were angry about something, you’d best just get out of sight until you got over it. No foot stomping or screaming fits were tolerated. And because I was an only child, constantly surrounded by adults, there was no other outlet for anger. No younger sister to bully, no older brother to pummel with my little fists. I learned to control this emotion at a very early age, to swallow those angry feelings like the bitter pill they were and pretend that everything was hunky dory.
Traditionally, women in general are not encouraged to have angry feelings. Angry women are “shrews” or “witches” (or worse). We’re never taught to express anger correctly, because we’re not even supposed to be angry in the first place. But anger can be constructive if we know how to use it. The Hawaiian goddess, Pele, is said to have become enraged when her boat became entangled in the roots of a hala tree. She ripped the tree to shreds and threw the remnants across the island, where they sprouted and grew into strong, beautiful trees which the Hawaiian people have been enjoying ever since.
I can actually imagine myself doing that if I happened to be in Hawaii, and happened to get my boat entangled in the roots of some stupid tree.
If you get angry enough and you know how to channel that anger into something productive, then the repercussions can be positive and long lasting.
Case in point – the Egyptian people, who have taken their anger about years of repression, and turned it into a strong enough rebellion to affect major changes in their government.
On a smaller, and much more personal level, I’ve been angry about my job lately, an anger that I’ve been swallowing for a long time in keeping with the teaching of my youth. Finally, after some long talks with a colleague, my angry feelings spurred me to think about ways to change things and to talk to my boss about starting the process of that change.
Sometimes it’s alright to be an Angry Bird.
How about you? Do you acknowledge and express your anger constructively?