Anger is a very powerful force to be reckoned with, and people respond to it in different ways. Some respond with aggression and want to hit something or someone, scream, curse, break something, blame someone, throw a tantrum, or tell someone off. Others try to repress their anger. They tell themselves that they’re decent people and will try various methods to control their emotions; they count to 10, deny it, bury it, ignore it or medicate it. Neither of these alternatives are conducive to a healthy outcome.
I believe anger is our emotional radar detector, a voice, a warning signal, a plea for help, telling us that something is not right in our world.
Here’s an idea: Why not listen to your anger? That’s right, listen to it. It obviously has your attention. In fact, it’s demanding your attention. When used properly, anger can be one of your greatest teachers. I believe anger is our emotional radar detector, a voice, a warning signal, a plea for help, telling us that something is not right in our world—that we are going in the wrong direction. Allow me to explain.
Growing up, I acquired many fears and limiting beliefs about the world and myself. For a great part of my life, I believed circumstances determined my fate. I didn’t understand I could have chosen a better way. My experiences with adults, teachers and my peers led me to believe that I simply wasn’t good enough or smart enough. After being saddled with the dubious high school honor of “Least Likely to Succeed,” after being told by a guidance counselor that I didn’t have the intelligence to make it through college, I wore the label “loser” with a certain amount of twisted pride.
But years of feeling inadequate, of habitual negative thinking, eventually created labels that led me to believe that dreams were the luxury of only a fortunate few and I wasn’t one of them. I woke up every morning waiting for my life to happen. If anyone needed an attitude adjustment, it was me.
Related: Why It’s All About Attitude
The real danger set in when I left home and tried to make it on my own. Looking back at my life, I can see how and why I sabotaged so many opportunities. Unaware, I carried with me many of my unresolved negative labels and limiting beliefs. As a result, I kept reliving the same mistakes and failures over and over again. I knew I had the talent, but I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting my big break.
My perceived limitations had me confused. My fears paralyzed me. In fact, I figured out that I had a fear of failure and a fear of success. (Talk about not being able to make up your mind.) Sounds crazy, but I never said I was normal.
Eventually I responded to the fear with both aggressive and repressed anger. Regardless of what form it took, anger was controlling my life. At the time, I didn’t know I had options on how to respond or that I could have created a healthier belief system simply by consistently shifting my focus and way of thinking. I honestly was clueless to what I know now: that you empower yourself when you realize that anger is not meant to be acted out, but to be acted upon. It is not to be repressed, but revealed. You have to listen to the underlying message that fear and the anger that’s associated with it are trying to tell you
I was allowing the toxic labels that had been thrust upon me to dictate the story of my life.
When I came to the understanding that my anger had invaluable information for me, I began to use it as a transformational tool, a teacher and a guide. Anger made me realize that opportunity had been knocking all along—I was just afraid to open the door. I was allowing the toxic labels that had been thrust upon me to dictate the story of my life. It was anger that made me realize that you empower yourself when you feel the fear and move forward anyway. Anger is my emotional compass, and until this day, it always points me in the direction that I need to go.
Anger needs to be respected. Anger reminds us that we’re not on the right track and shows us where we want to go and what our boundaries are. Anger can transform our lives when it is viewed as a friend and teacher that’s trying to guide us on the road to recovery. With a little shift in thinking, we can decipher the message that anger is sending us, make the appropriate choices to turn our lives around and forge ahead with confidence. The choice is ours. It always has been.
Steve Rizzo is the Attitude Adjuster. You can’t attend one of his keynote speeches and leave with the same attitude. He’s a personal development expert, comedian, motivational speaker, and best-selling author. It’s no surprise that he’s been inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame, an honor bestowed upon on fewer than 250 speakers worldwide since 1977. You can find out more at www.steverizzo.com.