Sometimes, people think it is wrong to be angry. I guess it depends on the context. A mother who gets mad with her child for being clumsy and breaking something is not experiencing a good kind of anger. Someone consumed with jealousy and furious because their partner showed interest in someone else is also experiencing a sort of anger that Edward Bach considered unhealthy. That is the spiky-aggressive Holly anger. Yet anger counts as one of the basic emotions of human beings, alongside fear, disgust, sadness, happiness, and surprise. (This means that if you showed photos of people facially expressing these emotions, anyone could identify them; we share this commonality of emotions.) Evolution gave us anger. In a previous blog post I looked at the different types of anger we encounter in the Bach flower remedy system.
At the moment, I’m musing about the type of anger that is not destructive but motivational. There have been some evenings where I have watched the news that my anger towards Putin and his senseless destruction of Ukraine activated me. Freiburg (in southwest Germany, where I live) is a partner city to Lviv in west Ukraine, and I collected donations from friends and passed that on. Like many of you, I organised care packets sent directly from Freiburg to Lviv. This kind of anger makes me want to do something; I turned it in to help, which also made me feel less helpless. It’s not a kind of anger directly destructive towards another person. (But I’m sure I’d be ‘mad’ with Putin if I ever met him.) On a more personal level, I've also experienced injustice, which made me mad but motivated to get something done. To be specific, it was completing my dissertation during my PhD. Someone treated me badly, but instead of sinking into a hard-done-by-Willow feeling, it spurned me on to get out of the situation. One of my supervisors recognised this side of my character and quietly said that my sheer bloody-mindedness got me through my studies. I thought that was quite a compliment.
My bottom line is when you experience anger, check out what kind of anger it is. If something is wrong, and you know it’s not doing you good, your anger might help you initiate change. It might be this kind of anger that is the motivation for members of Extinction Rebellion. The main issue surrounding anger is not getting stuck in it; getting stuck in anger is stressful and can cause all kinds of health issues, from a stomach ulcer to high blood pressure.
So while I’m not 100% with Dr Bach in the following quote – I nearly am:
“We must steadfastly practice peace, imagining our minds as a lake ever to be kept calm, without waves, or even ripples, to disturb its tranquillity, and gradually develop this state of peace until no event of life, no circumstance, no other personalities are able under any condition to ruffle the surface of that lake or raise within us feelings of irritability, depression or doubt.”
Thanks to Andre Hunter Unsplash for the angry image.
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