Thankful Thursday: Anger Isn’t Always Bad

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“Criticism always seems to add inspiration to your pursuit of success. Strip away the anger and bias. And use the rest as fuel.”
-Dan Waldschmidt

 

 

 

I’m grateful for the anger this week. That statement might leave some of you confused.

How can she be happy that she was angry?  Isn’t anger bad?

You’re not wrong. Anger isn’t an emotion anyone should go for especially if your true intention is to live in harmony with yourself and the world around you.

But it’d be false to say that feeling anger doesn’t creep up from time to time. Life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to and our response to stressful situations really breaks down to biology: we go into survival mode, our bodies react by producing more cortisol, and our adrenaline picks up. In short, we become physically tense and that inevitably bleeds into our mental and emotional state. Anger is a natural byproduct of stress.

So why am I grateful for being angry this week?

There are times when we need a jolt to break us out of a monotony. Sometimes it’s a check in the ‘win’ column, with a promotion or a chance meeting with a new friend or partner that you truly click with. Other times it’s changing old habits and finding new hobbies or exploring interests so that you feel energized and motivated to meet challenges with optimism.

Then there are those times that you really just need a kick in the pants. Where the cycle you find your life in is so destructive and soul-crushing that you’re numb day in and day out.

I’ve been there for longer than I care to say, and for the first time in a very long time, I felt real anger. I allowed that emotion, all white-hot and fiery, to consume me for a little while this week as I metaphorically shook my fist at the world (really, I just turned my phone off and avoided people for a few days while I mentally cursed the universe).

Then the tide shifted and I found energy underneath all of that frustration. The intensity of my anger has dissipated to a simmer, but what I feel more than anything is a fierce need to change my circumstances. My drive has doubled and I’m attacking each day as an opportunity.

I’m not saying that anger is the answer. At its core, anger does more to limit us if you hold onto the grudge for too long. It’s also self-indulgent. We’re so focused on being pissed off at what’s going on within our heads, that we neglect to see the upsides happening all around us, all the time.

What’s important to realize is that we need to allow ourselves to experience what we’re going through from top to bottom. Do not dismiss any part of that because you think you should be more forgiving or that you should be positive always. Those are lofty goals and at the end of the day, we’re all human. Admit to yourself that you’re angry, and then ask yourself, why?

Being self-aware and honest opens so many doors down the road. I was honestly angry for so many reasons this week, but the great thing is that I was able to apply that constructively to resolve some of the conflicts I mentioned last week, in a way that was positive. How could I not be grateful for that?

Thankful Thursday Food4ThoughtNYC  4/10/14

How do you experience anger?

Does anger help you or harm you?

What are you thankful for this week?

Please feel free to share in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂
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Thankful Thursday: Love in Conflict

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“The point of living and of being an optimist is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come.” –Peter Ustinov
“Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness.” –Sacha Guitry

I once was asked how I balance my personal life with my public life. It was an odd question. Since I started blogging, I have been fairly open with the inner struggles I faced over the last few years. It was important to me to be authentic and honest with each post, and some of it has been cathartic in its own way.

But as I sat down to write out my gratitude journal for this week, I realized that there are many things I keep behind closed doors. I had one unspoken golden rule when it came to blogging: Don’t talk about your relationships. Especially conflicts.

It’s a sound policy. Keep those things personal and focus on the general issues that most people can relate to. Throw in a recipe here or there.  It’ll be fine.

Then I had to stop and ask myself: Is this really authentic? As someone who chooses to sit down week after week to share their gratitude, is it honest to ignore the struggles I face with others during my journey? Aren’t those conflicts an important factor in our personal growth and don’t they become learning experiences in and of themselves?

I’m in conflict from every angle: internally, with a partner, with a coworker, with family. It seems like I’m at odds with the universe these days and I’m left trying to figure out how to deal with it all.

I strive to be a good person in all aspects of my life. I take my relationships seriously and give myself over completely to the people I’ve come to love and trust over the years. In some ways, that’s been my fatal flaw. I’ve had people take advantage of my generosity because they knew that I would always be there, sticking it out because I told myself that I needed to, as a good friend or partner. It became an aspect of myself that I regarded as weak.

It took me a long time to understand that this wasn’t a weakness. Being a giver allows me to connect to people on a deeper level. I can share with them and empathize. Be a part of their lives in a profound way, even if it’s temporary. Those are the relationships worth giving myself over to and that’s not something I’m looking to change.

The part that I have learned, though, is that I need to manage my emotions with others, especially when I’m in conflict with them. And that brings me back to these past few weeks where it feels like there’s discord everywhere I turn. I’m figuring out how to apply the principles of gratitude and positive thinking to these situations and it feels like I’m failing miserably. So much so, that I’m breaking my golden rule and coming on here to talk about it out loud.

How do you manage your feelings and expectations of others, when they’re completely blocking you out? At what point do you stop putting yourself on the front lines of a daily barrage of hostility? What do you do when a loved one completely abandons you with no explanation and tells you to be patient when you try to figure out why?

I don’t have any answers right now, and it’s tough to find an upside when I feel like my heart keeps breaking over and over.

Then I was reminded of one truth that proves conflict doesn’t always mean the end of things. In my need to feel connected and a bit of love, I reached out to some friends who I’ve felt disconnected from lately. I broke down in tears yesterday when one of them listened as I went on and on about a work issue, and responded with, “I love you.” That’s all. And it was exactly the right thing to say.

I chided myself for losing sight of the bigger picture. Right now, it sucks. I don’t see the light. Things are still in patchy shades of grey. You can’t please everyone. And sometimes, people need to figure out what they’re doing on their own without input from the outside world. That means that I also have to be understanding that I can’t expect to fix everyone else’s problems. And even more importantly, I have to be mindful of how much I’m willing to give in conflict when the other person is giving me nothing.

Relationships are a give and take, and I’m still trying to find the balance between the two. I hope that the people in my life right now will stick around. It saddens me to think they might not. But at the end of the day, I can be grateful that I’m going at it constructively and with the intention for peace and love in my heart.

I’m not alone no matter how much I feel like I am.  And for that, I give thanks.

Gratitude Journal 4/3/14

 What are you grateful for today?

Please feel free to share below, or on Facebook and Twitter!

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

 

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Thankful Thursday: Keep it Simple

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I was this close to not sharing my journal this week. Then I decided to keep it simple.

Given how it’s the only thing I’m posting these days (yes, I’m perfectly aware that I’ve been a bit off target with my articles of late), I have no excuse. None.

And really, keeping this journal has been one of the few things to keep me tethered to that divine energy I have inside of me. I forget it’s there sometimes. The ins and outs of each day with the challenges that keep me up late into the night are enough to make me stop in my tracks and forget about thanking anyone for anything.

 

Then I remember how awesome I feel just seeing this little graphic each week highlighting the things that put a smile on my face. You guys can’t see what I see when I reflect back on those moments, but I hope I can convey how they make me feel , especially because each of these things were lifesavers.

That’s the thing about choosing to live life mindfully with your eyes open. Sometimes there’s so much to see, some of it difficult and painful,  that all you want to do is shut out the world and run away.  And other times, the littlest thing is enough to make you laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of it all.

Hence my Doctor Who reference. Raise your hand if you’re a fellow Whovian! High five friend!

I hope everyone on the East coast experiencing storm #2901783978497369 this winter season is somewhere warm and safe surrounded by blankets and (healthy) snacks. Remember, sharing is caring.

If you’re looking to get on the joy train, tell me, what are you thankful for this week?

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As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

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