When anger gets in the way of personal growth


Photo by Alexandra Mirghes

Anger has always been a part of who I am. I grew up around frequent violence and the threat of being beaten up hung over my head on a daily basis.

This left me scared all the time, in fear of my safety, and was made all the worse by a feeling I had no one to turn to. As my childhood gave way to my teens, this fear slowly but surely transformed into anger, depression, low self-esteem. All the typical traits associated with poor mental health. Although it is now clear that I have been angry for a long time, it only really started to manifest itself on a frequent basis during in my 30s. Around the time I stopped self-medicating.

I didn’t express my anger at the right moments. It bottled up. I kept within me and in time I became it.

The usefulness of Anger

The strange thing is, anger does have its usefulness, depending on the context of course. It defended that small child I was and created an armour, that protected me from anyone who would attack. Also It manifested in arguments, in quickness of thought and logical processing. Anger was always looking for the angle where I could defeat all adversaries.

As time went on these adversaries appeared to me as they really were. Mental windmills that I wasted my energy on. They were ghosts that haunted my inner peace with conflict and pain. Ultimately I was fighting with no one else. Only myself.

Time to let it go

This realization made me understand anger is no longer necessary but unfortunately doesn’t want to go away. Like a stubborn virus, it will do anything to stay inside. If you are like me, then you will recognize when anger comes out. You will see it when that small thing sets you off and your reaction is immediate, loud, and disproportionate. It´s as if fumes are coming out of your eyes, your hands are just giant knuckles looking to punch something, your adrenaline jumps through the roof, and you are ready to fight with literally anything.

You mount this enormous battle against a broken glass, an unfinished task, or trying to do more than one thing at a time. Or, my personal favourite, predicting something is going to happen, and when it does, my inevitable response: “I knew it, this stuff always happens to me”! Then the anger appears, and I am out of control.

Whatever it is that sets us off, it is because we gave it way too much attention, or energy (which is basically the same thing).  In of themselves, these things are not important, they just act as triggers. It is worth noting that there always comes a time when we have the ability to observe ourselves.

We can recognize where we usually go just before we are about to behave in the usual angry fashion.

These are precious moments that open the window to the knowledge of the self, to see the triggers and with luck be able to let them go. In doing so we are able to see that anger has truly outlived its usefulness. That it is now standing in the way of our personal growth.

That is where I am now. 

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