If you’ve been keeping up with the news recently, you’re probably finding very good reasons to be angry. Between the abortion bans in Texas, rampant violence against women, and the mass deportation of Haitian refugees at the Texas border, it can feel like the world is in a constant state of upheaval. These feelings are only intensified by the ongoing realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic, homelessness, and food insecurity here in Philadelphia and around the world.
Anger in the face of these issues can be overwhelming. It’s easy to feel powerless when it comes to systemic issues because as much as we might want to, we can’t change institutions overnight. At the same time, we may still feel a great sense of responsibility to do something about these issues. It can feel frustrating that there are no easy solutions.
What Anger Can Teach Us
It’s important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with feeling and expressing anger, despite what respectability politics would have us believe. When it comes to the realm of activism, in particular, anger can be an indispensable teacher. It’s a helpful indicator of what needs to change in the world. It fuels us when we experience harm and when we witness injustice happening around us. Anger can be an incredible vessel for social change.
At the same time, even anger that’s more than justified, like anger about oppression, can negatively impact us if it goes unmanaged. Chronic anger weakens the immune system and increases our risk for anxiety and depression, along with various other health conditions. Our bodies are not designed to hold on to anger long-term. When we do experience chronic anger, our health suffers.
This might feel like yet another reason to be angry. Isn’t this just another way that institutional oppression is harming me and my community? How can I stop being angry when nothing’s getting better?
It’s Okay to Feel Angry
But there’s a difference between “stopping being angry” and practicing anger management. This is an important distinction for those of us who are passionate about activism and enacting social change. The goal is not to get rid of anger, but to learn how to live with it so that it doesn’t harm us. Ideally, we can even learn how to channel it into creativity, problem-solving, and change-making.
It’s difficult to maintain an activist practice long-term without learning how to process and move through emotions like anger. When we get “stuck” in anger, we can become anxious, irritable, and depressed. It can be difficult to show up for others when our own mental health is suffering. Conversely, when we learn how to move through our anger, we’re better equipped to help others. We’re more capable of flexible thinking, empathy, and envisioning new solutions. And we’re more capable of acting from a place of emotional clarity and intention – a place that’s difficult to access when we’re angry.
We can practice managing our anger without losing sight of the values and beliefs tied to that anger. In other words, healing from chronic anger doesn’t mean giving up our values and the things we’re passionate about. Instead, it means taking care of our bodies and minds so that we’re able to show up for the causes that matter to us.
How Serenity Solutions Can Help
If you’ve been overwhelmed with anger about the state of the world and want to make a difference, it will help immensely to invest in your own emotional health. On airplanes, we’re taught to put on our own oxygen masks before helping others put on theirs. The same is true of activism. If we’re not caring for ourselves, we can’t sustain a practice of caring for others and the world around us.
If you’ve been feeling consumed by anger and want to learn how to manage it so that you can be more present and intentional as a change-maker, Serenity Solutions’ Anger Management Group can help.
Give us a call at 267-317-8817 to learn more about how the group can help you with learning how to manage your anger. We want to support you in building the world you want to live in. Allow us to help you in starting that work within yourself.