I’ve been observing ways in which I see anger being expressed that can be effective instead of just reactive. There is nothing wrong with anger per se. Marshal Rosenberg says, “Anger is a tragic expression of unmet needs.” Which means we may often feel varying levels of anger in any given day. It’s how we express our anger that can become the problem.
Non-Violent Communication, A Tool For Effective Anger
One of the situations I have been observing is the Occupy Wall Street movement here in lower Manhattan, where I see an example of effective anger being utilized. Although, there is quite a bit of both internal and external conflict, I see the people in the movement as a whole taking their anger and using it to fuel their energy to rally, organize and speak up. Most decisions are made by consensus, which has an inclusive quality. They are employing a lot of empathy skills and being trained in empathy and “Nonviolent Communication”. Whatever happens with this movement, I have been impressed with the level of integrity and focus that many of the people involved are demonstrating. In my mind this movement is an example of how to make effective use of anger through channeling it towards a purpose and in doing so reaching out for tools to assist in staying on course, thus not getting too side tracked by reactivity.
I Believe One Of The Ways We Can Overcome Our Anger And Upset Is To Develop Our Empathy Skills.
When we understand what is happening with ourselves and with others we can find ourselves less angry. When situations occur that stimulate anger we tend to get an adrenaline surge. Our bodies react by having varying sensations like tightness in our chest, neck, shoulders or sweaty palms, heat etc. Our thoughts then start racing to make sense of what is happening in the body. If we can take some space to empathize with what is going on with us at the time, and know that we may be needing to be understood, to be seen etc. We can start to self connect and in self-connecting we can calm down a little. If we are able to sufficiently calm down we might have the capacity to understand and empathize with what might be happening to the other person in the situation. When we are able to do this, it has been my experience, that in most cases the anger dissipates. Instead we might shift to other feelings like sadness or hurt. From this place of sadness and hurt we generally have a better chance of communicating and connecting with others because we are no longer in opposition. This is not always easy to do, especially when we are highly triggered. However, knowing it is possible, and learning tools and practicing them can help us change. When we practice and see positive results it can give us hope and allows us to make the changes we want.