The other day I woke up and wanted to know what time it was. It was still dark outside and I needed to light up the screen on my alarm clock to see the time, but I pressed a wrong button, accidentally hitting the one that runs through the sounds options. Loud obnoxious screeches filled the bedroom, followed by a few choice expletives of my own.
“Oh good”, I sarcastically said to myself, “I woke up angry, what a great way to start the day.”
And let me back up a step here. You see I am not usually angry, let alone first thing in the morning. In fact I am a morning person and I usually have a rather sunny disposition. So let me explain.
The anger I felt was born out of a sense of hopelessness I had been feeling for a while now. I was feeling discouraged, exhausted, and depressed. I had been working really hard to help myself to a better feeling place, but none of it had worked for very long. I resented that and I was fresh out of energy and out of ideas. In other words, I felt powerless. Which is a really nice way of saying that part of me felt like a victim of circumstance. Much as I hate to admit that, but essentially that is what I was feeling.
I had been feeling angry more often than I can ever remember being. Anger has always been a difficult emotion for me. I have heard people say that it can sometimes feel good to be angry, but that has never been my experience. For some reason I grew up feeling that anger was unacceptable. I grew up to believe that anger was something to be avoided at all times. I did mellow over the years, and could at times allow anger. (Well…for about 5 minutes and then it’s time to feel good again.) But now, I couldn’t hide from it anymore. A part of me was really angry and that part wanted, no demanded, to be heard.
I talked to Hans about it recently and we both agreed that feeling angry for once was actually a big step up for me. It meant I was allowing myself to feel what is ultimately just a very natural emotion. And my life had been challenging this past year. I had been through a lot, had worked (too) hard and was feeling burned out, which can be a tough thing to come back from. Feeling overworked and still having to WORK your way back to feeling better can feel like a catch 22.
So I was angry. Angry at Life for not making things easier, for not showing me a way out. Angry that this was my reward for all of that hard work. I realised that everything that happens serves me, but I needed some easier… servings, so to speak. Dish me up some joy for a change. I was utterly DONE doing things the hard way and was really jonesing for some ease, some lightness, some fun. But when you feel that down in the dumps, those feelings are simply out of reach.
The day before that lovely wake up call at the beginning of this article I had talked about it to Hans. I said that I didn’t have the energy to do anything other than watch TV, but at the same time resented that. Watching TV for hours is a waste of time and therefore unacceptable to me (I think you can see the problem here). He hates to see me feeling this way, it makes him feel powerless to help. He suggested that it might help to forget about the problem for a little while. He said: “just do what you can do, and if the only thing you can do is just watch TV, then by all means, just watch TV”.
Good advice, so that is exactly what I did. And now that I had let go of my resentment, I actually enjoyed watching episodes of my favorite tv shows (for those who are wondering: currently I am enjoying Masterchef Australia (best one by far) and NCIS (gotta love Abby Sciuto). I was feeling much better. I made some delicious tomato soup (from scratch) and we spent the evening having fun with friends. Things were looking up.
The relentless optimist in me thought that the hard part was over now. That it would be all uphill from here. That it was good to have experienced my anger, but that I learned my lesson and was now ready to move on.
That very next day was the moment I described at the beginning of this article. The moment my alarm decided to test my new resolve. You see that waking up angry was not at all what I was expecting, right? It was like: “OH, COME ON…AGAIN?! But before the anger could gain momentum I remembered something I heard in an inspiring video, by Abraham Hicks.
It explained that people are usually advised against feeling anger. But when you are feeling powerless, anger can actually be a step up. It is usually not helpful to stay in anger, but it can help to consciously choose anger as a way to reclaim your power. From that place of power you can then choose other, more helpful ways to deal with the situation. And that is exactly what I felt. It felt great to feel a sense of power again. Once I acknowledged that I was not powerless at all but that I always have a choice, all anger evaporated and I felt good again. Now, to be clear, it was not all rainbows and unicorns just yet, but I felt at peace. I felt calm, content, even hopeful.
I know now that the anger I felt served me, that the anger actually lifted me up! I know it is good that I allowed that part of me to be heard. And that it is understandable and yes even acceptable that I would feel some anger and frustration from time to time. But most importantly, that I remember now that I have a choice. I always, always, always have a choice. Instead of feeling hard done by, and feeling as though life is forcing me to sit on the couch and do nothing, I get to CHOOSE to relax and take it easy.
“Stop believing that it is wrong for you
to choose what feels best to you.
It is right for you to choose what feels best to you.”
I am happy to report that I have since recovered from the state of burnout I was in when I wrote this. But I wanted to share it with you anyway in the hopes that when you find yourself in a situation that leaves you feeling powerless you too can remember how natural it is to feel that way from time to time. And perhaps, like me, you too can once again reclaim your power. Choose anger. Yell into empty space for a while if you have to, rant on paper by typing the frustration away (that always works wonders for me). Let it out (just try not to take it out on those around you, okay?). And from there do what you can. Take one tiny step that makes you feel just a little bit better. Yes, even if it means watching TV…
Can you relate to that feeling of anger being “wrong”? Or is that just me? How do you deal with anger when it comes up? Please share your thoughts on this in the comments below. I’d love to hear.