The Gift of Anger

Anger is a Key to Unlock a More Meaningful Life

Life feels meaningful when we are deeply engaged in purposeful action that is aligned with our personal values. When we step back from such action, we find value in our lives even if we are not experiencing the feeling of meaningfulness. 

Knowing our values isn’t always as simple as circling a few items on a list of values. For one thing, the list may not have a clear articulation of your values or it may have too many words to be manageable. This list, for instance, has 400 items and suggests you choose the 10 you value most. Most people will tune out long before they read to the end of the list.

For most of us, our values are internalized and so fundamental to our lives that we do not articulate them. We simply respond to the world from them. Our values feed into our emotion reactions and judgments about the people and events around us

Becoming consciously aware of our values allows us to make more meaningful choices in our lives.

One way to become conscious of our values is to notice what makes us angry. Anger is often a response to having one of our values dishonoured. Cultivate curiosity about your anger. Use whatever self-reflection techniques you prefer to find out into what value is being trampled on or ignored.

Anger has an energy you can harness for acting in service of your values. 

The challenge with anger is to learn to be with it and learn from it before acting out. When we act reactively from anger, we often inadvertently disregard other values we hold. When we learn to listen to anger as a cue to act in service of a dishonoured value, we develop our capacity to choose how to use the energy of anger in service of all of our values, not just one.

Like any other emotion, anger is not good or bad. It just is. Choosing wisely how to act when anger has shown up is a skill that can be practiced.

The first step is to become curious about anger. When you get angry, ask yourself “What value of mine is not being honoured in this situation?”