You go to bed feeling like you’re getting back into the groove of life. Maybe you finally even went to bed on time. You wake up ready to face the day ahead, glance at your phone, and BOOM.
Yet another once-in-a-lifetime event is happening: COVID. Another person of color killed by police. Riots. Disastrous elections. Insurrection. War. Trans rights taken away. And now, women’s rights taken away.
It’s all. Too. Much. And it can make us angry. When we show our anger, we will likely hear from some people, “Don’t get so angry!” Some people might tell you to “think positive,” “chill out,” or know something good will come from it all.
Anger makes people uncomfortable. It feels scary, and that’s understandable — because when people do scary things, it’s often out of anger.
But anger doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it comes from seeing what’s wrong and wanting to make it right, whether it’s danger, injustice, or disrespect.
Scientifically, if we are angry about injustices, our brain is working. The amygdala is the part of the brain that identifies threats, and it reacts even before the cortex, which is the part of the brain in charge of judgment. When the amygdala responds, it sends out adrenaline, which can propel us to action. Anger is what has made every wrong in our history into a right.
It’s very normal to also feel sad, anxious, pissed off, or scared. For the last few years, the blows just keep coming. Just when things are settling down, something else happens. It’s crazy out there!
The therapist in me says to take care of yourself and be gentle with yourself. The human, activist, and social worker in me says to fight like hell. So how can you do both?
How to Manage Anger
First, just notice your feelings and let them be. Second, get active. In whatever way that means to you. Talk to your family, or to your kids, reading them stories about kindness and activism. Post on social media, write letters, or fly across the country and join a revolution! Taking action is the only thing that creates change.
Many leaders have said the same, in different words:
• “Don’t boo, vote.” (Barack Obama)
• “Speak up, speak out, get in the way. Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.” (John Lewis)
• “If you’re not trying to make something better then as far as I can tell you are just in the way.” (Ani Difranco)
And yes, while you’re doing all of those things, take care of yourself. Even if it feels cheesy or cliche, self-care is a revolutionary act. Doing yoga, high fiving yourself in the mirror, meditating, journaling, and just centering ourselves, is empowering.
When we’re empowered, we can empower others, and that’s how the world is truly changed. I highly recommend checking out Eff This Meditation, or the book Eff This Meditation, which is described as “Spiritual meditation and self love done differently.”
If it seems all too much … go to bed tonight, get up tomorrow, do your best to practice self-love and mindfulness, and then make an action plan. Whether you’re a parent, a youth, or a single senior, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a part-time employee, you CAN change the world. So let’s go do it.