Yeah to Anger and Jealousy

9 Jul

This article is part of the series “31 blogs in 31 days” during July 2017 on howtofab.com.

(This article is also being written in an airport lounge. The relevance of that fact will become clear in a bit…)

Have you ever been so frustrated you wanted to pull your hair out, smash something against the wall, scream so loud the house would break down? Have you ever been filled with rage so hot and flaming you thought you were going to combust?

Have you ever tasted the sour and bitter taste of cold jealousy? Felt something rise up inside your body, filling your veins all the way into your finger tips? Crawling up your spine and twisting inside your stomach?

Yes? Good.

Anger and Jealousy aren’t usually the most popular emotions. They are part of the Bad Vibes Group, a pretty bad-ass gang. Nobody really likes to have them, nobody really likes to see them in somebody else, yet every now and then, even the most zen-like person gets a visit from A or J.

Anger isn’t Wrath. Wrath is extreme anger with the will to hurt, punish or destroy something or somebody.  It’s one of the deadly sins and it’s sometimes called “anger turned in on itself”. It’s blind and without control. Anger however (and I love this definition), is commonly understood as “the gift from God that allows us to recognise and respond when we feel we have witnessed – or been the victim of – an injustice”. Its message is at least “hey, something isn’t right here and I am not ok with it”. It shows us our emotional, moral, physical boundaries and it creates a lot of energy. Energy that can be used for Good.

While it usually comes with something negative, anger has the ability to make us feel utterly alive. Without it, we’d all be walking around like numb lemmings. Anger is one of the most human experiences – anybody who has ever spent a day with a 2-year old will have seen it in its purest manifestations. When it gets released, it has a truly cleansing functionality. Sadly, as adults, releasing anger often doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves. We are conditioned to swallow it whenever we can. Bulls%/t to that, I say!

(At this point in time, just as we are about to board, my flight is being cancelled. 150 people first look in disbelief at the poor messenger, the ground staff guy, and then start to yell at him very, very angrily. I notice that I myself am not feeling angry at all. Annoyed, but not angry, and I am wondering whether I should not be more angry right now – am I a numb lemming? – but then decide to invest my energy rather into planning my next steps. I am heading towards the taxi stand to take me to the train station….45 mins later I am on a train and I continue writing….)

Releasing built-up angry energy can be great. Especially when combined with shouting it can help clarify our anger – putting this forceful emotion into words makes it very clear to us and others, why we are so upset. Which boundary got crossed. The feeling of me-ness is usually very strong in such a hyper-aware moment. And that’s a very healthy experience. I’d argue that many people suffer from frustration, sadness, lack of energy, lack of purpose not because of a concrete situation, but mostly in moments when life is simply “meh”, when everything is lukewarm, watered-down vanilla(ish). Anger can get you out of that lifeless state and bring back some excitement. Anger can be hard to accept and embrace and many of us feel extremely inhibited about allowing and showing it. But being able to harness it, to really feel and release it – that’s a very powerful moment that definitely puts spice and heat in your vanilla.

Jealousy, the other one. Jealousy really doesn’t feel nice at all. It’s toxic and bah and it can be hard to see it as anything but bad.  But just like anger shows us what we don’t agree with, where our boundaries lie, where it’s more NO than YES, jealousy points to something really important. It points to what you want, your core desires.

Being jealous of somebody for having something you don’t have – of course that makes you feel bad. But if you manage to take a tiny step to the side and spend a few moments thinking about what you are specifically jealous about, you may learn a thing or two about yourself. Something that may inform your future actions. Spending time with a happy couple, when you are single against your will or you are in an unhappy relationship, can be a super frustrating experience. Seeing your colleague buy yet another new car can make you sick to the stomach and can make you scream to the heavens “I want a new car too!”. You can then start to sulk and retreat yourself into a state of life-is-unfair-thinking, or you can go into the pain and see if there is a message for you.

Jealousy is a mirror – it reflects your most private wishes and desires. It shows you what you don’t seem to have, and it shows you what you really, really want. That’s useful information. If you can point to one or two specific things that you can see in that happy couple, that can and should inform your own behaviour. If you realise that you don’t really want a new car, but you want recognition, see how you can get that too – in a different way.

We can’t be everything. We are individuals, so boundaries are important. They set us apart, they give us form. Sometimes we need a little anger to see where our boundaries lie.

We all compare ourselves to others. Feelings of jealousy aren’t rare and aren’t bad. But it’s not about the other person and what they have. It’s about you and what you want.

Picture: Pixabay / CC0

 

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