Anger is almost always portrayed as a negative emotion; something to be worked on, to be avoided with calming techniques and herbal teas. And often this is the approach required.
However, I have found when dealing with pain that many people bury their anger, seeing it as something to be ashamed of, to apologise for. They internalise the anger and turn it on themselves, often expressing a feeling of hatred towards themselves and a sense of worthlessness. When we use anger in a different way, as the fourth step of Kicking Pain in the “As” our anger can become a great asset.
I get angry. Angry that my constant pain prevents me from doing things I love. Things like hugging, walking the dog, playing my violin, going shopping in town…..That anger could become so destructive, if I let it. So, instead, I take that anger and I use it as a positive energy to allow me to do more.
Here’s an example: I have played the violin since the age of four. I got to be pretty good. I was going to make it my career. However, by the age of 16 my right shoulder had dislocated so many times that it had to be bolted in place and my choice of career had to be re-thought. I headed for a professional kitchen to train as a chef, my second greatest love. Who knew that hours on my feet would cause my ankles to swell to this size of footballs and my hips to start 12 months of constant dislocation?
This was getting monotonous, but I could still continue these two precious activities as hobbies; making music and food for pleasure could certainly bring joy to my world.
Now, thanks to my latest challenge – CRPS – I can no longer play my fiddle or spend more than 20 minutes preparing food. Am I angry? You had better believe it! What am I doing with that Anger? I’m focussing it on the condition, not on myself. I have conversations with my CRPS (as I have done with my EDS for most of my life) in which I let it know I’m angry. I tell it how it makes me feel and that it’s not welcome in my world. I do this out loud and often wonder what people would think if they could hear me (it makes me giggle)!
I also notice my Anger. When we are conscious of our emotions we take responsibility for them more easily. By owning my Anger, saying “look at me, being angry today” I can make a decision about what to do with that. Too often I hear people say “I said something awful to my partner in anger” as if they can pass off the responsibility – “I was in Anger mode so it’s not my fault.”
When I feel Anger, I consciously ask myself “So, what’s that all about? Why am I angry? What am I going to do with this energy?” I give myself a choice to use it positively and nine times out of ten, I’ll take it.
The final and key step for me in using my Anger in a positive way is to be real about it. It’s okay to be angry about the thing that is causing you pain (be that emotional or physical). Don’t berate yourself for feeling Anger. You are not a super-human and behaving as one is often simply a cover, a disguise. I allow myself to say “I’m Angry!” (and trust me, there are some choice, un-repeatable words to go with that) I allow myself to acknowledge I have good reason to be miffed! Acknowledge that Anger and give it some breathing space in a safe place.
The top of a mountain is the place I pretend to be when I’m letting it out (just do check the neighbours are out if you’re doing it at home!) and I let rip for a good 10 minutes at least once a week. It’s cleansing. It’s healing. So today, take that Anger and address it head-on. Welcome it to your world and acknowledge its’ existence is your responsibility. Nurture it and allow it to be what it is and use it, as it uses you, to create energy and choices, ones that allow you to be positive and prepared to keep kicking pain in the “As”.
Here’s to a pain free day Dinah x