Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. Buddha.
You probably think I’ve lost it – Sarah J Webb who prides herself on spreading peace and happiness worldwide is writing about getting angry and seeking revenge? What good could come out of embracing an emotion such as anger and responding out of revenge? And I’m not only talking about getting angry but actively seeking revenge?
Yup … I’m crazy. Or am I?
Holding anger in, or suppressing it – which is basically the same – can be unhealthier and even more detrimental to your long-term health, than to actually get angry and respond. Suppressed anger leads to premature death (ie. by 50 years old), long-term depression, increased risk of heart disease, cancer, accidents and suicide.
Not a lot of us have been taught how to get angry. In fact from a young age it’s an emotion that is often to be neither seen nor heard – in my social circle I’ve found that particularly being female impacts this as you’re almost expected not to get angry. Unfortunately when we swallow anger, we also swallow other emotions along with it – such as fear.
I’m often told of people doing the wrong things by each other. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to my friends, it’s happened to colleagues and I’m almost certain at some stage in your life it would have happened to you. In fact, maybe you’re even the person who does the wrong thing sometimes out of anger. That can happen – we’re all human and sometimes we make mistakes – so long as no one gets hurt. So I’m excited about this week’s blog post because this week I look at how you can get angry and seek healthy revenge.
Have you felt that overwhelming sense of anxiety, where you have so many emotions as a result of someone hurting you that you actually don’t know what to do so you’re trembling in silence and almost suffocating in agony? All you seem to be able to feel is sheer frustration combined with immense pain? You may have also felt fear.
Anger, when we don’t know how to deal with it properly, will often manifest as other emotions. When our anger finally does explode, we will generally overreact to something impulsively, irrationally and also may not have as much control as we would if we’d dealt with our anger at the time we felt angry. By dealing with our anger at the time, rather than keeping it suppressed, we can continue living a harmonious life. This doesn’t mean you can punch people out when they do the wrong thing by you, although it may be tempting, so today we’re going to look at the healthy ways you can express your anger.
First, it’s important to acknowledge the upside to anger according to Dr Gary J. Oliver, “One of the many potentially positive aspects of anger is that it can serve as a very powerful and effective warning system. Healthy anger can help us identify problems and needs and provide us with the energy to do something about them.”
How to express your anger in a healthy way
As I said, it’s best not to go knocking people out every time they wrong you – but it’s almost important to allow yourself to have your feelings and ensure you feel validated in feeling the way you do.
When I first considered the concept of getting angry in a healthy way, it was such a foreign concept to me that I kind of laughed. “I don’t even get angry! I just cry!” It was brought to my attention that those tears were caused by years and years of swallowed and suppressed anger. I had actually had a lot of anger bubbling under the surface but I didn’t know how to let it out so I’d never released it.
One concept I had grasped correctly about anger is that anger is an emotion, not an action. This means you need to express it and in expressing it, you need to figure out a healthy way of doing it – such as seeking “healthy revenge”.
Recognising that you’re angry and dealing with it appropriately won’t hurt you or anyone else. As Dr Gary J. Oliver pointed out, anger can carry messages that act as warnings to us – when we swallow our anger for a long time these loud warning bells start getting dimmed and we start overlooking them and accepting circumstances we don’t like, which links back into my article about cognitive dissonance.
How to express your anger in an acceptable way
There’s no right or wrong rule of thumb here, but let’s set some ground rules and boundaries around this to ensure we’re safe and the people around us are safe as well.
– No one (you or others) should get hurt as a result of your expression of angry (this includes hurting their wellbeing or negatively affecting their life)
– There should be no consequences from your actions and if there are, you need to accept the punishment
– Part of knowing how to get angry properly is knowing how to fight fair – if you get angry and then don’t fight fair then you never actually won that fight, whether you feel better about the outcome or not.
Anger Management classes will obviously identify and establish healthy responses to anger. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re passive aggressive (as the movie may suggest) or that you have issues in over-expressing your anger. A few tips for expressing your anger in an acceptable way may include:
– Assertive communication or waiting until the anger has died down and then communicating
– Acknowledge that you feel angry and validate yourself
– Go for a run and really pound your feet against the pavement
– Smash a pillow onto your bed
– Healthy revenge – which I’m going to tell you more about now.
How to seek healthy revenge
The first thing you need to do is cut the fantasy. Yup, you have to stop fantasising over writing rude words in your neighbour’s lawn with weed killer because their loud partying kept you awake til 3am last night. Stop thinking about slashing your ex’s tires because they cheated on you. Stop thinking about picking up your ex-girlfriend’s sleazy best friend to get back at her. Can you see how these fantasies only make one person look bad at the end of the day? Carry it out and I guarantee the only person who will feel bad will be you. Although I’m sure each fantasy may enable you to express your anger, none of them do anyone any good. In fact, these thoughts waste energy, people’s time and money at the end of the day. Although it may make you feel validated at the time and as though you “won”, none of these things will lead to a positive conclusion. So, instead of bothering with any of that, we’re going to concentrate on how you can really get your anger out and win. The best way to do this is to act for the greater good.
OK, now you’ve quit wasting your time on fantasising and let’s work out how you can actually deal with this anger in a healthy way and then how you can seek healthy revenge.
How do you seek revenge in a healthy way?
Warning: DO NOT SEEK REVENGE WHILE YOU’RE STILL ANGRY! If you’re still angry, keep on with the first part of this blog or see a professional psychologist about how you can deal with your anger. Anger is the strongest emotion that can manipulate our responses, causing us to act irrationally.
Now that you’ve dealt with your anger and released it in a healthy way, you’re in a better position to seek revenge. That’s what the first part of this blog was all about, getting in the best possible position you can so that you can use your anger to seek healthy revenge. OK – we’re going to do is something quite radical now…
Instead of seeking revenge on the people who did us wrong, we’re going to look at how we can use this incident to help other people. So literally we’re taking the pain from the situation and we’re going to turn it into power. This is what I’ve been referring to as healthy revenge. This is the only actual revenge that shows you as a positive and balanced individual that is striving for success rather than hurting others as a result of the pain you are feeling. Your response by taking action this way will speak louder, encourage powerful outcomes and create a positive difference – people can see that you got angry in order to take that action but they, and you, will be grateful for the outcome. A really good example of this is Tom Meagher from Melbourne, who contacted the parole board to change their system in order to enable our justice system to protect other women so they don’t get hurt like his wife did. The value that he has added to our world by using his anger to seek positive revenge is incredible.
Well that sounds great! But how do we know what action to take?
This is similar to how you were fantasising about plotting revenge, but instead of listing negative scenarios, we’re listing positive scenarios that will assist you in moving forward from the event that hurt you and left you angry.
The best, most dignified way to get angry about something that happened to you, is to make something positive from it. It’s just up to you to come up with what action that may be.
Here are a few steps you could take in order to take healthy revenge:
Step one: Give yourself permission to go on a healthy revenge mission. A big part of this will include forgiving yourself for any part in what happened
Step two: Consider the most positive thing you can do with your anger – for example, I started supporting a domestic violence charity that shuns violence against women after my experience with narcissistic abuse. This action was just one step in seeking healthy revenge, but it was certainly the most empowering response I could’ve had to the situation.
Step three: Get creative. If you’re really angry, spread it out and get creative about it. Contact politicians, start your own business based on the event that affected you, write the story and educate as many people about what happened to you as possible (imagine if it went global and you saved thousands of people from going through the same thing), hit the gym and workout to be strong enough to defend yourself in case it happens to you again … the list goes on.
Events are just events until we add perspective to them. Anger is the one emotion that leaves us feeling completely powerless – unless we do something positive with it. Even negative revenge is a temporary fix. Don’t let your anger beat you.
Recommended articles: Anger management techniques
Need more help? I’m a qualified life coach who specialises in regaining your independence and confidence following a failed, toxic or abusive relationship. Contact me.