A Mindfulness Practice for Allowing Anger without Being Consumed by It
If you’ve been feeling angry lately, then you’ve been paying attention. Just the term “unprecedented times” has been enough to piss me off these last few years. While we seem to be moving past the worst of the pandemic in some parts of the world, it isn’t over and the ripple effects on the economy, the workforce, our relationships, and mental health will be felt for a long time to come. A global pandemic, though, is only one of many major issues facing humanity. War, climate change, and widespread political divides and unrest plague the globe. This is, unfortunately, a shortlist of our problems. There are many more, too many to list here, and we’ve each been impacted in some form or fashion.
Many of us have also been driven to anger, even rage, over the problems of the world. Some people have acted out this anger in ways that cause more harm. Most of us keep it to ourselves. Maybe we rant and rave to friends, drink a little too much, or try to burn through it with work, exercise, or other distractions. We may not act out our anger in ways that are harmful to others, but over time feeling angry can have a corrosive effect and eventually be harmful to our health and well-being.
We may not act out our anger in ways that are harmful to others, but over time feeling angry can have a corrosive effect and eventually be harmful to our health and well-being.
Anger is also useful. It tells us when there’s been an injustice, a boundary has been breached, or harm has been done. In some traditions, righteous anger is viewed as noble. Righteous anger is characterized as an appropriate response to injustice. For example, feeling anger towards a leader who orders the murder of innocent people for political gain is righteous. Feeling anger towards leaders who pass laws that are harmful to marginalized and vulnerable populations is righteous. Feeling angry when you learn of harm done to a child is righteous. Anger in response to not getting your way or because someone made a decision you don’t like or holds beliefs different from your own is not righteous. It’s easy to see the difference here.