Half way through the spin class, music blaring and everyone peddling at full speed, our leader James yells, “I AM SO ANGRY!” Everyone laughs. I’m not sure if James was really angry or just making a joke, but if he was angry, he was dealing with it in healthy way.
In the navigating the masculine journey, dealing with anger is one of the most challenging aspects of a man’s growth, especially for those who experienced unhealthy doses of it in childhood. It can be scary to ‘go there’ and few people, it seems, are really good at dealing with it.
Yet, as difficult as it can be, anger and its more extreme form, rage, must be confronted and worked through. Unresolved anger in a family, between spouses, parents and children causes serious breaks in family unity and often leads to the disintegration of the sense of self and well-being among its members. In corporations, community groups, volunteer organizations, etc., unresolved anger leads to losses of productivity, job loss, high rates of absenteeism, and attrition. As we know, unresolved anger leads to health problems and, taken to its extreme, can lead to violence among peoples and nations.
Yes, anger is a powerful emotion, and, naturally, many men – everyone for that matter – can find it a challenging emotion to deal with. Because of its devastating effects on ourselves, our families, and communities, it behooves us to understand the genesis of this powerful and universally experienced emotion.
Understood properly and dealt with maturely, anger is a source of protection, self discovery, and healthy creativity. Channeled properly, anger can be used to create new beginnings, pierce through problems, and stop injustice. Healthy explorations of anger and its root causes can lead to solutions and new understandings of ourselves and others. But when handled inappropriately, as it so often is, anger often leads to levels of self destruction, the crippling of communities, and untold suffering.
Dealing with anger is not easy work, but if a man is to find healing, he must find the courage to deal with it. Over the next month, we’ll take a look at anger, where it comes from and how men can use anger to find health and well-being for themselves and others.