• Puja Dada

Embracing Anger

Anger is typically defined as a strong feeling of displeasure, hostility or aggression. Many of us fear it, within us and within others. Anger is, however a useful and positive emotion. Anger warns us, as humans, that something is wrong and needs to change. Anger is the human response to being threatened. Something of ours is at risk. Perhaps, our feelings were not considered; we were not treated in a just manner; our space and time was not respected. Anger drives us to demand accountability.

So imagine, if you have not been taught to express anger in any form, as it often happens with women. Anger in women is more often than not, seen as madness or hormonal or losing control. When I visualise a woman losing her temper, she is shrieking and wild. One fears her madness, her unpredictability. The narrative tells us that it is not “feminine” to be angry. A narrative that is so deeply ingrained within our collective subconscious, that it even exists in women. Girls are frequently discouraged from even recognising their own anger, from talking about negative feelings or being demanding in ways that focus on their needs. Suppressed, repressed, diverted and ignored anger will find other ways of showing itself. How many women cry when angry because we have held it in for so long? How many others discover that anger turned inward is depression?

“Society shuns angry women, convincing them that their rage is impolite, unattractive or even unhealthy.” Rebecca Traister

The first step is to gain awareness that it is ok to feel angry. Anger means that something isn’t right. Anger arises to address challenges to what you value. Anger is a signal that we are feeling violated, that the boundary of self has been breached without our consent. When your anger arises, ask yourself what is being devalued and what important boundary has been overstepped or violated. Something that is important to you has been dismissed.

Remember, I mentioned that anger drives us to demand accountability.

Thus, the next step would be to ask for accountability both from yourself and others. What must you stop doing and what do you need others to know to hold them accountable?

This is scary for women. Even if we do “lose it”, many of us do not know how to hold others accountable. And that is why our anger goes wild and we just end up in tears as we are overwhelmed by what we need (courage) to change what we have in front of us. As I mentioned, we have been discouraged from demanding anything for our needs. Thus, we may not even know what our needs are, what boundaries were crossed without our consent and why are we even angry. I write all this, so you understand that it is not easy to feel or understand our anger. It is so deep but feel it and remain curious. Things will start getting clearer.

Anger awakens you to your values, beliefs, boundaries and needs. For women, this is such an important tool to discover our voice.

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