“Don't be afraid to feel as angry or as loving as you can, because when you feel nothing, it's just death.” –Lena Horne

No one would argue if told to “love all you can,” but many would say not to feel “as angry as you can.” We have been so conditioned to believe anger is only a force for pain and destruction — as it is plastered all over the news! Some of us grew up in outwardly angry homes, and others of us grew up in homes where anger was “not allowed,” both a misuse of the natural healthy emotion of anger. Like a loveless life, suppression of anger leads to this “feeling of nothing,” a “death” of its own.

A well known psychologist in the 1970s, Paul Eckman, identified six basic emotions: disgust, surprise, happiness, anger, sadness, and fear. Today, there are ongoing additions, research, discussion, and understanding that emotions are all highly interconnected.

Anger is indeed a natural, healthy emotion, deserving of respect and, dare I say, admiration! The right use of anger is a beautifully powerful force. Anger gives us valuable information. It’s a “red flag” warning us there’s something that needs our attention. Anger creates a driving passion to make changes in our lives in countless areas. It empowers us to stand up for ourselves and others.

In one close relationship of mine, I angrily stood up and declared, “Enough is enough! Everything cannot be MY fault!” I had hoped we would reconcile, instead it ended, and it felt devastating. In time, I have had healing in ways I didn’t even know I needed, which produced empowerment and freedom I never knew before.

After my boy, Micah, passed, in some of the darkest grief moments I began to write. I not only wrote for myself to express my heart, but also for what I witnessed in others. Part was deep anger I felt at how myself and other grieving people were treated by those who didn’t understand grief. It was a way to teach, encourage, and “give voice” (stand up) to this injustice I both felt and witnessed.

Nature itself shows us what lengths an angry animal will go to to protect its young — don’t mess with Mama Bear, right? On a larger scale, there are organizations like Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, MADD. There it is, right in the title: MAD! These Moms got angry! Another beautiful use of anger deserving of respect and admiration. This is barely the tip of the iceberg on healthy and sustainable ways to use this natural emotion of anger.

I’ll share a few lyrics from a favorite song by Rascal Flatts called, Stand:

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you’re made of
You might bend till you break
Cause it’s all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you’ve had enough
You get mad, you get strong
Wipe your hands, shake it off
Then you stand, then you stand

Would you be willing to stand and use anger in healthy and sustainable ways that support yourself and others? If you’ve never thought of respecting and admiring your anger, are you willing to be open to the possibilities of a new perspective? If you choose to, I believe you will be blessed with other beautiful, natural, interconnected emotions like surprise and happiness! Try it and see.

Cheri Thomas

Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.