Big Idea: Anger can be a signpost that something needs to be addressed.
Last week, I started out with this line: “Think about the last time you felt angry - that sudden, intense feeling that made you want to do something big.” I then went on to talk about how anger is part of the fear response.
This week, let’s take it from a different angle. What about the time when your anger made you want to do something small? A news program made you change the channel, your friend said something that made you disagree with them (hopefully in a constructive manner, perhaps with an “I” statement :)?
This week, I was listening to an interesting podcast where Gabor Maté was talking about ‘healthy anger’ and how women are more likely to have autoimmune disease because our society teaches them to suppress their healthy anger.
According to Dr. Maté, healthy anger is simply a boundary defense (start at about 16:00), and we share that circuitry in our brains with all mammals.
Think about your mammalian pets for a minute. What happens when they get angry? They react (re-establish a boundary) and then move on. Why don’t we do this more often? What is it about being human that gives us the ability to a) react to a situation with more anger than necessary to re-establish our boundary, and then b) hold on to that anger in ways that don’t ultimately positively serve our wellbeing (grudges, revenge, etc.) ?
This week, try this: The trick here is the pause between feeling the anger and reacting with your anger’s energy. This is where we can bring in our humanity, because our pets can’t do this. The next time you feel anger, pause - even for the space of an inhale - before you react. If it’s healthy anger, let ‘er rip so your boundaries remain defended. If it’s based on fear, or it’s too big, think of another strategy. And then, do your very best to move on.
Quote of the Week: "Anger can be a sign that something that matters to you is being threatened. Listen. Pause. Respond. Move on." ~Matt Weld
Educator Resource: Would You Rather…? (School Edition) - Most people have played this game before, and it’s probably NOT been school appropriate. Here are a list of questions that you can ask anyone. Give it a boost by having people move to either side of the room depending on their answer.
Dad Joke: I'm not a fan of elevator music. It's bad on so many levels.
Keep your head up!
Matt Weld, Area 5 SEL Coach
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SEL Coach Matt Weld creates and delivers in-person and online SEL-related content.