Anyone who is a fan of the Star Wars movies is well familiar with Yoda’s teachings. Perhaps one of the best-known teachings is, “anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” In short, anger is supposed to be a shortcut to the dark side. But it turns out Yoda was wrong. Anger can lead to being a better person.
In actuality, as the awesome folks over at GoodTherapy point out, anger has a lot of benefits and can even make you a better person. This is because anger, like all emotions, serves a good purpose, and can help us understand ourselves better.
And this is actually something I have been struggling to work through in my current therapy sessions. Feeling anger tells you when a boundary is crossed, either by you or by someone else. The benefit of anger is that, if we can listen to it and control it instead of letting it control us, we can repair the broken boundaries, learn something new about ourselves, and grow into better humans.
My problem is that I never learned how to manage my anger, instead learning to repress it as a maladaptive way of dealing with it. Unfortunately for me, repressed feelings don’t go away, they just become our own inner darkness. In my case, some of my anger mutated into the depression I feel today.
Yet the good news is that it is never too late to, as Yoda again tells us, “unlearn what you have learned.”
For me, that means unlearning the stereotypes I used to justify repressing the anger in the first place. It means that feeling anger, even expressing anger, is a normal human emotion. Rather than pushing people away from me, understanding my anger and expressing it in a safe and healthy way will educate others about where my boundaries are, which will in turn allow me to have deeper and more authentic relationships.
And I suspect that I am not the only one who struggles with mishandling my anger. So if you are on that same path, stop worrying that it will lead to the dark side. Instead, recognize it as an opportunity to better understand yourself.
Happy Friday, everyone.