Let us get the obvious stated upfront; what an absolute roller coaster of emotion the past year has been for everyone. Over this past year we, collectively, have had to deal with feeling cut off socially from friends and family, stalled career growth or lost work, missed life milestones such as birthdays or weddings, and even the fear of seeing those closest to us suffer or lose their life due to contracting COVID-19. Frustration, anxiety, sadness, and anger are a few of the most common experiences we have heard from our clients.
Although we need to continue to exercise caution and utilize protective measures to reduce the spread of the virus and reduce the likelihood of mutation of possible variants, things are beginning to look like there is light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccine supply is becoming more consistent and widespread, with more and more people gaining protection from disease. Yet there still seems to be a constant sentiment regarding all of this; a sense of anger at having to have gone through all of this. Not just anger, but not feeling good about being angry and not wanting to feel it.
This is understandable, who wants to feel angry? What is less understandable for most is understanding anger, what it is and what it can tell us. See, anger in and of itself is not a “bad” thing. It is normal. Of course, I am going to feel it (among a number of other emotions) that people close to me have and are suffering as a result of the pandemic. I am upset that some of my own personal milestones have been postponed or put off indefinitely. This does not discount or invalidate feeling grateful for the good that has come to us or safety that has been maintained during the pandemic as well.
As Tamsen Firestone points out, anger is a natural emotion to situations that cause us anger. Where it becomes destructive is in how we react to it, whether that is taking it out on ourselves or taking it out on others. She explains, “Anger is an emotion that most people misperceive and have learned very little about. For one thing, anger is not a negative emotion. Some people regard it as bad or immoral and feel that becoming angry makes them a bad person…But it is not bad or mean to be angry. Angry feelings are neither right nor wrong.” To me, this leads to two questions 1.) what is your anger trying to tell you? 2.) how would you like to constructively experience your anger?
If you would like help or extra support processing the last year, feel free to contact us.