Anger is a gift

I went out with someone recently who said, “I’m not angry” and said it a couple times when talking about their family, and I thought, “Oh you are definitely angry”

And when the subject came up again, they admitted they were angry, but they didn’t want to be angry, because they felt anger was a negative emotion.

What if there are actually a ton of emotions BENEATH anger and you have no idea? An Anger iceberg if you will?

Anger iceberg, with different emotions underneath it. Anger is a gift!

What if there was no such thing as an emotion it wasn’t ok to feel?

What if emotions are innocent?

What if emotions are the way you get information about your inner world?

What if what you do with emotions is the problem?

Have you ever met a ragemonster?

A ragemonster is someone who is always angry. And they take their anger out on other people.

One of the ways we think anger is a problem is because we’ve had ragemonsters in our lives.

And that’s normal, to feel like anger leads to rage, and rage leads to abuse, and no one wants that.

But that’s not really where anger has to go.

Anger can be channeled into making that world you want. It absolutely has for me.

feelings or emotions wheel, a rainbow wheel with feelings ranging from sad to happy and nuanced to other feelings. This is why anger is a gift.
The feelings wheel

Let me tell you a story.

I went to high school with a guy named Josh who kept saying Anger is a gift, it was his catchphrase, and I didn’t really understand it until later.

I went through life trying not to be angry. But it didn’t work. I was angry a lot.

Angry at the nonprofit system that chewed people up and spit them out.

Angry that so many workers I knew couldn’t seem to make end meet

Angry that our planet was on fire and no one seemed to care.

And then I made a whole business out of my anger.

It fueled me to make hundreds of posts on my blog.

It fueled me to write books, create surveys and share the data on how people were still getting screwed over.

And it fueled me to passionately present about workers’ rights.

WHY is anger a gift?

Because it’s your self esteem asserting itself.

Imagine if you never got angry.

How would you have the energy to say what was right or wrong for you?

You would stay in bad situations for years.

You would wish to change things, but it would feel like it was just too hard.

Anger pushes you forward.

Anger makes you drive towards change.

And that’s what I want for us.

I want us to get our student loans forgiven in a debt jubilee every few years.

I want us to have universal basic income.

I want us to have rent control. 

I want workers to have unions and workplaces that support us instead of drain us. 

I want us to have a world where we have true equity. I don’t know what that looks like yet. It is gonna take a lot of creativity to get there.

Desiree Adaway says, Two things you can do when destruction is all around you: Love and Create. Anger is a gift!

What makes you angry?

What’s the world you want to create?

Dominance, as bell hooks says, is part of white supremacy. We think that we have to rise and be dominant. But what if we didn’t?

What if there’s a way to have a world without the abuse of power, abuse of anger, and abuse inherent in dominance?

What if that world is there, just waiting for us to imagine it? 

Here’s an angry song I like,


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This year I got angry at how conferences are created, and I decided to make a conference that was different.

One of the ways I had to question how conferences are created is by questioning dominance.

Questioning how I had to be in charge.

What if I didn’t have to be in charge?

So this time I’m not. I’m collaborating. I’m asking other organizations to collaborate.

I’m asking why we think dominance is good. I’m asking us to look at systems of power. I’m asking us to change our structures, so we can have more equity.

You want equity in your organization?

You want to question systems of power too? 

Let’s work together.

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