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what to do with anger

Jun 6, 2024

I was recently working with a leader of color who was really struggling with his motivation.

He was going to work and doing his job (because he, like all of us, was well trained by the capitalist machine) but outside of work, he couldn’t get himself to do much of anything at all.

He thought it was because he was struggling with some sadness over being mistreated at work…

…but when we really dug into what he was experiencing, we realized that right underneath his surface level sadness, he was really fucking mad.

 

He was mad that: 

😡 his hard work wasn’t being respected or seen.

😡 he was being gaslit by his manager around the value of his work.

😡 he felt like he was being targeted as a person of color within the organization, and had no recourse

My client had been raised to believe that anger wasn’t productive, and could be unsafe to express if he wanted to maintain his job, so he did what most people do. 

He pushed down his anger and only allowed himself to feel a more socially acceptable feeling: sadness.

I unfortunately know you relate to this because almost every leader I work with for 1:1 coaching has had to navigate a similar situation at some point.

As a leader of color, you live in a world where you are questioned, challenged, dismissed, and gaslit more than your white counterparts, but you learned from an early age that you aren’t allowed to feel angry about it.

 

It can be a challenge for you to:

👉🏿 overcome cultural messaging that taught you as a child that it was disrespectful and grateful to get angry or “talk back” to authority figures and elders

👉🏿 feel safe expressing anger, because you don’t want to be labeled as a scary or angry Black or brown person

👉🏿 really feel angry, because you feel like it’s not “productive” or it’s unsafe

So, instead of doing anything with your anger, like my client, you just try to get over it, or move past it.

Here’s the problem with that:

Pushing down your anger, without giving it an outlet, doesn’t lead to you feeling better.

It actually leads to more stress, anxiety, and sadness.

See, your anger isn’t actually counterproductive or unsafe.

It’s the opposite: it’s a really healthy reaction (your fight response!) coming online to say that whatever happened was not okay.

Your anger is a sign that your boundaries have been violated – and it’s your body’s way of protecting you from having that happen again.

So when you push down that anger, it can create more emotional distress, because your nervous system feels like, without that anger, it’s unprotected from future harm.

I’m not saying that you should go out in these streets and curse out everyone who pisses you off (unless you want to!)

What I am, saying, however is this:

You have to find safe, productive outlets to express your anger, so that it stops having such a strong grip on your emotional world, and stops poisoning you from the inside out.

It’s a tricky process, that takes time, experimentation, and practice – but when you find the right outlet to finally express and process your anger, it’ll change the game for you.

My 1:1 clients consistently express that they feel more internal peace, and actually find themselves getting upset less often, because instead of waiting for the anger to build up, when they feel a glimmer of it, they deal with it in the moment so that it doesn’t overwhelm them later.

Want to find your unique path to releasing uncomfortable emotions like anger, anxiety, and sadness?

If so, you should schedule a time to discuss 1:1 coaching with me.

During our free, sixty minute call, we’ll discuss what challenges you’re facing as a leader and person of color, and what changes I feel like you need to make in order to achieve your goals.

If it feels like a fit, we’ll discuss what working together could look like.

If it doesn’t, I’ll send you out into the world to find your own way.

If you’re ready to finally feel better, it’d be my honor to have a call with you.

You deserve to feel peace, no matter what bullshit the world throws at you.

It’s possible, I promise.

xx,

Gieselle

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