Not too long ago I was talking to a young person about managing anger and suggested he experiment with what it would be like to be grateful for his anger and other so-called negative emotions. I told him that considering this concept when he’s calm might help him learn how to control these emotions when they occur.
Since then, in my work with children, I started promoting a concept I call the “anger drill.” The concept is just like a fire drill you do at school or places of business. You practice, or as I like to say you “train your brain,” to know what to do when there isn’t a fire so you are best prepared to do the right thing in the event there is a fire.
In an anger drill you are training your brain when you’re not angry, which is when it’s most receptive to learning, of course, to know how to not make behavior mistakes when you are angry. And since we all get angry at times (most of us will probably never be in a real fire), it’s very useful to set yourself up for success.
Extending this idea, accepting your full self has to do with respecting your rougher sides which includes offering yourself some self-compassion when you’re angry, as an example.
Being human affords us a wide range of emotions. Learning how to celebrate all of them in an appropriate manner helps us appreciate our feelings. Or as Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen noted in her brilliant book “Kitchen Table Wisdom” —
“The part in us that feels suffering is the same as the part that feels joy.”
In other words, it helps to remember that coins have two sides.