Why You Should Be Mad
Johnny’s a nice guy.
He helps his friends on busy days, calls his grandma daily, and gives gifts to his coworkers on their birthdays.
No one has ever seen Johnny mad.
But deep down Johnny holds an unbearable amount of frustration.
When he was young, Johnny’s parents told him that good kids don’t get angry.
What that meant to little Johnny was that angry kids don’t get love.
When he would get upset he would hear, “Don’t be so emotional.”
So, he shut down his needs.
This worked for a while.
People loved nice Johnny.
But as he got older his gut started to hurt. The pain wouldn’t go away.
He went to get it checked out. It was an ulcer. But Johnny was healthy. He ate organic food, worked out daily, had a loving wife and great friends. How could this possibly happen?
What Johnny didn’t realize was that his illness was likely due to his suppressed anger and his ignored needs.
As a society, we shun anger. We are taught to take deep breaths instead of uttering a word. We avoid conflict at all costs.
To an extent, these things are good. Respect is essential for a good life and a functioning society.
But kindness can become harmful if taken too far. Being overly positive is paradoxically negative.
In his book When The Body Says No renowned physician Gabor Maté explains that his patients with cancer, ALS, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis all had the same characteristics. They avoided asking for help, were admired by everyone around them, never got mad, always stayed positive, and worried about other people even while they themselves were the most sick.
Like Johnny, they suppressed their needs in favor of receiving love.
If you’ve been Mr. or Mrs. Nice all of your life, don’t worry. I was too. So was Gabor Maté. So are billions of other people.
The key to healing isn’t to suddenly go around screaming at everyone.
To lash out in rage is just as unhealthy as holding it in.
Instead, the answer is healthy anger.
Healthy anger means saying no, setting boundaries, listening to your needs and standing up for them.
Maté says that once people do this, their bodies stop attacking themselves. They release long-held tension and have a better chance at recovery.
If you’ve lived all of your life like Johnny, there’s no better time than now to begin standing up for yourself.
It will be uncomfortable at first. But like with any practice, it will get easier with time.
And soon, you’ll feel it.
The tension release. The lightness of being.
The unconstrained awesomeness of being a human.
Song I’m Jamming To: Rollercoaster by Full Crate (what a jam!!)
Photo: Booked a solo getaway at an Airbnb in the mountains of Puerto Rico to finish the first draft of the book. Here’s me at breakfast this morning enjoying the simple perfection of apples, peanut butter and a great view :)