Last week I was sick. I almost never get sick, but Covid knocked me down for 4 days. So I did something I almost never do.
I watched a couple of shows.
In the daytime.
When I’m all by myself I enjoy watching stand-up comedy.
(I’ll tell you who I watched later…)
It felt decadent. I didn’t have anyone telling me that I had to do anything else or watch anything else. I could quiet the voice in my head saying that I should be working.
I listened to the comedian make jokes about the patriarchy, say things about our society that I wouldn’t dare say out loud, or yell things into a microphone in front of thousands of people that are SO true, but rarely ever talked about.
After a couple of hours of watching, I started thinking about something.
Women aren’t given many healthy messages about expressing anger. Women are criticized for being angry, for frowning, for being bossy or whining or crying, for having a “resting bitch face”. The result of this is that…
Women don’t have many choices when it comes to expressing their anger.
If you are female and NOT a comedian (who can express anger openly on stage), the one socially acceptable choice to express anger is to take it out on yourself in the form of negative self-talk, stuffing it down, self-harm, self-hatred, shame, etc.
Am I wrong here?
I think this should change.
Especially if you are the parent of girls (and female-identifying humans) we need to get better at expressing anger so that we don’t reinforce the message that society gives us… that it’s okay to “rage on yourself”.
So what do we do with our anger?
We do have choices for handling our anger. We can do more than turn anger outward or inward.
I’ll share 4 journal prompts that I’ve used to explore my own anger.
We don’t have to stuff our anger down. We don’t have to shame anger into submission. We don’t have to road rage, yell at our kids, or our spouse, or ourselves. We don’t have to take it out on other people or on ourselves.
During the past few days, as I’ve been thinking about anger, something curious happened.
Have you ever woken up from a dream with an expression in your head that’s wise and funny and really spot on at the same time?
This happens to me sometimes. And it happened this morning.
I woke up with a question in my head, “When does Smaug get to come and play?”
For non-Tolkien fans, Smaug is the dragon antagonist in the Lord of the Rings series.
Dragon = anger.
Maybe we can play with our anger.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for my Smaug to come and play.
Here are the 4 questions for exploring (or playing with) your anger (dragon).
What is the anger trying to say? What part of yourself hasn’t gotten a chance to be heard?
What are the other feelings underneath the anger?
Sadness, frustration, fear, exasperation, disappointment, disillusionment, concern, irritation, or something else?
What is the unmet need underneath the anger?
Is it justice, equity, fairness, consideration, understanding, safety, security, being seen, belonging, being known, connection, communication, or something else?
Where and when can you express this anger fully?
Tell it to a friend, primal scream in the car, make some art about it, exercise it out, sing or play it out in music (crank up the electric guitar, ladies!), rage cleaning, baking (knead some dough?), having a good cry, or punching the pillows.
Let’s have our anger. Own it. Express it. Honor it. Play with it. Use it for good in the world.
And if you also enjoy angry feminist comedy…
Check out Hannah Gatsby in “Nannette” or “Douglas”
If, after reading the blog today, you’re interested in stuff like this WITH me… here’s how you join the Village.
You and I can personally talk in there if you’re struggling to figure out how to talk to your child.