How Anger Serves Us

Some time ago, I watched the amazing Ted Talk by JP Sears “Saying YES! to your weirdness” and it sums up a lot of what we strive for: uniqueness and authenticity. Be uniquely you because no one else can, is something that we hear quite frequently. My concern, however, is that we haven’t really been set up that way.

I think we can all say, we know how to be happy or that we know what happy looks like. That we strive towards it and we turn happiness into fond memories that all new experiences are held to. It’s actually quite easy to pinpoint those moments and freely talk about them.

However, when it comes to living authentically – we do need to consider what to do with all the times we are not proud to show off. For example: anger, despair, frustration, sadness, impatience. What do these look like when we talk about being ourselves or living authentically? Unfortunately, I think, we are really good at sweeping these under the carpet without truly embracing what they mean for us.

What would happen if we accepted our ego, our anger, and sadness as part of who we are? What if we attended those learning moments with grace and acceptance?

Listen, no one loves a well-placed F-Bomb more than me. When said with perfect tone, clarity, and pitch, something in me shifts and just settles a little. It is a powerful tool for me.

I have learned to accept the anger in that moment, as part of what makes me who I am. I don’t beat myself up over it, after all, shit happens. But, because of the outburst and my acceptance of it- I am able to adjust, get pointed in the right direction, and move forward with a sense of calm. In fact, my reaction is quickly adjusted and replaced with a next move that actually serves rather than takes. Had I ignored or held on to the anger I was feeling, I am sure it could have easily turned into resentment. Now, I learn something about myself: the reaction was for nothing, what example am I setting for kids, was I wrong, etc.

Some things become part of who we are and live with us forever.

The acceptance of your anger helps fuel who you are, it is part of you just as much as happiness, love, and yes, grief too. All of these are an important part of the definition of who you are. Ask anyone who has had a major life breakthrough. It more often than not is the result of something hard they had to work through. Ignoring painful things stops growth and covering them with saccharine is the worst thing we can do! I think we have all heard “this too shall pass” or “it gets easier every day”. Honestly, it’s all bullshit. Some things, never pass or get easier. What they can do, however, is be our teachers. Some things become part of who we are and live with us forever. They make us strong, vulnerable, and brave. This is what is unique about you

I’ve ranted on the #behappy mindlessness that we are seeing on Instagram and Facebook. It’s time to stand up for Pain, Anger, Ego, Grief, and Sadness. These are tools that help develop who you are and to understand more about your authenticity and uniqueness, accepting these as part of your makeup is one of the bravest things you can do.


Sarah Hines
Sarah Hines
I met a man one blurry night in Manhattan, and little did I know, he would be the soil in which my passion for grief work was to be planted. He had been rejected by his family for his life choices and was preparing for death without them. Helping him through his struggle to come to terms with his love for them and in turn his forgiveness while going through treatments, rejection, and coming to terms with his own death and grief was an unimaginable amount of stress and it literally set me in activism mode. It was shortly after his death, I completed training in Palliative Care Home Hospice. I volunteered in men’s homes for 5 years before the medications became reliable and being gay wasn’t always breaking family ties. Some of the most amazing times I have had in my life have been in the homes of dying. Strange, yes.. but so beautifully honest and raw. I then completed the Children’s Palliative Care Training and dove into the heartbrokenness of dying children. It is in these years I really came to understand just how fickle death can be and how much we embrace death and our grief. It seems that in times of what we would consider the most unimaginable, we are able to find glimmers of beauty, cracks of light and the nourishment in tears. Over the last 20 years, I have carried on with my education in a variety of ways including Coach and Leadership Training, Orphan Wisdom School and Grief Groups. My connection into corporate grief has been slow. It’s something that most organizations do not want to think about. I am inspired by those that see value in bringing grief work into the way they lead teams through uncertainty and the trust this work builds.

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  1. Great piece, Sarah. I can say for myself that I always try to see the glass as “half-full,” but I’m not obsessed with being positive and happy all the time.
    Feeling frustrated, angry, and sad is normal, and there’s no need to suppress those feelings. I don’t use the f-words but have other ways to express my emotions. 🙂

    I rant on the online ‘happiness coaching’ growing trend. I stopped believing everything I read on social media a long time ago. 🙂

  2. I love every part of this, Sarah. Not that I love engaging with grief, and sadness, hurt, fear, and anger.

    Our difficult feelings teaches so much about what is important.

    Anger teaches me what is important to me – and when I ignore what is important to me and disappoint myself by not walking the talk. (That is when I get really angry with somebody stepping on my values. If I live my values, I don’t explode – it is easier to engage when there are not too much dirt under the rug.)

    Hurt tells me about my boundaries and when somebody crosses them. It makes me reexamine my expectations (and perhaps I can then become better at voicing them so others have an easier time not disappointing me going forward?)

    Grief tells me that I have lost something that mattered. It can be a person. But it can also be a dream, an idea, or an ideal. Can I adjust my dream/idea/ideal?

    I’ll only know if I stay curious and engage with the difficult feelings.