Motivational Mindsets Part 2: What Is Your Anger Telling You?

Written by Lisa Lewis

Beyond victim mentality, there's another key difference between the people who take action and change their lives, and those who stay stuck in the same circumstances month after month.

People who get mad take action

Anger is one of the quickest and most powerful ways to elicit immediate change from yourself or others. While an uncomfortable and unpleasant emotion, it has an adaptive, survival-based purpose: it's a bodily signal that something needs to be changed.

Anger is often called the emotion of justice: it tends to appear when your beliefs or values have been violated. The presence of anger also indicates a need to release outward and communicate your needs to another person in order to change a situation. 

Anger has a physiological experience component as well. You don't just "think" you're angry, you also feel it. Bodily changes can include elevated heart rate, quickness of breath, increases in blood pressure, clenched jaw, muscle tension, furrowed brow, and more. This is your body's way of physically preparing you to take immediate action. 

"The person who is angry at the right things and toward the right people, and also in the right way, at the right time and for the right length of time is morally praiseworthy." —Aristotle

There are plenty of reasons that anger, instead of being viewed as a vehicle for justice and change, is seen as threatening and harmful. Displays of anger that don't reflect emotional maturity can be either rageful and destructive, or silent and manipulative. Neither of those anger manifestations are desirable or optimally effective at changing your circumstances while preserving the emotional health of those around you.
 
Because of these risk factors, displaying any anger can be seen as a sign of "losing control" or being "overly emotional"—two shaming labels that imply we should limit our emotional spectrum and only externally express the more socially acceptable emotions of happiness, sadness, or fear.

However, internalizing or suppressing anger has harmful negative physical, emotional and mental consequences—and staying in a bad job and angering situation can compound those consequences. 

If you've been feeling dissatisfied in your career, let yourself get mad about it. Find a quiet space where you can be alone. If it feels safe and appropriate to do so, help yourself re-experience the feeling of anger by listening to angry music or reflecting on moments where you've been particularly pissed off.

When you're ready, think about the things that make you really mad about your current job situation. Write down a list of every reason you are angry, frustrated, annoyed, vengeful, or defensive about work. 

Once you have this list, ask yourself how to harness this emotional power and let it out in ways that will be healthy and helpful for you. Is looking at this list the trigger you needed to start looking for a new job? Do items on this list mean that you owe your boss a few pieces of direct feedback that you've never articulated? Are there places you need to stand up for yourself because a coworker treated you disrespectfully?

Pair your mad list with your hero mindset, and challenge yourself to take action to address at least one item from your list today. Your happiness and satisfaction could depend on it.  

Workshop: Crafting Your Career Vision with Lisa Lewis

I'm excited to share that I will be hosting a workshop on Crafting Your Career Vision on Tuesday, February 7 at 3pm ET with the Momentum Community!

In this webinar, I'll walk participants through a sequence of exercises to help them map out the elements of their professional and personal life that are the most motivating, energizing, and inspiring – and use those data points as a springboard to craft a personalized career vision to help them map what’s next. 

To join this workshop, sign up for Momentum! In addition to the Crafting Your Career Vision workshop, you'll also be able to access all of Jenny's courses and workshops, ask Jenny anything in bi-weekly Q&A calls, and connect with other smart, generous, creative people. I'd love for you to join us.

P.S.: See part 1 of this series on motivational mindsets here, and be on the lookout for part 3 in the coming weeks!   


Lisa Lewis is a career coach whose strength is working 1-on-1 with ambitious people in their 20s and 30s to help them clarify and achieve their goals. She is the go-to coach for multi-passionate millennials to help them re-discover, prioritize and honor their values in both work and life. Check out Lisa's video intro and sign up for a Pivot Coaching Jumpstart with Lisa here