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A Blurb From Bruce

The Creative Side of Anger



Anger is one of the great emotional equalizers.  Chances are you’ve felt it; acted on it; regretted it, or even denied it.  It is estimated that one out of every 10 persons’ experience anger and, additionally, have troubling controlling it.  Anger can cause some serious issues, if not channeled in an appropriate and timely manner.  It has been said that anger is only one, prefixed letter away from DANGER – and putting ourselves in harm’s way, is no good.  Perhaps it is because of this, that anger gets such a bad rap; simply because we associate it as something bad, wrong or dangerous.  Like many things in life, it can really swing either way; used for better or for worse.  I propose that there is a healthy and creative side to anger; and if guided correctly, can be a significant game changer in any applicable situation.

Diane Cameron, a New York based columnist and author (among many other things) muses on the words of Bessel van der Kolk – emotions have a function; they effect movement – they make us jump, run or act.  Anger, being an emotion, is capable of just that; it can affect our movement.  It would be unwise to assume that anger is automatically going to “effect movement negatively” or “significantly limits movement”; it only affects movement, which means that we have full control over it.  Instead of wasting all that energy in small, “safe” doses, channel it – all of it – to creativity.  Be proactive; not lethargically passive-aggressive.  Assert your anger and make it come alive.  Embrace anger; let it be the fuel that throttles and moves you to your next big moment.

The slow release of anger in sanctuary safe zones provides for eventual relief but very rarely helps us to accomplish anything note-worthy.  It is like going around a corner in a car and only making small adjustments – sooner or later you’ll be in the wrong lane – and in a much great predicament.  Creative anger helps us to focus on what needs to happen to maximize the next step to get there efficiently, and often, sooner.

Let’s put this into a clinical context and reality.  As a flight paramedic, the last five missions you have flown have all been IFT / ICU patient transfers.  On every single flight, the ventilator keeps auto-triggering, despite the maxed-out sensitivity, causing you some issues with ventilation and patient care.  On each return to base, you politely fill out an incident / equipment report and then get ready for the next flight.  Let’s evaluate the emotional process: passive approach, makes you feel “kinda’ good” because you reported it.  Now, let’s look at outcome: no change – there will literally be no immediate change, and you are highly likely to experience the issue again, on the next flight.  How might creative anger help with this?  Well, let’s say on your final return to base, you stop by your manager’s office and talk to them about the issues you were having in flight.  Your conversation concludes with permission to construct and scribe a proposal detailing the problem and offering a resolution (new ventilator…!! J).  Paired with a timeline, this has potential to turn the issue around!  Evaluating again, the emotional process: total pro-action, you feel empowered and engaged.  The outcome: change is well on its way to becoming a reality.  Consequentially, you’ll have more appropriate equipment, leading to an improvement in patient care; and eventual job satisfaction.

It would be disheartening if this were to be mistaken as overt permission to become angry AND take it out on anyone and anything that we find in close proximity, in a way that is destructive and deconditioning.  Not at all.  Quite the opposite.  In fact, I recommend that you “Get Mad [and then] Get Glad”!!

Be well and stay safe out there!!




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Klint Kloepping Comments

Bruce makes many valid points regarding a lesser talked about emotion, anger.  It is true that people focus a lot of time and energy on the emotion in a negative way, perhaps.  This article sheds light on something that I feel is needed in the world today.  It almost brings a Star Wars like feel to the conversation.  When we think about the force and how it can be used for both good and evil, anger is the same.  Master Yoda says,” fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to the dark side.”  This is very much true of anger in our society as we know it today.  Anger can be channeled in such a way that it may actually be used for good.  There is a cautionary side to that coin.  There is a delicate balance between anger used for good and anger being channeled in a bad way.  If you are unsure where you stand on that spectrum, ask a trusted colleague or friend.  They should be able to tell you where you stand on that spectrum.  Anger is one of the emotions that I have used in my personal life.  Being able to channel anger to get things accomplished or to achieve a goal is the best part of anger.  If you don’t know how to channel your anger properly, ask a professional counselor or someone recommended by employee assistance at your service.  The point is, we all have some anger that comes up within us.  How you channel that into something useful is a choice I leave to you.


Mike Verkest’s Comments

I think Aristotle said it best:


 “Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.”

I have had my share of and displays of emotion. What I have found is that anger, is a clever little devil. Oh yes, it can disguise itself and come across in ways you may not recognize (or intend).  For me, when I get scared, it comes across as anger.  When I see my wife climbing up a 10-foot ladder which is precariously perched, I come across angrily! She says, “why are you yelling at me?” I have to catch myself, apologize and check my emotion. I don’t want her thinking I am mad at her, I just don’t want her to fall and end up a trauma entry! I guess that’s the other thing about anger…you may not perceive yourself as angry at all, but the others around you? Ya, you are a raging lunatic. Just check yourself and as Klint mentioned, find a mentor or someone to talk to. I’m sure it will be uncomfortable, but there is no growth in the comfort zone.

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