Confessions from my coaching conversation on the One Insight podcast with my coach Rich Litvin.
I realised I was seven years of age, when I began harnessing anger. What most angered me back then? The way that I perceived my father treated me, which was very different than my sister and my brother. What was happening when I felt angry was that I felt powerless. I was definitely powerless at times. You know no one’s stronger than your dad, when you’re a little kid. My environment also wasn’t always safe, there was violence all around and I was in a hyper state of alert at all times.
That same anger sometimes washes over me today, a strong man comes into my world and says this has to happen, this is the way it is. And I’m not just feeling powerless, but also a sense of inequity. This isn’t fair. And it’s true it most certainly doesn’t feel fair even now. All of these years later, what angers me the most is when something happens and someone’s talking to me about something where I feel powerless and a sense of inequity, it’s not fair, and I also feel the same way when I see what is happening to young girls in the world today.
It goes back such a long way. Anger helped me back then when I was young, anger was a big part of my life, I grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. The benefit to little Michelle back then, was that she did the best she could to stay safe. And being angry back then was a way to stay safe. Anger kept me safe by seeming like I was an aggressive person. So the more aggressive I could seem, in my environment, the more likely I was to not have the kind of problems that I would normally have. My coach points out that, for a seven-year-old to catch that, that’s actually really smart. It was probably very intuitive. It wasn’t thought out intellectually, but very smart. And little Michelle kept me safe.
“Because here you are, in 2021, a successful woman that has made an impact in the world who’s continuing to make a difference. What she did back then, Michelle was keep you safe. And the trouble is, any habit we pick up as a youngster that can have all sorts of benefits to us in later life at some point we pay a price for and that’s what you’re feeling right now. It’s the cost of that. Because you don’t want to feel that feeling any longer.”
The truth is I haven’t wanted to feel it for a long time. So here’s a real reframe to play with for a moment. What if anger was actually a compass for you? It was like a little bell warning? At that moment, that was the insight. That felt really good to me, I liked that. A compass, a warning bell that my boundaries are being broken, that can serve me.
You see when someone’s in a place of insight, we don’t have to dig deep as a coach and turn it into a 19 step plan. They got their insight and they’re there. One of the ways to help women ask for what they want is to have them tap into the mama bear effect. I realised that what I was talking about, is a healthy version of anger. This is when you can channel it in a really healthy way. Channel it for a cause. I’m not going to do it for myself, sometimes that can be hard for anyone. I’m here for a cause, and I will do what it takes.
I had two big insights from the conversation. What I was harnessing was a healthy amount of anger, when I felt I needed to protect myself and the biggest thing for me was the alarm bell, using that anger as the alarm bell. I no longer view anger as a problem or unhealthy, I now see that I can have access to healthy anger, when it can be used, like in the mama bear effect, to channel to make a real difference and that changes everything for me.
I hope this helps you see that we all have anger at a certain point because we are human and we have lived experiences where anger kept us safe. I have learned I can harness anger in a healthy way, to keep myself safe, and to make a difference. And I know you can too.