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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Anger Is Not a Solution

Apr 01, 2024 06:00AM ● By Trish Ahjel Roberts
It was a sunny day in the spring of 1985, and I was furious. In the Brooklyn brownstone where I grew up, I searched my bedroom for something to throw. My eyes settled on a clear plastic bottle of lemon body oil. It looked satisfying. That would do it. I grabbed the bottle and hurled it against the wall, but instead of bouncing off and landing gently on my bed, the bottle broke, and lemon oil splattered everywhere. I felt like an idiot. I was going to have to clean up that mess. That was the last time I threw anything in anger—at least anything breakable.

When I was a teenager, I was angry, confused and sometimes suicidal. I was a #metoo survivor from the age of eight, long before the movement. In those days, there was very little conversation about sexual assault, and survivors like me were left to figure things out on our own, even if we were only children. I took the well-worn route of rebellion. If the adults in my life couldn’t help me, I would have to help myself. I took the path of many kids with trauma—partying, drinking, smoking and cutting classes. I couldn’t see the value in my life if the people I loved the most couldn’t seem to see my pain. I was angry with my parents. Angry with society. And, particularly, angry with men.

Over time, the wounds healed, but not without doing damage. I lost time that I couldn’t get back. I made decisions from a place of brokenness that changed the trajectory of my life. I used to wonder who I would have been without the childhood trauma I endured. As I went through my healing journey, first with books and therapy and then with yoga and Buddhism, I mourned the loss of that innocent little girl. I cried for her. Then, I finally let her go.

As I got older, I realized that trauma did more than just hurt me. As the poet Rumi said, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” Experiencing trauma made me more compassionate, resilient and knowing than I would have been if I’d simply studied the traumas of other people. It helped me become the gifted healer I am today.

When I read Oprah Winfrey’s book, What Happened to You?, I came across the term “post traumatic wisdom” for the first time. Ahhhh, I thought. That’s it! A perfect term to describe what happens when you successfully heal from trauma—you end up with a unique, somatic wisdom that runs from your heart and extends to every corner of your body. It’s not the same as thinking you know something. It’s a profound insight that allows you to hold space for people in need because you know the brutality of trauma, its legs and its reach.

I’ll never forget when my favorite pastor said, “Have you ever met someone who doesn’t understand anything because they’ve never been through anything?” Wow. It stopped me in my tracks. At the time, it made me think of my sister decades before we would become estranged. She never seemed to understand much. It was as if her wounds either didn’t exist or they were so deeply scarred, they didn’t let in any of Rumi’s “light.”

I learned early in life that my anger was destructive. It broke things. It caused messes. It was a placeholder but not a healer. It took decades before I realized that my anger never helped me. It made me feel falsely empowered when I was at my most vulnerable. It led me down dangerous paths.

To heal from trauma and process my disappointments, annoyances, frustrations, jealousy, impatience, guilt and resentment, I learned to slow down. To breathe. To use my imagination and empathy. And to seek solutions and constructive actions. I learned to transform my anger and, instead of living in guilt, shame and pain, I’ve found healing for myself and for the many lives I touch through my work. Anger is not a solution. It’s an emotional reaction that should be thoughtfully and artfully transformed to positive action. ❧
Trish Ahjel Roberts is a transformational coach, inspirational speaker and author of the new book, The Anger Myth: Understanding and Overcoming the Mental Habits That Steal Your Joy, published by Rowman and Littlefield. Learn more at
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