I get tired of New Age gurus preaching that I shouldn’t be angry. The fact is, sometimes I am angry. I am angry when people I trust betray me. I am angry when people make promises they don’t keep. I am angry when people treat me with disrespect.

Anger was not considered a “nice” emotion in my birth family. My mother rarely expressed it. Neither did my father. There were exceptions.

When I was three years old, my mother and I were standing on the sidewalk along Roosevelt Boulevard, a multi-lane highway in Northeast Philadelphia. Suddenly, I jerked my hand away from my mother’s grip and darted out onto the highway. My mother was terrified and furious. Her only daughter, in whom she had invested so much time, energy, care, and love, was stupidly going to kill herself. Had I killed myself, I would simultaneously have killed much of the meaning in my mother’s life. She ran after me, dragged me back to the sidewalk, and vehemently spanked me. I deserved that spanking. It quickly taught me not to run in front of cars.

When I first became a divorcee and new attorney working 80 hours a week, I was also the mother of a rebellious teenage son. One day, when my parents were visiting, my son began angrily swearing in front of his grandfather. My father chased him right up the stairs to his room. That kind of disrespectful behavior was not acceptable in our household.

I have always rebelled against arrogant dictators. As a ninth grade student and editor of the school newspaper, I wrote an editorial upholding freedom of speech. The newspaper adviser didn’t like it. She rewrote my article, toned it down, appended my name, and told me why it was wrong.

As a model student, I rarely confronted a teacher. This time, I was outraged. “You wrote it,” I blurted out. “You sign your name to it.”

I now know that anger is a wonderful messenger. It is vital that I listen to it with respect and decipher the message it is bringing me. While the message is partly about what someone else is doing, the real message is for me. How am I going to respond so that it doesn’t happen again? If I ignore the message, telling myself I “shouldn’t” be angry, I will be out of integrity and enabling injustice, disrespect, and lack of accountability.

When I was practicing law, I worked for a client whose home was damaged by fire. Her mortgage company lost the insurance proceeds check. She called, left messages, and sat in limbo, her calls unanswered. When she did get through, the company transferred her from one employee to another with no resolution of the problem. They were wasting my client’s time, energy and money.

My client could not repair her house without the insurance money. She was paying rent elsewhere. After a year of trying to resolve the problem, she wrongly, but understandably, stopped making mortgage payments.

The mortgage company immediately began foreclosure. My client was never served with the summons and complaint. By the time she came for legal help, her home was scheduled for Sheriff’s Sale. Because she had never been served, she didn’t even know about the Sheriff’s Sale. She was aghast!

I called the attorney for the mortgage company, requested his cooperation in postponing the Sheriff’s Sale, and asked him to provide me with documentation so we could get the insurance check reissued, the property repaired, and the mortgage paid. Although he promised to speak with the mortgage company, he didn’t postpone the Sheriff’s Sale, didn’t provide the requested documentation, didn’t answer my follow-up letters, and refused to accept my phone calls. I was furious!

In New Jersey, an owner of property being foreclosed is allowed two automatic postponements of a Sheriff’s Sale. I requested one and immediately filed a Motion to Vacate Final Judgment. I enjoyed letting my outrage show. My courtesy had accomplished nothing. My anger got the opposing attorney’s attention.

At 5 p.m. on the day before the court hearing, he called to tell me his client had consented to vacate the judgment, would provide the requested documentation, and would cooperate in getting the property repaired so my client could move back in.

I could have chosen to stuff my outrage over the treatment my client and I received. I could have chosen to “radiate a bright light outward” toward the mortgage company and its attorney, but I doubt that action would have stopped the Sheriff’s Sale, saved my client’s home, and transformed the attitudes of the mortgage company and its attorney. By listening to my anger and taking appropriate action, their attitudes changed from “Don’t bother me” to “Of course, we’ll work with you.”

Do listen to your anger, then respond appropriately.

Author's Bio: 

Janet Smith Warfield works with wisdom-seekers who want understanding and clarity so they can live peaceful, powerful, prosperous lives. Through her unique combination of holistic, creative, right-brain transformational experiences, and 22 years of rigorous, left-brain law practice, she has learned how to sculpt words in atypical ways to shift her listeners into experiences beyond words, transforming turmoil into inner peace.

Her Amazon Best Selling book, Shift: Change Your Words, Change Your World, won the 2008 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Best New Age Non-Fiction and was a Finalist in the Self-Help and Spirituality categories. Shift has been translated into Bulgarian, Russian, Indonesian, and Slovakian, and is being distributed throughout the world. Janet’s website, www.wordsculptures.com, won the Coalition of Visionary Resources 2008 Best Website Award. Her articles, “Freedom from Fear” and “Awareness and Choice”, were included in J. Kim Wright’s American Bar Association Best-Selling Book, Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law. Her article, “Searching for Healing? Pay Attention to Your Words,” will be included in Michele Rosenthal’s upcoming book The PTSD Journey: Perspectives on Healing. Janet is one of fifty writers included in Danielle Hampson and Don McCauley’s 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading.

For more information about Janet, to read her blog, or listen to her media interviews, go to: