Louis’s shock turns to disbelief and anger
The world caved in on Louis when his girlfriend of three years ditched him, complaining he was ‘too needy!’ Louis had been the devoted boyfriend and caretaker. He did whatever she asked no matter what the cost to him. He cut out his friends and family. He stopped playing sports and dropped out of college. When the shock of his rude dismissal from the relationship hit him, he went through a period of disbelief and then he became angry.
Getting zero return on his relationship investment made Louis furious
Louis had given her his undivided attention, and anticipated her every need. He lost himself in the relationship and was furious that his investment had failed. Louis despondently recalled his fitness routine in the gym and on the basketball court. He remembered the exhilaration of Marshall arts and the fun he had winding down with his mates. He thought of the ease with which he sailed through high school math and science. He could have done a lot with his talents and energy. By rights he ought to be on a stimulating career path, earning good money. But at the age of 26 he was penniless, jobless and rooming with a relative. He was overweight, out of shape and despondent.
The anger of wasted potential jump started Louis’s recovery
Anger washed over the sad and sorry parts of Louis. He hated feeling beaten and hung out to dry. It reminded him of the times his mother scolded him for not doing his homework right the first time. He relived the sting of his teachers calling him lazy, and other students mocking him with jealousy when he got straight ‘A’ grades without studying. Louis felt the taste of his wasted potential as his rage kicked him in the gut. He couldn’t sleep, eat or enjoy hanging out with friends. Louis decided to rediscover his old self and bring it up to speed.
Louis used anger as his power tool to rebuild his self-esteem
Louis developed a daily routine at the gym. He found his way back into a basketball team and practiced hard. It made him feel strong and on fire. He focused his attention on getting his body toned up with a good diet. He slept better and woke refreshed ready to explore his abilities. He enrolled in college and took a full set of classes to make up for the wasted years. He found himself to be sharp, able to concentrate and achieve grades he was proud of.
There are many resources in Max’s tool box to use anger productively
What does research tell us about anger and achievement?
In 2007 a study outlined in the Journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin indicated that anger is often helpful in thinking through a problem in a more rational and analytical manner. Louis used his anger exactly in this way. He had been blinded by the relationship and fear of loss. Anger at being dumped made him think more clearly and rationally about his needs and he set about putting his own house in order.
A 2008 study reported in the Journal of Psychological Science suggests that anger is beneficial when people have to perform confrontational tasks. Anger improved performance on tasks that involved ‘beating an enemy.’ Louis had many internal enemies. Louis had to confront the fact that he had been rejected. He had to confront the loss of self-esteem, self-respect and his part in losing himself in a one-way relationship.
Ten ways Louis used anger to build himself up and succeed.
1. Anger lit the fire of personal control and power
2. Anger propelled Louis to focus on himself- his present and his future.
3. Anger at being dumped made Louis decide to zoom in on his dormant strengths and skills.
4. Anger helped Louis to shut out distractions and focus his energy and intelligence to take charge of his life.
5. Anger made Louis determined to feel capable and accomplished.
6. Anger pushed Louis to test himself and feel the pride of success.
7. Anger directed Louis to put himself through his paces, reaching new heights.
8. Anger allowed Louis to come back fighting, performing better and ever.
9. Anger took Louis from a sense of defeat and loss to triumph and gain.
10. Anger drove Louis to overcome the humiliation of being dumped and find multiple reasons to think and believe well of himself.
We have all seen athletes and opposing teams whether political or commercial ‘psyche’ themselves up with anger in order to ‘win.’ Louis’s case is an example of using anger to win the internal battles with yourself against your own blind spots.
You might also like Five ways to use angry energy to empower yourself
Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you have while reading it or implementing any of the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.