When I was going through the foster care system I remember hearing all the time; “you have to stop being angry” or “it’s not right for you to be angry”. As a child I tried to accept what everyone was telling me but it didn’t help. I was 9 years old, separated from my alcoholic-drug addicted mother and my alcoholic-abusive step-father and thrown around between 10 foster homes in a three year period; yes I was angry and rightfully so.
To have these adults tell me to stop being angry actually perpetuated the angry cycle. As the joke goes the worst thing you can tell a woman is to “calm down”, the same could be said for a child that is going through the foster care system, and it has the opposite effect.
I did not realize until I became a motivational speaker and started sharing my story with others that what we should be telling children is “It is okay to be angry, but put that anger to good use”. I have learned that anger is a great motivator when focused on something good, it helps to stay focused, it keeps one determined to not give up. It is an “I’ll show you” mentality. Once I made this realization and started spreading it with others, I have had children, parents, case workers and guidance counselors thank me for explaining what to do with anger as the children have just had it bottled up because no one said it is okay to release the anger (in a positive way) so it just keeps festering and festering to the point they explode.
When I was a child I never knew that was my mentality, I just knew I wasn’t going to become my parents, I had a fire in my to prove everyone wrong and I truly believe part of that came from people always telling me to stop being angry, it was almost as if they were saying “just accept what has happened”.
I have always been a believer that everything happens for a reason and it wasn’t until decided to share my story and help those who are in the same shoes that their pain does have a purpose that I learned all along that is why I went through what I did.
So don’t tell someone to stop being angry, tell them to focus that anger on something good, prove the world wrong!