My superpower

by Jonah

I have a superpower.

I only discovered it recently, though it turns out it had been there all along.

And for the longest time I thought it was my greatest weakness.

I was continually chastised for it.  I fought to suppress it.  I sought counseling and read books on the subject.

My greatest weakness is anger.

I’m angry all the time.  Even when I am relaxed, joking around, having a good time… I’m still angry.  I’m angry at carelessness and waste.  I’m angry about inefficiency and injustice.  I’m angry because of inattention and cruelty.

A turning point in my journey (and my life) was reading Make Anger Your Ally by clinical psychologist Neil Clark Warren.  Anger, he explains, is a natural internal response that prepares us to cope with hurtful, frustrating and fearful experiences. Anger is a physical state of readiness. When we are angry, we are prepared to act.

Of course, my first reaction when I’m acutely angry is to slam doors, kick a hole through a wall, or burn a building down.  And without developed self-control, I would be completely destructive and do all of those things.

But I’ve learned I can channel this force.  This is why I make phone calls to the mayor’s office and leave voicemails while stopped at unnecessarily long traffic lights.  This is why I write letters to airlines demanding partial refunds.  This is why I attend my neighborhood’s special water district board meetings when we haven’t had any water for three weekends in a row. And all those things got fixed.

And I get to use my superpower at work.  I work at a law firm that helps injured workers get the medical treatment they need and the lost wages they’ve missed.  I get to use my superpower making phone calls, writing nasty letters, drafting snarky court motions.

Anger isn’t wrong.  It isn’t a sin.  The Bible says God gets angry.  The Apostle Paul says not to let the sun go down on your anger.  But that’s good advice.  Anger gives you immediate energy to get things done.  Do the constructive thing you can while you’re still angry.  Don’t wait until tomorrow if you can.

I’ve learned to embrace my anger.  I still slip up sometimes, especially when I’m very tired.  But I’ve learned that, when I feel that rage starting to explode, I should look around to see what I can do in that moment to act to fix the problem that’s making me angry.  And then I do it with an energy that I would never normally have.

My superpower is anger.

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