Perpetually outraged at injustice? A pivot for better health
The world seems more unfair than ever these days.
Millions of Americans are losing their livelihoods, businesses, homes, and health insurance during the pandemic.
If you’re a woman, a person of color, disabled, in a disadvantaged socioeconomic class, and so on, the world is full of daily reminders of how unfair life is.
And this may be eating at your health.
Righteous anger is vital. It’s a survival trait that brought us things like the end of segregation and women being able to get a credit card.
But it’s a tough line to walk between righteous anger and giving voice to injustice, and becoming prey to the harmful metabolic effects it can cause.
Granted poverty, discrimination, being unfairly targeted by police, routine sexual harassment, and losing your entire life savings because of an illness or injury despite being insured are bad for your health all on their own.
I was bemoaning this dilemma to a friend who asked, “Next time you ask why things are so unfair, is there a new question or thought you could also have?”
I pondered this for days. We create hardwired neural pathways when we repeat thoughts, actions, or behaviors over and over.
Sometimes these pathways are good, like learning a new language. Sometimes they are bad, like trapping us in perpetually negative state that harms our health.
I realized somewhere in the swirling black hole of injustice and despair…at the core of this anger is the belief that, “I am worthy of better.”
Many people struggle with feeling unworthy or undeserving. People with a history of oppression especially struggle with this as they have internalized society’s messaging around their worth over generations. So it’s not something one easily snaps out of.
However, if you are angry because you are experiencing injustice, that’s a sign that deep down you know your value. Rejoice!
I certainly don’t have answers for how to cope with injustices so extreme they leave many of us slack-jawed with incredulity.
But I know for my own health and well being, I need to establish a new neural pathway through this mess in both my external and internal worlds.
And when the swell of rage at life’s unfairness starts to rise up in me, I will acknowledge the pain and the anger, but I will also focus on its origin of knowing I am worthy and deserving of better.
It’s an experiment. If you have figured out a way to improve your own relationship with your anger at injustice, I’d love to hear about it.