How often do you let pain or anger change you?

Today is April 21 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you let pain or anger change you?” Learning to navigate the chaos and practicing the art of living well will invariably challenge your ability to manage your emotions, deal with pain, and control your anger. People, events, and situations will come across your path daily. How you react to each will determine your navigation efforts.


Today’s Navigate the Chaos post involves asking reflection questions based on observations of pain and anger from three different people. Doing so may involve a bit more time than the usual five minutes involved with each Navigate the Chaos post but navigating the chaos and practicing the art of living well sometimes involves a deeper dive inside of ourselves. Doing so helps us shine a light on those darker places we may miss in our daily reflection.


The first reflection today comes from American singer and songwriter Johnny Cash who said: “There's no way around grief and loss: you can dodge all you want, but sooner or later you just have to go into it, through it, and, hopefully, come out the other side. The world you find there will never be the same as the world you left.”

  • How often do you go into grief and loss?

  • When you have experienced grief and loss how long did you avoid going into it?

  • How did such avoidance impact your ability to navigate the chaos and practice the art of living well?

  • Did you allow pain or anger to change you?

  • Did you realize how the pain or anger was changing you?

  • When you went into the grief and loss and came out the other side, did you understand that the world you found would never be the same as the world you life?

Today’s second reflection on pain and anger comes from poet Nikita Gill who wrote:


“Pain changes people. This is no secret. But your pain speaks with wisdom. When you are a child, the same pain teaches you to not touch fire by burning your fingers. When you grow older the fire turns into people. Your pain will teach you how to be careful, but it will also teach you how to be compassionate to others, be kind to those who are hurting and how to be strong in the face of adversity. Allow your pain the power to change you in a positive, beautiful way.”

  • Have you witness how pain changes people?

  • Did you touch fire as a child and learn now to do it again?

  • Have you learned not to engage with those who ignite your pain and anger?

  • Have you allowed pain to teach you how to be compassionate to others?

  • Have you let your pain and anger serve as a reminder to be kind to those who are hurting?

The third component of today’s reflection comes from the 2005 American romantic comedy and drama film The Upside of Anger. Evan Rachel Wood’s character had to process pain and anger and wrote:


“Anger and resentment can stop you in your tracks. It can change you, turn you, mold you and shape you into something you are not. The only upside to anger, then is the person you become…hopefully the person you become is someone who wakes up one day and realizes they're not afraid to take the journey…and that anger leaves a new chance at acceptance, and the promise of calm in its wake.”

  • How often has anger or resentment stopped you in your tracks?

  • How often have you allowed anger or resentment to stop you in your tracks?

  • Did you allow anger to mold you into something you are not?

  • Did you ever possess the self-awareness to take the journey, remain open to acceptance of life on the upside of anger, and believe in the promise of calm in its wake?

The questions stemming from today’s three references may be difficult to process at one time. These are challenging thoughts to process. Some of these questions may even stir up more emotions than you are ready to deal with at this time. But these questions also offer a reminder that navigating the chaos and practicing the art of living well requires a great deal of work. Translating one dream after another into reality demands more from us with each passing day. Experiencing pain and anger is a natural part of the human experience. The more you can increase your self-awareness to understand how pain and anger change you, the better your chances of navigating the chaos and practicing the art of living well.