Recently, I noticed a license plate in the parking lot of Target.
Got it? What do you think they’re trying to communicate?
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit to you that my first instinct was “I’m Livid.” It took a few minutes for me to get to “I’m Loved.”
And, after realizing my potential mistake, my first thought was “sheesh, maybe I need to go back to church.”
There is much to be livid about in the world around us. Poverty, violence, the increasing divide between political ideologies, and leaders who make decisions based on their own self-interests.
“If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention,” many activists are fond of repeating. And I agree, for so many reasons. I really do.
But anger cannot be permanent; especially not so permanent that you want to memorialize it on a license plate. I’m sure you can all think of people in your life who have made anger a permanent state of being. I know I can. Whether their life has become so out of balance that instead of setting boundaries, they’ve succumbed to anger or their (lack of) grief work has left them stuck in anger. Maybe they hold in the anger and it comes out as bitterness. Or maybe they’re just raging at everyone, all the time. Either way, we all know “those people.”
The truth is I get stuck in anger sometimes, too. Why else would I be seeing “I’m Livid” on a random license plate in the Target parking lot? I don’t always know what to do with that anger either. For right now, I’m starting by simply noticing the signs of anger within my body, much like I’d notice a particularly beautiful moon on a clear night or the way the sun streams into our dining room in the early afternoon.
Anger impacts our brains and bodies, often before we’re fully conscious of what is making us so angry (https://www.nicabm.com/how-anger-affects-the-brain-and-body-infographic/). I notice the ache in my shoulder blades and the irritability that creeps in for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on. I notice when my jaw hurts in the morning— maybe I’ve been clenching my teeth all night? Then I journal or go to a yoga class or sit in silence for a few minutes. Anger is a normal response, the more I ignore it the more it grows. When I honor and give it space, it moves through me a lot more quickly.
Kelsey Hart is a Celtic Way Contributor.
Read more about Kelsey Here