Feeling anything but positive has gotten a bad rap lately, yet all emotions send us important messages – if we are open to hearing them.

On a busy day, I decided to take a break at a coffee shop. Despite the unusually long order line, I decided to go for it. Being on a tight schedule, I anxiously counted the moments until I could leave. Balancing a tray with cold and hot beverages I ordered for myself and friends in the crowded cafe wasn’t easy. With only a few more steps away from the exit door, an inattentive man on his cell phone collided with me, causing the tray to crash to the floor. In an instant, my moment of excitement – yes, taking the break and feeling good about getting some coffees for myself and my friends made me feel good – vanished and turned into absolute anger.

My coffee shop visit turned into a fiasco. The floor was a mess, my shoes soggy, clothes stained, and the man responsible remained oblivious, rushing to his car without as much as a glance back.

In that moment, I felt so mad and may have uttered – out loud – a few words I can’t repeat here. A well-meaning woman nearby tried to console me by repeatedly insisting I stay positive. I always try to stay positive and look for the silver lining, but I also know that it’s important to acknowledge all emotions.

Every emotion provides us with an important message, and that’s also the case with anger. What’s hiding beneath anger is usually pain because someone or something has violated one of your values.

In my case, anger mirrored my frustration over wasted time caused by the hiccup (time is something I value), the lack of taking ownership of a mistake (integrity is important to me), and the feeling of disappointment at not having the beverages for my friends (friends and family are huge values for me).

Managing anger involves acknowledging and taking responsibility for feelings rather than blaming others.

Here are some practical steps to shifting out of anger.

Acknowledge and take responsibility for how you are feeling (instead of blaming/shaming someone else’s actions). Center yourself and delay decisions. This opens the possibility to focus on resolution instead of engaging in impulsive reactions. Then ask yourself, what is hiding behind the anger – which one of your values has been violated – and work on that piece instead of lashing out.

In my case, the woman who kept pushing positivity just had me feeling more upset. Who wouldn’t feel upset at what just happened? Through the commotion and the continued stream of people entering and exiting the coffee shop, a barista miraculously appeared out of nowhere and recreated my order. I took some deep breaths, centered myself, looked at the mess that had now spread everywhere, smiled and thought, “At least I don’t have to clean this up

It’s okay to feel bad – just don’t stay there.

Our emotions, including anger, are valuable signals that can guide us towards a better understanding of ourselves and our values. While it’s natural to feel frustrated or upset at times, it’s essential to recognize these emotions and explore the underlying values they signify. By doing so, we can respond more constructively and find ways to address the root causes of our feelings, ultimately leading to a more balanced and positive outlook on life.

Blog post by Nicoletta Pichardo, Navigo Coaching, WBO Member.