Updated: Jan 21, 2019
A question I have held within myself and one I come across often. “How can I not be angry?”, I just want to be peaceful.
Anger as we know it is bad, it is wrong and should be controlled.
As one of the most problematic emotions it has quite a stigma and anyone who is expressing anger 'needs help'. With the increasing occurrence of such phenomena as road rage, high school shootings, ugly divorce endings, and abuse in relationships—in short, with the prevalence of violence today—the attention given to acting-out, out-of-control anger has grown and becomes even more shunned. The number one threat to peace of mind. Flipside, there is more wisdom and meaning in this specific emotion than before.
Our own anger can be frightening, witnessing an-others anger can be very uncomfortable. Sometimes the rage we feel can lead to self-shaming and guilt of emotional expression, this is very uncomfortable afterwards on top of the anger. Our thinking can get very exaggerated, overly dramatic and loose its sense of logic. We use words like “always” and “never” further offending the person we are angry at, who very well may be a part of the solution our emotions have overridden at that moment. Getting upset stirs up physical responses as well, the heartbeat increases, temperature rises, tension increases, and the body is in an altered state than before getting all worked up. Because anger is so uncomfortable, it's incredibly difficult for us to sit with our feelings––to set aside distractions, mindfully examine our sensations and thoughts, and find out what our anger might be coming from. This is no easy task, literally, when angry our system triggers chemical releases in our brain of empowerment and arousal. I can admit it, feeling angry is 'better' than feeling depressed and sad. Anger gives a false sense of control, even when you are out of control. It is a neuro-chemical way of self-soothing, the ultimate natural analgesic, even a bit addictive. However seductive this emotion may be it is loaded with self-sabotage. It may act as a band-aid to rejection, abandonment, worry. and irritation so that you do not have to look at yourself. We easily run with anger using it as an instantly gratifying remedy to the fact that we are not in control.
Anger is too important to dismiss, too powerful to ignore and can reveal too much depth to us for us to handle at that moment.
What I have found to be extremely important in working through anger is differentiating between anger and frustration.
Instead of being ticked off and then shaming yourself or getting upset that you got upset ask, “Was I actually truly angry or am I actually frustrated or impatient?”
This question separates the incessant need for control and backs off just a tiny bit to be able to see there are options our otherwise angry blindsided eyes miss in an anger tunnel vision.
The image of a person in the middle of a situation who has the desire to get something (a thing, or result, or attention, etc.) and there is a condition which is not giving the person what they are trying to achieve as a result. Hands up in the air, standing there looking at anger, surrounded by others who are also wanting their own preferences. A lot of wanting and for what? What do you want standing there after accepting you can not force control. Yup, it is frustrating, to say the least. Standing there seeing disappointment, hurt and disappointment, desire for revenge, regret and resentment is just frustrating, yet not necessarily true anger. More so, identify the circumstances you are disagreeing with.
First, let's confront the self-sabotage yucky after effect.
After an upset or finding yourself 5 miles down the track feeling unloved and in the wrong direction, le the healing begin when you can apologize to the person who took the hit of your imbalance. Admit when you are wrong, not only for the other person, for the integrity of your own self-awareness and emotional health. No matter how much time has passed, no matter how bad it was, no matter how much you insist you are right there is still an apology as an available option to accept and acknowledging your anger. Being on the receiving end, remember, is uncomfortable as well and while we are not perfectly able to control all triggers, we are 100% capable of polishing up the rough edges afterward and admitting when we are wrong. Letting addictions to places, and things get in the way of this step will be extremely detrimental to the next. Anger is personal and very often is indeed a symptom — it’s the expression of judging another emotion as too painful to address. Underneath needs attention.
Under anger can be a whole stew of motives custom to your lifestyle and personality and level of awareness.
This is your responsibility to identify your own motives as an emotionally mature and responsible adult. What is important here is that ignoring anger will actually lead us into more negative emotions and handling our anger shift to frustration, to impatience, to hopefulness and so on is the first step to confronting and understanding it's balance.
Why I personally have been so afraid of my anger is personal limiting beliefs. I say that generally and you may be inclined to ask what the heck that means. A limiting belief? Something I once believed about myself that I have outgrown and no longer find peace by believing, a past time thought pattern which can no longer withstand the weight of my experiences. As if there was a seed planted years ago that in the blossoming process has a few thoughts in the way and that have to go to continue growing.
What confronting my own anger looks like goes a bit like this:
Simply put, I told myself to not express anger, that I could think it or feel it but not let it out. Life was simple and predictable back then and aggression was re-directed elsewhere (sports) so that temporarily worked fine ... until circumstances changed. The reason behind this concept was to keep those infuriating emotions inside or else angry aggressive people will be attracted into my experiences. I was afraid of getting more of what I did not want in the first place. Which has also been proven incorrect in my world now and I forgive myself for rejecting this part of myself. I have expressed anger openly and often and am met with compassion and empathy for an internal struggle recognized by others. Same goes for children needing a safe place to express not repress. Positivity theories in close relationships are worth less to me than raw vulnerability and intimacy. I never ended up in a room full or pissed off people and interestingly enough only experienced one attack from another person which had nothing to do with me. “Avoiding attracting” and rejecting anger in others is not the same as alchemizing and healing from within.
The Law of Attraction has done a number as far as getting the feel for discernment, accountability, appreciation, expectations, and understanding better my personal desires as different from others. Yet with all that great learning came a new challenge with believing I had control, with boxing off empathy, with extremely unsettling impatience for results. This is more difficult to explain knowing how much positive came from this phase utilizing strategies I will forever keep in my box of tools, even given the intensification of impatience fed anger and my fear of it. The give and take has heightened the importance of owning the motives underneath how I treat people, vs manipulating to get what I want. Confronting anger is not a choice made because I do not want more of it in my life, it is because I want less of it within me. -
Then, bite tongue for the sake of setting an example for family, that healthy relationships involved not arguing. Glory to those who turn a blind eye and overlook that offense. This tactic backfired extremely as a load of resent simmered. The topics that bring about arguments remind us of what is important to us, a great way to get to know someone's passions I say. Now, in fact, I understand healthy, intimate, authentic relationships do have mature and rational arguments where both sides are heard. The saving face did not serve the grace required to strengthen a committed relationship. Only showing sides of yourself which are immediately approved by your spouse or friend is great for many interactions yet when it comes to family I have grown to understand we need to be taught how to argue and not avoid while savoring the image of peace. Arguing does generally involve anger and should not be seen as a threat—rather, it is an event that can help your relationship/friendship evolve and grow and for you to get to know a close relationship partner better. You can also learn about yourself in the process. “Why am I so sensitive to that and what need is not being met?”
All too often I would tell myself the 'happy' people are just good at hiding their anger or they are all using substances to avoid the irritation they must have about what is happening in the world. "They" look happy. Caring more about the image of happiness put a damper on growth as well. Perfectly posed selfies, and only the good all wonderfully presented on all social media added to that nonsense. After making new friends and relating deeply to clients getting to know their lives, I now realize exactly how natural, normal and unavoidable this helpful emotion is. While so many run from it or are hooked on it, none are immune to it or free from it. Anger is less attractive of course, less accepted yes, but none the less important. Our level of happiness is not determined by the ability to reject anger. Happiness is not lack of anger and personal desires it a more maturely developed relationship with our wishes and lack of. Happiness is becoming more efficient and willing to construct anger and frustration with ease. As I thing we shoudl a
The majority of anger upheavals are notably a result of an alteration to our comfort zone, misunderstood powerlessness, and lack of mental flexibility (or tunnel vision).
Some people tobble down towards depression with change (which crazy enough is a more socially acceptable emotion) after anger and some rise up from anger to seeing hope and being accountable for their behaviors. Often times after sobering up, choosing to re-create the comfort zone accommodating to the changes happening around us is easier than getting angry and worth the effort. Apologizing and acting a fool is hard work to recover from, they say,
When our habits change, either by choice or not, we find out exactly how emotionally mature we are. When our lifestyles are effected by unforeseen events we realize how resilient we are. When we confront anger we see exactly how weak and unstable it is.
Please share below with your experience confronting anger, it is bound to assist another to see theirs in a refreshing view. Break it down and the conclusions you have came to. Your knowledge by acquaintance is valuable and plays a major role with the whole of who we are, much more so than this single description above. What works best for you and more so what have you learned from not avoiding your anger?
Point being, you will be happier or more joyful by knowing why you are so mad. Look at it, see it, feel it and conquer it for exactly what it is- a passing emotion. Decide the new way to relate to the madness in a tangible and more dominant way. It no longer runs you when you own it and balance it.
Anger is an emotion asking you to take a deeper look at how you are guiding your life indirectly requesting some changes be made, honor it, transform it.
Be tactful, be as rational as possible, be open to different perspectives and most of all be true to you and your own individual experience with this naggy emotion. Surprisingly enough, the process of understanding anger will lead you to the solutions you seek such for more peace such as: boundaries, stress trigger management and considering your comfort zone as an asset, but that is another story.
By no means does this insinuate anger will forever be gone and overcome at will every time, life happens and always will bring about change. It means no longer being afraid of anger, better managing it, and more effectively listening to it.
We have to pay mind to this emotion for it is a natural part of existing, we have emotions. We address this emotion not only for the of ourselves but for others as well. The thing is, how we treat others lingers longer. The guilt and shame of how we treat others lasts longer than the emotion itself. This effects our relationships. Looking at it does not make it magically disappear and yes we will get angry again, the difference is knowing where the madness comes from so it can be channeled, diverted, healed and transformed instead of bellowing out and doing damage or simmer as a toxic fume. The damage stops when the roots are no longer poisonous as we become quick to listen and slow to speak. Practicing this teaches us compassion for others wrapped up in angers' blindfold, while you may not be able to help someone see, you can get out of the way of their delivery and get quicker at removing your own blinders.
Is emotional discomfort good for you? The answer is an overwhelming yes!
Yet until you learn to mindfully sit with your anger and listen to it, it will continue to make you and others feel uncomfortable and uneasy—and you won't benefit from it and learn from it. What a waste of a perfectly good emotion that would be.
Please show us what you know and have learned or are learning below. What does confronting look like for you? What are the most prevalent limiting beliefs gong on in your mind so full of unique experiences? When I spoke of my story how did it or did it not remind you of your own?
I will at some point. later, after further living this concept write another blog focusing on the principles of the approach anger concept and deliver a practical way for a wider variety to apply it to their own experiences. Religious (which I fully respect), age differences, social and communication skills of all levels peeling back the layers with an applicable, less personal how-to process. More to come on this topic and I imagine I will learn immensely about anger and frustration through my children's teenage years.
PS: I hope you like the photos, as I was skimming the internet from some others I realized these fit the script, gave more insight and are just more fun. Thank You to Travis Cosnetino in the Palm Springs vicinity. I had no idea when taking these photos it would wrap up such a fine point.