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 enoug