That makes me angry!!
We are taught that anger is an emotion to be feared and avoided; that we must hold it in and avoid provoking it in other people. Sometimes we are taught it’s makes us or someone else looks silly. We are taught that anger is bad. Well I don’t think it is.
Anger is a really healthy and valid emotion, and one it’s important to make peace with because suppressed anger manifests in other ways, from anxiety, depression, self harm, addiction, eating disorders and many other psychopathologies. The avoidance and dismissal of anger is incredibly unhealthy, so it’s REALLY important to get in touch with our own anger, and understand what anger in other people provokes in us.
Apart from the damage internalised anger can do to our mental health, there’s another very good reason too.
Anger is often used by abusers to manipulate and control people into doing things they want them to do. Anger is used to provoke fear in others allowing the abuser to maintain a position of authority and dominance.
Anger is used by bullies in the same way.
Anger is set up to be a very powerful emotion, whereas, in fact, it’s not much different from any other emotion. One of the difficulties with anger is that we fear what we might do when angry, when the red mist comes down, we can’t control ourselves, and that seems scary. What if I told you that anger issues come from suppressing anger? That I believe that people who lose control in anger are doing so because they haven’t processed a root cause to their anger and so project it elsewhere and everywhere they see a trigger.
So how do we make peace with anger (oooo I love an oxymoron!)
Think back to when you were little. What happened in your family when you got angry? How did they react? Did they embrace it? Did they say they understood why you were so angry? Or did they dismiss it, looking at you as silly, mocking you, telling you you had no right to be angry?
When we understand the family narrative around an emotion we can start reframing it to a place we want it to be, and make friends with it.
The first thing to remember about anger that it is always a mask for another emotion. It is a defence emotion that helps us in survival mode to fight flight or freeze (or any of the other ‘f’s’).
So when we are trying to make friends with anger, we have to look carefully underneath it to see what’s actually going on.
Think back to a time you got angry. Perhaps you were overlooked for a promotion that you had been working really hard towards and now you’re angry that you haven’t got it. Why are you angry? Because it’s unfair? Because you’ve worked so hard? Or because it’s a rejection, and rejection hurts? Because it’s embarrassing to have been turned down and all your colleagues know? Because it feels shameful and humiliating to be left where you are and someone else chosen above you? (Which is ultimately rejection)
Once you know those feelings, you can start looking at them. How do you experience justice? Or more importantly, rejection?
If you are the opposite and find it difficult to connect with anger, try thinking about where anger sits in your body, and if it moves or grows as it gets stronger.
If you’re creative, try drawing it, give it a shape, colour, texture, size. If you don’t want to draw, describe it in writing. Tell the story of your anger and how you feel about being angry.
Find power in your anger. Not in a way to dominate or control, but in a healthy appropriate place where your anger helps you find your true feelings, and helps you set boundaries with others, because after all, it’s all about the boundaries!
I would love to hear your thoughts on this,