Anger – What is your anger trying to tell you?

Was anger an emotion allowed expression in your family, and if not, do you have access to that part of you that may feel angry at times?

Or was anger so present that it was being acted out in everyday life in destructive ways?

Maybe you are acting out of anger all the time.

We collectively need to find a new perspective on anger and recognise its importance in accessing the breadth of your emotional wellbeing, but also to allow its expression in healthy respectful ways.   

“Anger is a signal, and one worth listening to” Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.

The first step in gaining a new perspective is to recognise when you are angry. When you feel the fire of anger rising within you, take pause, do not act out of your anger, but try to clarify the anger.

 Ask yourself: why am I angry? Become clearer. What is your anger trying to tell you?

Are you being hurt?
Are your rights being violated?
               
Is there something you are not attending to in your life?
               
Are you doing something which is compromising your value and beliefs?
               
Are you giving too much?
               
Are others doing too much for you?
               
Are you agreeing to situations which are unjust?
               
Are you feeling like you have no choice and have no power in relationships?
               
Do you deny your needs in favour of your partners?

Are you really angry at yourself?
I will ask that one again, are you really angry at yourself for allowing the situation you now find
yourself in.

Anger in and of itself is an important emotion, its intent is a positive and protective one. Denying anger is to deny yourself.

“Our anger can motivate us to say “no” to the ways in which we are defined by others and ”yes” to the dictates of our inner self”  Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.

What do we do with our anger?

Expressing anger to another can be non-productive and even hurtful, especially if the aim is to change another person. The likely result is defensiveness, and more anger.

If on the other hand you put all your energy into pre-empting how another person may react should you express your anger, you therefore withhold from what you want or need in favour of harmony. Anger grows inside you until you explode, or get sick. You move further away from yourself every time you allow yourself to move away from what you want under pressure from another.

Or if you just let others have a piece of your anger in a destructive way, then guilt usually quickly follows.    

So is there an alternative?

Instead focus your energy on being able to make a clear and succinct statement declaring how you think and feel.

Your only job in this process is to know what you think and feel and then to behave congruently.

It is not your job to get another to think and feel the same way as you.

It takes courage to voice this to another, and even more courage to make choices as a result. But in the long run you are being true to yourself, and respecting both yourself and others in the process.

If you are feeling angry all the time and need clarity about why, or find yourself in angry confrontations where nothing is resolved because each of the parties to the argument blame the other and are defensive, or you can’t seem to tolerate your anger and let it have its voice before you understand its purpose, then then consider making an appointment with a counsellor who can help facilitate clearer understanding. Make an appointment for counselling with Bronwyn at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling by phoning 021 127 7738 or send an email to [email protected]. My counselling rooms are in Remuera, Auckland, skype appointments are also available if necessary. For further details you can also log onto www.yourpath.co.nz.

References 
Lerner, H.G. PhD (1985) The Dance of Anger. Harper amp; Row Publishers, New York.


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