Accepting that Angry Part of You
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
16th July, 20130 Comments
Without exception, one emotion that we all find difficult to deal with is anger. It is an unpleasant feeling for both the ‘giver’ and the receiver. It is perhaps the emotion that we are most afraid of, because we don’t know how to deal with it or how to challenge it. Often people describe a point at which their anger starts to build; they then snap, and suddenly find themselves in an uncontrollable state. Afterwards, we can feel guilty for our actions or that we went too far. Somehow, instead of helping our cause, anger can diminish from the validity of our case and make it more difficult to persuade others to our point of view.
Of course, we all show anger in different ways. Some people never seem to be angry, and nothing seems to push them to raise their voices or get annoyed; others are at the other end of the scale and the least thing can set them off. The latter can be very difficult to live with, for you always live on the edge, walking on eggshells. However, anger does have a purpose; it allows us to show when someone has hurt us, perhaps by ignoring or not considering our feelings or boundaries. Sometimes it is a way of letting all of the hurt that has built up inside explode out.
Often anger is about fear; something that the person is afraid of. Perhaps they never feel heard and they fear you will not be different this time, or that people keep pressuring them into decisions that they are not comfortable with or are being made too quickly.
Of course, many people bottle up their anger because they are worried that, when they express their feelings, it will become uncontrollable, and that they won’t be able to stop and will feel terrible afterward. It’s easier to choose to keep it inside. In reality, most people are in control when they are angry; they have not turned into a monster. While some do use anger inappropriately, the vast majority return to normal after expressing the key problems.
The danger in ignoring angry feelings is that they don’t go away when you bottle them up; they fester, rather like an infection, and they can explode out at an inopportune time or move you nearer to the top of that continuum of the person who seems to explode at everything. Factors like anxiety, stress and illness can all make anger worse - and, ironically, anger can also cause these conditions, making it a vicious cycle which can be hard to break.
Therapy can help to identify some of the triggers for anger and can help you to examine your assumptions and change your reaction to them. It is not that you are expected to stand back in a moment of rage to look at the wider picture, but rather in a calm environment to look at the deeper feelings causing the anger. You can ask yourself if the assumptions that you are making about others are true; question how angry it makes you and then choose behaviour that you are sure meets those set of circumstances. Part of this may be about confronting old feelings or current problems, but the aim is to put you back in control of your behaviours.
Anger can be a difficult emotion to understand and accept as part of our entire make up. Learning how and when to express our anger can make us feel better about ourselves and the direction we take when looking after ourselves and our world. So, if you feel your anger is getting out of hand, you can do something about it; there are resources and people out there to help.
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- Empathy: The antidote to shame
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