Anger - expressing and dealing with it wisely
Anger is a normal human emotion. It is relevant and healthy to become aware of and to express our anger. We all experience this powerful emotion at different times, and we need anger to help us grow and learn. Take, for example, the toddler who becomes angry when they find it hard to share their toys; their care givers them that we need to share and that it is kind to do so. Emotional resilience is a large learning curve for children and for adults.
We may feel anger for many reasons: injustice, frustration, guilt, and when people 'hit our sensitive buttons' - but how can we express how we feel and to whom? If we express our anger in the way we want to, by aiming it directly at the person who has made us angry, it may initially make us feel good, but will it solve the problem? I very much doubt it. The other person may not understand what we are angry about and may even become angry themselves. That person may reject our communication and make us feel even worse than we did before, hence putting ourselves at risk of again feeling angry and not solving the problem. We need to find coping strategies for us to express how we feel in a mature, constructive way.
How do we achieve this?
By working on our own 'inner feelings' and recognising our anger triggers. If we recognise our triggers, we can work on understanding the feeling and where it originated from. Is this a real threat or a learned behaviour? How can we adapt our feelings and actions for a more positive outcome?
How do we deal with other people's anger?
Does this make us feel angry too? How do we react? Do we become angry and perhaps make the situation worse, or take a step back and let the person vent how they feel? We all need to express our feelings, and for our feelings to be heard and validated. Perhaps ask the person to clarify why they are feeling this way; is the situation pressing their 'sensitive buttons', is there an overreaction? Don't promise anything that you will later regret or not be able to commit to. 'Be the bigger person' and offer a compromise. Use sentences such as 'I want to let you know' and 'this is how I would like us to be'. By using 'I' you are taking control and making sure you achieve your needs. You will be surprised how powerful this makes you feel and how the other person will respect you for making the decision.
Sometimes 'agreeing to disagree' is a good solution. Here we are respecting each other's needs and wants without asking either party to compromise.
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About Heather Shipley
Heather Shipley is a CBT and Emotional Therapeutic Counsellor (DipFETC MNCS MFETC). Her style of counselling is person-centred and includes talking and creative therapies for children, adolescents and adults. For further details: www.hshipleytherapy.co.uk.