Many of you already know that you have a problem with anger. For those of you who are not sure, here are some indicators:
- When you get angry, you don’t get over it. You may be one who “holds a grudge.”
- You never get angry. You just don’t have the emotion. There are times when you know you should be angry, but the emotion just doesn’t seem to come.
- You feel frustrated, disappointed or irritable much of the time, but you just don’t ever get angry. Anger may be an unacceptable emotion, whereas frustration, disappointment or irritability is more acceptable, though not pleasant. This can interfere with or prevent any meaningful level of fulfillment or joy in life.
- You are sarcastic or cynical about yourself, others or the world around you. You may tease others in some of your “jokes,” only to be surprised when they don’t want to be around you. You don’t openly express anger but it is leaking out all the time.
- You may be depressed frequently and for long periods of time. You don’t express anger openly but take it out on yourself, whether you realize it or not.
- Perhaps you are angry all the time. You may be verbally, emotionally or even physically abusive to others in personal and professional relationships. This doesn’t mean that you are a bad person, but it is certainly time that you learned to manage you anger.
- You feel powerless in you own life — powerless to make the changes you choose to reach your goals. Though you may not use the word, you feel like a victim much of the time.
The point is that if you are denying you power by denying your emotions, you are getting in you own way.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A VICTIM
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you feel like a victim of people or circumstances around you?
- Do you ever feel weak or powerless against the forces that seem to control you life?
- Do you find yourself exploding in anger over little things?
- Do you often feel irritable and aggravated for no apparent reason?
- Are you intimidated by the anger of others? Who?
- Do you feel guilty every time you express your anger?
- Are you afraid that if you let your anger out, you might hurt someone?
- Do you believe you just don’t have any feelings?
- Do you find yourself in conflict with others too much of the time?
- Are you in conflict with yourself?
- Do you feel that the abuse or neglect you experienced in the past has set the course for your life and there’s nothing you can do about it?
- Do you sometimes wish someone would come and take care or you and make everything okay/Do you live in constant fear of something awful happening?
A “Yes” to any of these questions means you can benefit from learning about the healthy power of your anger.
Here are some points to consider about anger, when it is expressed in healthy ways:
- Healthy, current anger involves no blame or accusing.
- When expressed inappropriate ways, anger is nothing more than focused and directed emotional energy.
- When focused and directed, emotional energy gives emphasis, strength, and clarity to expression.
- Healthy anger does not attack or hurt anyone.
- Healthy anger is an expression of love.
As Bill DeFoore says, “As an expression of love, healthy anger gives strength to personal boundaries. Without the empowerment of anger, boundaries are too soft and in some cases, nonexistent. When expressed appropriately, anger gives us the security we need to risk the vulnerability of true intimacy.”
BILL DeFOORE’S MNEMONIC DEVICE — “NICE KISS”:
Notice the feeling
Identify the feeling
Claim the feeling
Express the feeling
This only works when a person has made significant progress in their own growth and healing; it will not be effective for someone who still has primary unresolved issues to work out.
Andrea Brandt, Ph.D., is a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Therapist specializing in couple counseling, divorce, custody issues, and women’s concerns. She is a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.