When you think of anger, what comes to mind for you? Do you picture someone yelling, screaming, throwing things, or getting physically violent? Do you imagine yourself losing control, doing something rash, or hurting someone’s feelings? Do you picture relationships going badly or destroyed as a consequence of anger? Maybe you see it coming at you as in someone treating you badly, being critical, or even hostile. Does just thinking about anger make you feel anxious or uncomfortable?
Many people perceive anger as bad and having only negative consequences.
When I’m doing workshops to help people more fully experience and work with their feelings, invariably someone will ask whether anger is an exception. Anger is a feeling like any other, and is meant to be of use to us, but as this question suggests, it’s one that continues to be misunderstood.
The main problem that many of us face with anger has to do with fear: it scares us.
We are afraid of our anger. We’re afraid to stay present and experience it inside of us, afraid that we’ll be overwhelmed and lose control. We’re afraid to speak up, to set limits, we’re afraid to let people see us for who we really are, that others will react badly, or think poorly of us. And so we do all these things to avoid our anger. Things we’re not even aware we’re doing. We dismiss it, minimize our feelings, or rationalize away the cause for our feeling angry. We distract ourselves, change the subject, and push it aside. We may numb ourselves by going shopping, eating, surfing the Internet, playing video games, or zoning out in front of the television. We do everything we can to steer clear of it, to keep it at bay, to avoid being uncomfortable, to make it go away.
But it doesn’t go away. It festers inside, drains us of vital energy, and eventually resurfaces as: irritability, anxiety, restlessness, worry, depression, insomnia, teeth grinding, headaches, stomach and intestinal problems, procrastination, chronic fatigue, poor self-esteem, sexual difficulties, angry outburst, and relationship problems. And that’s just naming a few.
We end up cut off from our emotions, from a deeper experience of ourselves, our lives, and relationships. It’s no wonder why many of us end up feeling disconnected, lost, and confused…why we end up suffering.
I understand this dilemma so well because it describes how I used to be. For a long time, I was fairly out of touch with what I truly felt deep down inside, on a gut level. I had become so afraid of my emotions in general that I couldn’t hear the voice of my deepest self buried somewhere inside me–the voice that knew what I wanted, knew what I longed for, new what felt right to me and what felt wrong.
Over the course of my Befriending Anger blog series, we’re going to take a look at anger, one of the most misunderstood emotions, and I’m going to teach you a four-step process to help you befriend and make good use of this essential feeling in your life. You’re going to learn to identify the ways in which you’ve been short-circuiting your progress by avoiding your anger, how to decrease any discomfort you might be experiencing, how to increase your capacity to be present with your anger and make the most of its energy and wisdom, and how to clearly and constructively express yourself to others.
These are difficult times. We are living in a heightened state of emotions – anger has been weaponized and used to divide us, right when we most need to be united. I look forward to sharing this series with you to help you use the wisdom and power of your emotions, including anger, to get the life you really want. If you’d like to receive an audio recording of this Befriending Anger series, you can get your free copy here.