I have a goal in my personal life to learn to express ANGER more appropriately. It’s a difficult emotion to deal with because I grew up with an extraordinary emphasis on “Turn the other cheek” and “Love your enemies” and “Love is not easily angered” and “It’s rude to raise your voice” and “Swearing is a sin” etc. I also had an experience last year where I lost a very dear relationship because I was told someone that I was angry at her.
Anger often has to do with expectations. “I am angry because I wanted this, and you gave me that.” When I feel angry it is predominantly about my experience of reality not matching up with my ideas about how it “should” be or how I “want” it to be. What’s interesting is that this has very little to do with other people’s behaviour or actions. What I mean is that, if I feel angry, it is because of my perception and my ideals, not actually because of what another person did.
Does knowing this make me any less angry? Absolutely not. I daresay, it motivates me to be more honest about feeling angry rather than less.
If I play the blame game: “I’m angry because YOU SAID you would be home at 7 and YOU didn’t get home until 9!” – the likelihood is that I will get a defensive response from the other person: “It’s not my fault; I had to work late!”
When I own my anger: “I’m angry because I had to change all my plans for the evening,” – it creates an opportunity for the other person to alter his/her behaviour to meet my needs.
Even more importantly than that, the more I own my anger, I realise that the only person I can change is myself. It is quite possible that after sharing my anger, the person I feel angry toward may choose not to change at all. Then I can decide whether I’m going to accept the other person’s behaviour and adjust my expectation and desire to be more understanding of where that person is at, or whether I am going to create boundaries in the situation so that my needs do not go unmet: “I decided to go to the movies without you, rather than resenting the fact that you didn’t get home in time to go with me.”
When I suppress or hide my anger, I find that I also hide myself. I pull away from relating to people when I have an anger-issue that relates to them, because I have this delusion that by spending less time with them, I will be less angry and everything will be okay. How is it okay for my relationships to become detached and strained just so I can avoid my own anger? This has been my “problem” for 30 years.
I am still learning to be authentic about anger. In my experience of being more honest about who I am and how I feel, I have seen some relationships blossom and others (like I said) fall to pieces. But I can’t say that I regret that. I want to go deeper. And I want to learn to love honest-anger more than I love running away…. <3