Image courtesy of Chris Roll / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Anger can be a taboo emotion - here are some acceptable ways of dealing with it.
Anger is a valid, real and most importantly a perfectly acceptable emotion to experience. However, the negative connotations associated with this emotion, such as expressions of violence, may cause people to not admit when they do feel this feeling brewing inside of them. This can more so be for people who allow others to control and manipulate them, and have trouble asserting themselves to say ‘no’ to such dominant people. It can be more difficult for women to admit that they are feeling angry, because women in history have often been expected to be ‘nice’ - sweet, accepting and smiling. Even today, women are still slightly subservient in a patriarchal world.
There are definitely no problems when one is experiencing happiness. We can smile, and it is easy to be pleasant, friendly and courteous, and not get frustrated with those whom we encounter.
It is not a very horrible feeling to be depressed, sad or grief-stricken. We may feel de-motivated, de-energised and feel like crying. However, in one way, sadness may be seen as a preferable emotion to anger. People won’t frown upon us so much if we are sad. They are more likely to feel at a loss, so therefore avoid us, or their empathy may lead them to want to help. They may feel indifferent if they do not know us.
However, whether we like it or not, we all get angry. This is as distinct from sadness as it is from happiness. We all recognise that turbulent feeling of what can range from irritation and impatience to being frustrated to feeling an onslaught of full-blown rage.
What kind of things make us angry?
Resentment. Stewing on past injustices in our lives and making them real once again. For example bitter break-ups, things people have said and done to us in our lives that were not fair.
Feeling one is currently being treated unfairly. For example, being taken advantage of, provoked or treated unjustly to what one feels one deserves.
Feeling that one has no control over anything in one’s life. This can build up over time if one, for example, has trouble being assertive and lets them direct their life this way, and that when they are a competent adult who can think and make decisions for themselves. Being treated like a non-person would make anyone angry.
Irritations and Provocations. Being stuck in a traffic jam, being yelled at for no reason, or noisy crowds.
Vicariously experiencing others' suffering these situations.
Therefore, it’s there. Does it help to pretend it does not exist? For example, we typically feel like a strong, energetic response to anger like yelling, or even hitting a punching bag. However, there is no doubt that expressions of anger are frowned upon by our society. We are supposed to take a deep breath, and basically “grin and bare it” or “cop it sweetly.”
We can't go around expressing our anger like we did in the caveman days for example. After all it’s in our ancestry to have a ‘fight or flight’ response to danger, and anger would help us with the ‘fight’ response.
What are healthier, yet acceptable ways of dealing with anger?
1. Admit that it’s there. All humans experience it, and that it’s acceptable.
2. Regarding resentment. Write down letters to all the people who you feel have treated you unjustly or unfairly, and how you felt. Release it. Then rip up the letters.
Realise now, for you, the only one who will suffer from retaining bitterness is you. The people who hurt you have already moved on.
3. Right here, right now put your life back into your hands. It does not mean being selfish, but establishing boundaries that separate you from other people. You are you, and therefore you have the right to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’. There are many centres and books that teach assertiveness skills. This should lead you to feel that you are more in control.
Assertiveness is basically about saying 'yes' and 'no' when you want to, while respecting your own needs and others needs at the same time. It's not selfish. It's actually a more honest way to live.
4. With irritations in the present like a crazy and rude driver on the road, breathe deeply, but realise if you allow yourself to be stirred up, just like resentment, you will suffer. When one is surrounded by a lot of daily provocations, it is helpful to have things like happy things you are looking forward to on your mind. Practicing calmness and mindfulness on a daily basis can help build resilience when these daily irritations are encountered. Some people find things like punching a bag helpful at a gym to let off steam.
5. When you see someone you care about or even someone you do not know experience injustice; try to realise that you, at home can make more of a difference by perhaps donating to the cause**.
This could be animal mistreatment, for example. Perhaps volunteer at your local RSPCA.
When I allowed myself to recognise and allow my anger to be valid and real, but yet acceptably expressed; I have functioned better, and thus have shared these ideas with you.