How to Deal With the Negative Aspect of the Emotion of Anger
Anger Shows On Our Face
Introduction To Anger
According to the Collins dictionary, “Anger is the strong emotion that you feel when you think that someone has behaved in an unfair, cruel, or unacceptable way”.
Anger can manifest itself in a number of behaviours. We might swear more, lash out physically or verbally, we might feel rage and become violent or feel like we could be violent.
Physically anger can make our heart beat faster, our muscles become tense, our jaw is tight and we might be gritting our teeth. We feel sweaty, anxious, frustrated and we feel dreadful.
When we are stuck in anger but we are not aware we are angry, we can seem aggressive to others. We can get stuck in angry thoughts and our thoughts effect other emotions. When we are not aware that we are angry or do not know what we are angry about, it will show on our faces, in our body language and in our actions.
When we hold on to anger it is destructive to our body and our relationship with ourselves and with others. Relationships can become abusive when anger is involved especially if we do not know how to express that anger.
Whatever the reason for our anger we lose our ability to be happy as we cannot feel angry and happy at the same time. Anger is a block to feeling happy and robs us of the inner power to change our lives for the better.
We all feel anger for some reason at some time or other and that is okay. Anger is healthy when we are reacting to an injustice but can become an unhealthy emotion when we cannot let that anger go.
It is healthy to our mind, body and spirit when we consciously allow ourselves to feel and express our anger.
The positive side of anger is that it can be the motivation we need to deal with an injustice either to ourselves or to another.
We all have within us, an emotional compass or an emotional guide that lets us know that we are on the right track in life. Just like a compass lets us know we are going in the right direction towards our desired destination our emotional compass lets us know if we are going in the right direction, or not, of our desired experience.
This compass knows of two emotions, good feeling emotions and bad feeling emotions. As my thoughts are the cause of my emotions and I am feeling bad then I know my emotional compass is facing the wrong direction. I know I am off track and I am looking in the wrong places to get my needs of being loved and feeling happy met. When I am stuck in anger and not feeling good and happy, I know I need to deal with the anger and then change my negative thoughts to adjust my emotional compass.
When we feel angry and stressed, our emotional compass is telling us through our emotions that we are not going in the direction of the experience we want to have. It is letting us know that our thoughts need changing so that we can change course and face the right way towards what we desire.
When we feel joy, happiness and love we know our emotional compass is pointing in the direction and going towards the happier experiences we want.
Repressing anger not only takes a lot of energy and leaves us feeling drained, it can prevent us from feeling positive emotions like excitement, joy, happiness and love.
John Gray says of repressed anger, in his book, 'What You Can Feel You Can Heal',"Depression is not an intense sadness it is suppressed anger that has been redirected at yourself". pg 77
We repress and do not express our anger for fear of being rejected or punished. Some of us are taught that it is wrong to feel and express anger. We might feel guilty for feeling angry or we might feel responsible for someone else's anger.
Unless we can learn to safely express our normal emotions of anger we forfeit the ability to create the life we want. We cut off from other positive emotions such as self love and love for others.
My Experience Of Holding On To Anger
I grew up in an abusive angry home. Both my parents were angry people and they expressed their anger with violence towards me. I would be punished by a beating from my mum or dad if ever I expressed that I was angry, so I learnt to supress my anger. I would be seething on the inside but would never show that to the outside world for fear of what would happen to me. I learnt that it was safer for me to keep my anger to myself and inside my body where it played havoc. I came to a point where I did not even know I was angry or if I was angry I would deny it. I felt anxious and unable to feel more pleasant emotions.
When I got older I still found it difficult to express my anger. I became anxious and was diagnosed with depression at the age of fourteen. I self harmed by taking over doses when I became angry or frustrated because I did not know any other way to deal with my anger. I always felt like I was ready to explode as my anger ate away at my self esteem and my body.
When I had my own children I tried hard never to show anger towards them. I was fighting a losing battle by trying not to be angry. I spent a lot of time shouting and feeling frustrated and guilty whenever my children saw me angry. I felt ashamed that there were times when I could not control the anger that I had suppressed. I felt constantly stressed and used a lot of energy trying to keep my anger suppressed. I felt constantly exhausted and on the edge. Life was hard and I did not see the point of life.
My anger would sometimes burst out of me and I would punch myself hard or hit myself in the face with something heavy. My children have seen me hitting myself out of frustration and I saw fear on their faces. I would then feel guilt for frightening my children and I would live in fear of having another angry outburst. I knew I needed help but was afraid of being called 'crazy' or 'mental'.
In 2001 I came across John Grays book, 'How To Get What You Want And Want What You Have' and I learnt all about my messed up emotions. I learnt from John that it was okay to feel anger even though I was not really aware that what I was feeling was anger. I learnt that by allowing unexpressed anger to carry on I was preventing myself from experiencing love and happiness. Hanging on to my anger was also making me ill and was affecting my relationships with others. My life was devoid of any form of happiness as I felt that I was not worthy of feeling good. I felt bad all the time, my emotional compass was pointing in the wrong direction, away from what I wanted to create in my life. I pretended to others that I was okay so that I would be accepted but I was far from being okay. From the book I learnt all about my emotions and how to identify them and become aware of what I was feeling. I also learnt the importance of expressing my anger in a safe way.
Expressing Anger Process
The way to let go of a negative emotion is to first become aware of it, feel it and own it and then let it go. When we are stuck in anger we want to blame the person, the situation or the thing that made us angry. By blaming others we forfeit our inner power to let the anger go so that we can move on and live the life we want and deserve.
If you do not feel safe to express anger or your anger scares you and you do not know what to do with it, try this process.
Write out your response in a journal or on a piece of paper that you can rip up and throw away. The point of this process is to get the anger out of you so that you can see what is making you angry. Allow yourself to feel anger so that you can release it. Don’t hold back. Say exactly what you want to say. Remember no one will see what you have written. Let your inner self express your anger. If you find that your anger erupts and you are struggling to deal with it, beat a cushion and let your anger out.
If I was feeling anger, what would I be angry about?
I feel angry because?...
I know that I am angry because I feel?...
I feel anger in my body and it feels like...
We all want to feel loving and be loved. We want to enjoy life and feel happy so, now that you are aware of your anger, do the following process to bring you to a calmer and more loving place. Take back your power to create the life you want to experience.
Write down your responses so that your body can feel what your mind is saying.
If I were to feel happy what would I be doing?
What experience would bring more joy and happiness into my life?
What would I be thinking about to make me feel happier?
What goal could I work towards to make my life happier?
By thinking about and focusing on what we want from life and what we want to achieve, we bring our emotional compass to face the direction in life we want to go. By thinking and feeling about happier and more positive experiences, we have access to our inner power to create the life we want.
Ask yourself often. How do I feel right now? Do I feel good or do I feel bad. If its bad then remember that you have gone off track and your emotional guidance is facing in the wrong direction and away from the goal you are aiming for which is to be more loving and happy.
In this hub we learn how to identify that we are feeling angry. We learn to become aware of the anger we are feeling and how to express it and let it go. The aim of the hub is to help bring us back to a sense of balance and to point our emotional compass in the direction we want to go, towards a loving and happy life.