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WHAT IS YOUR ANGER TRYING TO TELL YOU?

Anger is a highly misunderstood emotion. Anger can be a frightening phenomenon, both for the individual experiencing it and those toward whom it is directed. Even those witnessing an outburst of anger can be left feeling shaken and afraid. And yet, anger is an emotion that everybody experiences at one time or another. What exactly is this powerful emotion?


WHAT IS ANGER?

Anger can be an important messenger, alerting you that something is not as it should be. Anger can tell you:

  • your desires or expectations are unmet

  • you feel hurt, offended or rejected

  • that something has gone wrong, or someone has wronged you

  • that you need to stand up for yourself

  • that you need to take action

  • that you are feeling stress, frustration, and irritation

  • that an injustice has occurred which needs to be addressed



ANGER IS A SECONDARY EMOTION.

Anger is often referred to as a "secondary" emotion because it occurs as a result of deeper "softer" emotions which are difficult to express or even recognize. Expressing anger can feel empowering and leave one with a feeling of being in control. Feelings in the submerged portion of the iceberg, such as sadness, hurt, grief, or disappointment sound "weak" when compared to anger. These feelings are associated with vulnerability, which is difficult for most people to connect with.

It is much safer to stay with the anger than to explore the depths and come face to face with the underlying emotions that contribute to our anger.


SILENT ANGER OR RESENTMENT Anger is not always expressed outwardly. An individual may be seething internally with "silent" anger. It is a very toxic form of anger that can literally infect your insides with poison. This type of anger may be displayed in subtle ways like giving someone the silent treatment, making sarcastic comments, or cold, stand-offish body language. Holding onto grudges for past hurts, or excluding someone from your party because they made a joke about you months earlier. Saying things like "Yeah, whatever," or saying "Everything is fine", while your facial expression says otherwise are all ways of expressing anger in a round-about way. This form of anger can be just as destructive to relationships as anger that is expressed verbally. Silent anger is also called passive-aggressive anger. This form of anger relies on indirect communication that is manipulative and guilt-inducing. People who engage in silent anger often suffer from low self-esteem and maybe even self-loathing.


JUDGING OTHERS CAN BE A FORM OF ANGER

Judgment is a way of saying "I'm right and you're wrong". It can be cloaked as "righteous anger", thus justifying it and legitimizing it as a moral obligation. Judgment is extremely divisive and can be harmful to relationships. What if instead of judging others for their lifestyles, their beliefs or their choices, we became curious with a desire to learn more about our differences. Instead of saying "what's wrong with you", we said, "Tell me more about that."


HOW CAN YOU TELL IF ANGER IS AN ISSUE THAT YOU NEED TO ADDRESS?

  • If you are angry often

  • If you find your anger increasing in frequency

  • If you find your anger increasing in intensity

  • If you hurt yourself or others due to anger

  • Find that anger is causing other mental or physical health problems

  • Make excuses for your behavior to others or deny that your anger is a problem

WHAT ARE SOME HELPFUL WAYS TO DEAL WITH YOUR ANGER?

If you are experiencing anger regularly, it might be helpful to explore what is being protected by anger. What emotions are underneath that anger that need to be tended to? Is it fear? Is it unexpressed grief over past losses? Do you need to learn to build up your self-esteem or self-love if you are expressing anger in a silent or passive-aggressive manner?


Take a look at the iceberg image which is shown above. One suggestion is to examine each primary emotion that is mentioned and journal about the ones that you can identify as part of your emotional landscape. How has disappointment affected your life? What about guilt, regret or rejection?







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