I don’t think anyone likes to be angry.
I’d hazard a guess and say that most people are scared of anger, whether it’s being angry or facing someone else’s angry emotions and actions. They just don’t like it. One reason is that anger makes you feel vulnerable. At other times it evokes feelings of guilt and shame impacting your sense of self and self-esteem.
And anger can feel like a dangerous thing. That’s because it can be. Violence and aggression are destructive forces unless transformed into nonviolence through insight, responsibility and choice.
For many women, expressing anger is difficult. When women are seen to be relational and caregiving, anger somehow doesn’t fit. A woman showing her anger is often seen as cold, unattractive, hard or bitchy.
Anger doesn’t have to be violent, to feel painful.
Christmas time is a time when tempers become frayed. I notice an increased number of enquiries to my practice. Calls to the couples counselling charity Relate go up by 59% over Christmas, and the average family has their first argument at 9.58am on Christmas Day morning.
I’m Not Angry But….
Anger is a human emotion which fits alongside sadness, happiness, disgust, surprise and fear.
But, perhaps because of its potentially destructive qualities, anger seems to be the emotion with which we humans struggle with most. I hear clients say: ‘I’m not angry, I’m irritated.’, ‘I’m not angry. I’m just annoyed.’ ‘I’m not angry with my husband, I’m just frustrated with him.‘ or ‘I am unhappy with him.‘
These are all just different ways to express varying degrees of anger.
Anger ranges from mild irritation to rage. Upset, irritation, annoyance, feeling peeved, indignant or frustrated are all on the anger inventory list. It would seem ‘I am angry!’ are the hardest words to say.
To feel anger is to feel the experience of being human. The problem is not the emotion, but what you do with the anger.
Anger is a response to feeling hurt. It’s the human flight-fight response in action. Something feels like it’s threatening your sense of Self and happiness. It’s great that the brain is working and doing what it’s supposed to do. But:
Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath. Eckhart Tolle
Anger is an alarm bell. All of a sudden, something needs attention. For some people, the alarm is quick to go off. Instead of detecting the intruder who has smashed through the front door, the alarm is triggered by the wind rattling the window.
Low self-esteem or a poor sense of Self may mean that your anger is evoked at times when you are trying to maintain a sense of identity, control and independence. Unresolved Childhood Emotional Neglect, wounding or trauma may be a cause of your present-day anger.
Anger is also one of the stages of grief. If you have suffered a loss which you have not yet grieved it may be that unexpressed anger appears. If the loss happened sometime in the past, you wouldn’t make sense of it as the cause of your angry outburst.
Or your stress levels may be building up to a level which adds to what you are angry about in the moment. So it’s not just about your partner’s untidy habits, what else is going on that you haven’t spoken up about?
Listening To The Alarm
Part of integrating your anger is becoming attuned to the internal alarm so that you can say ‘Ouch, that hurt!’ and reset.
You can do this because anger is an emotion; it’s energy moving in the body. You feel it. The knot in the stomach, the pounding of the heart, trembling, tearfulness, the feeling of heaviness or depression. This energy needs to be processed and moved through the body.
Sorry, I’m Late, It’s The Dog’s Fault!
Because if your anger isn’t integrated and expressed it leaks out anyway; here’s how:
- Illness, stress or depression
- Persistent lateness
- Telling double-edged jokes at your partners’ expense
- Grudges; you keep bringing up old resentments
- Withdrawing, stonewalling and sulking
- Disordered and binge eating
- Co-dependancy, people-pleasing
Anger can also contribute to health problems such as addiction, high blood pressure and depression.
Anger threatens and destroys relationships even where there is no violence.
When you express your anger assertively, in a non-aggressive, but constructive manner – you are asserting what your needs are and how you want them met without hurting anyone else.
Over To You
Do you know the ways you hide your anger? Where did you learn that trying to stop your emotions was the safest thing to do? If you want to explore your relationship with anger get in touch and book your first counselling appointment.
Or call me today on 07535 864836.
Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. PASS IT ON
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© Sandra Harewood
Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and single women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create great relationships.