It was a bit of a revelation for me. The words floated off of the page of my Boundaries book, the one that Husband #2 and I are reading together in our two person book club:
Anger tells us that our boundaries have been violated…angry feelings serve as an “early warning system,” telling us we’re in danger of being injured or controlled.
I have to admit, this is the first time I’ve seen anger presented in a “productive” light. Typically we’re told that anger is bad, something to overcome, not anything we want to hold on to for very long. If you’re angry, you’re evil. Studies have shown us the down side of anger—what it does to our health, our relationships, our mind.
Anger signals danger…anger is a sign that we need to move forward to confront the threat.
Now the authors, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, were telling me that it’s OK to be angry. Anger even serves a purpose:
Anger also provides us with a sense of power to solve a problem. It energizes us to protect ourselves, those we love, and our principles.
In my case, I didn’t have issues with finding my anger. I hid behind anger like a shield. It helped to keep people out and hide my hurt. My problem with anger was voicing it in an appropriate way. Sarcasm and eye rolling are not the preferred methods for expressing anger appropriately. (But I’m so good at those two things!)
I found some very useful information on HelpGuide.org. Here are my favorite items from the article on Anger Management:
- The emotion of anger is neither good nor bad. It’s perfectly healthy and normal to feel angry when you’ve been mistreated or wronged. The feeling isn’t the problem—it’s what you do with it that makes a difference. Anger becomes a problem when it harms you or others.
- Anger is often a cover-up for other feelings
- We are rarely ever angry for the reasons we think.
- How important is it in the grand scheme of things?
I especially liked this section from the article for finding healthier ways to express your anger
It’s okay to be upset at someone, but if you don’t fight fair, the relationship will quickly break down. Fighting fair allows you to express your own needs while still respecting others.
- Make the relationship your priority. Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than “winning” the argument, should always be your first priority. Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint.
- Focus on the present. Once you are in the heat of arguing, it’s easy to start throwing past grievances into the mix. Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the present to solve the problem.
- Choose your battles. Conflicts can be draining, so it’s important to consider whether the issue is really worthy of your time and energy. If you pick your battles rather than fighting over every little thing, others will take you more seriously when you are upset.
- Be willing to forgive. Resolving conflict is impossible if you’re unwilling or unable to forgive. Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish, which can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining our lives.
- Know when to let something go. If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree. It takes two people to keep an argument going. If a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and move on.
Maybe, just maybe, after 48 years of life I can finally figure things out and get my personal life on track and express anger in a productive way.
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