How To Handle Anger
Anger isn't something we need to feel ashamed about. It's not an emotion we need to ignore. Anger can be a warning signal. So let's talk about how to handle it.
Do you ever feel angry because your loved one has an issue with drugs, drinking, pornography, gambling, or sex?
No judgment here. You're safe.
May I ask you another question (or three)?
Do you feel guilty about feeling angry?
When anger takes over your body, do you say things you later regret?
Or do you continue being "nice" and just shove, shove, shove the anger down further and further until you can almost pretend you've forgotten about it?
The subject of anger is tricky for women. I once heard a famous author say she wrote one paragraph in her book about anger and received more criticism and attention about that paragraph than any other part of the book (and this was a New York Times best-seller).
Another highly respected female author said when she dared to talk about her anger, she lost a lot of readers who refused to buy her books.
Why are we so angry when women express anger?
Unless we're robots, anger is a natural emotion, and it especially makes a regular appearance in our lives if we are being lied to, manipulated, or hurt by the disease of addiction.
Anger is an important emotion for us to pay attention to.
Dr. Harriet Lerner discusses the theory of anger in her excellent book: The Dance of Anger.
"Anger is a signal worth listening to. Our anger may be a message that we are being hurt, that our rights are being violated, that our needs or wants are not being adequately met, or simply that something is not right. Our anger may tell us that we are not addressing an important emotional issue in our lives, or that too much of our self – our beliefs, values, desires, or ambitions – is being compromised in a relationship. Our anger may be a signal that we are doing more and giving more than we can comfortably do or give. Our anger may warn us that others are doing too much for us, at the expenses of our own competence and growth. Just as physical pain, anger preserves the very integrity of our self. Our anger can motivate us to say 'no' to the ways in which we are defined by others and 'yes' to the dictates of our inner self."
Don't you just love that? Anger isn't something we need to feel ashamed about. It's not an emotion we need to ignore.
Anger can be a warning signal. Our insides are letting us know that something isn't right.
In Dr. Lerner's book, she writes about how women are dismissed or called irrational when they show their anger.
Has the one you love dismissed your anger when you're upset because they have been making hurtful choices?
Have they told you that you were being irrational or dramatic?
Here are some steps to start practicing next time something comes up that results in you feeling angry:
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