“Anger is just a cowardly extension of sadness. It’s a lot easier to be angry at someone than it is to tell them you’re hurt.” ~Tom Gates
Very often when people get angry they blame someone else for making them angry. They may not have liked another person’s behavior, or they feel that someone “pushed their buttons.”
The truth is that we make ourselves angry, and we should be completely in control of our “buttons.” Anger is a reaction, often of the “knee jerk” variety. It is not a conscious, thought out response.
When we feel anger rising within, it should be like a warning light that tells us something is not sitting well with us. The problem may lie outside of ourselves; a situation or behavior of another, but it may also be strictly about our own inner process.
Once we are aware that we are feeling anger we need to stop and assess what is really going on, rather than simply venting the emotion that has arisen.
Perhaps we are angry because someone forgot our birthday, or did not follow through on something they said they would do. It is perfectly legitimate to let another know how we feel and why we are upset. It is also legitimate to tell them what we need.
If we think of venting anger as though we are hitting the person with a big stick, we quickly see that this is not legitimate. When we vent anger we are actually “hitting” a person with our words and emotions. All that accomplishes is to make the person withdraw from us, feeling hurt and resentful, or it causes them to “hit” back.
Escalating anger is like escalating physical violence, only with anger it is not the body that gets beaten up, but rather, the spirit. Physical bruises heal in about a week. Emotional bruises take much longer, and some may never truly heal. Children may be scarred for life if very hurtful things are said. For adults, anger may eventually destroy relationships.
Sometimes venting anger is like dropping a bomb, because it is not only the intended victim that experiences it and is affected by it. Bystanders can be hurt too.
We can certainly call another’s behavior inappropriate, disappointing, unacceptable, hurtful, unfair or whatever else we might feel about it. We can be assertive and set boundaries. We just need to learn to do it without contaminating the environment with emotional pollution.
Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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