Healthy Expression of Anger

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“When anger rises, think of the consequences.” ~ Confucius

exasperated momDo you ever notice that when you are annoyed with a loved one, it can be hard to see their good points? This is because when we go into a place of anger, most often it is because our ego is reacting to something not being as we think it should be (as opposed to the anger in a true crisis situation).

Ordinary, everyday anger is most often about control. The angry person is frustrated at not being able to control another person or situation. Struggle for control is the source of most conflict in the world, and rarely leads to anything good. It is far better to invite cooperation. Going into anger almost of necessity requires us to drastically collapse our visual/perceptual field, and to focus only on our own narrow point of interest. Little children do this (I hate you Daddy!), but as adults it is our job to compensate for their momentary intense self-interest, and not take such an outburst too seriously.

It takes, on the other hand, an incredible amount of wisdom and maturity to do this with teenage children, parents, or partners. Knowing this, if we want our exchanges to be something more than childish bickering and emotion-venting, we need to upgrade our programs.

Still, even with the most rational John Gray/Dr. Phil/transcendental yoga training/Oprah-approved methodology, we are emotional human beings. Valid as our emotions might be, our emotional expressions can really hurt and dishonor others. For this, we must take responsibility. We need to install a firewall, to protect others from our potentially burning words.

Here’s one you can try. Before confronting another with your upset, first take a few minutes to become calm and centered. Think of all you appreciate about this person, and what you would miss if they disappeared totally from your life. Then, begin your communication by telling them why they are special to you, what their unique gifts are, and how much you love them. Let that sink in. Then, you can proceed to explain why you are annoyed.

This approach helps to keep the problem in perspective, and prevents us from using others as emotional punching bags for our own pent-up frustrations. It also feels so good, because we are honoring both others, and ourselves.

Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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