Although anger is a natural, useful and important emotion, it is vital that we find ways to respectfully express anger. Feeling anger is not a problem; problems arise when anger is expressed in aggressive or explosive ways. When this happens anger can be destructive to individuals and relationships.
Some Aspects of Anger
• Stress shortens our fuse.
• Often there is more contributing to our anger than we are aware.
• Anger often shows up when we see something in others that we don’t like about ourselves.
• Anger can simmer under the surface powered by old hurts and wounds.
• We may respond in anger when we feel hurt or disappointed.
• Anger is often the response when what is happening now triggers unresolved hurts from the past.
• Anger may at times overwhelm us when we hear words or feel feelings that have negatively impacted us before.
• Anger is a natural response to perceived injustice or unfairness.
• Anger can motivate us to push past our fears and take needed action.
Beware Of Negative Thoughts That Pump Up Your Anger
It may be tempting to think that the actions or word of others have made you angry. It seems reasonable that if people would not be so rude or frustrating that you would not feel angry. It is an amazing discovery to find that others do not have to have that kind of power and control over you. You have the ability to choose your response. How you think about the incident will either pump up your anger or help you to react in a more assertive and respectful way.
Common Negative Thought Patterns That Increase Anger:
• Overgeneralization. Thinking or saying things like, “You always interrupt me. You NEVER listen to me. EVERYONE disregards what I have to say. I NEVER get the respect I deserve.”
• Blaming throwing. Constantly looking for someone to blame when there are problems. Sidestepping responsibility for your own words and actions by blaming others.
• Overly rigid “shoulds” and “musts.” Being obsessive about the way things should be can pump up anger when others do not comply.
• Assuming. Thinking that you know why someone did or said something. Jumping to the conclusion that they purposefully ignored or disrespected you.
• Stuffing feelings. Storing little resentful thoughts away until the pressure builds up and explodes in a huge over-reaction to the next frustration.
Ideas For Replacing Negative Thought Patterns:
• Overgeneralization – Stay with what is happening now. Try saying things like, “I am not feeling heard, could you please tell me what you just heard me say?”
• Blaming throwing – Pause to consider how you might be contributing to the problem. Take responsibility for your own words and actions. Think I am choosing; rather than s/he made me (angry).
• Overly rigid “shoulds” and “musts” – Be open and willing to accept what is. Remember you cannot control others, so choose to control your response to them.
• Assuming – Clarifying. Try saying something like, “It sounds to me like you are saying… ; is that what you mean ?” Try staying curious rather than going to anger.
• Stuffing feelings – Speak up. Try being just 5% more assertive and speaking up, rather than stuffing resentments away. If you can really let it go then let it go. If it is going to continue to bother you, speak up.
Anger is a helpful emotion when expressed respectfully. Being aware of negative thought patterns that pump up your anger gives you the opportunity to choose to replace those thought patterns with thought patterns that help you feel more in control of you.