Accepting Anger

The other day at work, I was upset about something that someone did (or rather, didn’t do).  I won’t go into it here, other than to say that communication is a WONDERFUL tool . . . when it’s used.

Anyway, I was angry about this, and a co-worker tried to cheer me up.  She used the upbeat funny voice that people use when they’re trying to make someone feel better, and kept saying “It’s okay,” or “Calm down.”  It occurred to me that she was uncomfortable with me being upset, and confirmed this when I asked her.  Later that same evening, I was still in an angry mood (guess it was my day), and Craig started reacting to my anger like he had to walk on eggshells.  He didn’t try to change my mood, but later admitted that he too was ill at ease around anger, due to some issues in his childhood.  In neither case did I direct my anger at my co-worker or Craig.  They simply witnessed the emotion coming off of me.

So their reactions got me thinking about anger and how people are so uncomfortable around it.  Now, I’m not talking about the anger where someone is screaming all the time or throwing things, or worse, taking their anger out on people (whether physical or verbal).  That sort of anger is unhealthy, and unpleasant for everyone.  But when someone is upset or frustrated at a situation, I see nothing wrong with them expressing it.

I used to, though.  When I was a kid, I would often cower around my brother or father when they went on their anger tangents.  However, I saw a cartoon on Sesame Street about a goat that got angry that struck me at the time.  The first time I saw it, I completely disagreed with the sentiment; after all, we’re taught that it’s not “nice” or “good” to be angry or mad, especially little girls.  We’re supposed to be sugar and spice and everything nice.  So this song just went against everything I believed at the time.

Later in life, I read books and other items that also celebrated the benefits of being angry.  Some schools of thought say that anger is a great motivator, while others believe that you need to accept every facet of your personality (even the “bad” emotions), if you’re to have a truly good relationship with yourself.  While I’ve never found anger particularly motivating–other than to motivate me to clean my apartment–I do agree with the second thought.  There’s a book called The Dark Side of the Light Chasers that talks about just that.

In her book, Debbie Ford says that trying to deny or ignore your less-than-perfect qualities can actually make them worse.  She postulates that you need to be able to express every facet of being human, or the ones you repress will find other, unhealthier ways to come out.  This means that it’s good to be a bitch sometimes, or to be angry, envious, etc.  You obviously don’t want those negative emotions to control you, but by her logic they will, if you don’t let them come out and help you from time to time.

I actually found a very healthy outlet for my anger one time . . . boxing.  I was working with a trainer a few years back and he had a big punching bag that he would have me work on occasionally.  I’d never punched anything before, but I found that it was a great way to let out some aggression.  To this day, I long for a time when I can have a big punching bag in my house, or garage, or some place where I can go and let out whatever stress I might be feeling that day.

Since I’ve come to accept that even negative emotions can be useful, I find that it upsets me even more when people try to bring me out of the cellar of anger before I’m ready.  Unlike my brother, I don’t live in that cellar on a daily basis, but when someone mistreats me, or shows me a lack of respect in any way, you bet your bippy I’m gonna get mad.  I usually wait until I’ve calmed down before I let someone know they did something that angered me, because I realize I’m not always a productive communicator when my emotions run high.  But once I’ve dissected the situation in my own brain and have found the right words to use, I will tell them.  Because, as was expressed in the cartoon, people can’t change their behavior toward me unless they know that something they did got me mad.  And yes, I realize that it’s my choice to get mad or not (and not the other person’s fault), but if someone knows that something bothers me, they can also choose to do it or not in the future.

So how about you?  Are you able to accept the anger inside of you?  Have you found a useful outlet for it?

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kaye george
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 09:00:26

    What a thoughtful post. My style is to keep everything bottled up, I think. I internalize my problems and they come out in genuine health problems if I keep hold of them long enough. I know enough to seek therapy when that happens, though. Yoga and other exercises are great to get me going.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Apr 13, 2012 @ 09:11:56

      I’m glad you at least get some therapy, Kaye. I personally feel that bottling feelings up inside is one of the main causes of cancer. Because anger, like cancer, can eat away at you inside, if you don’t find a healthy outlet for it. & yes, yoga is a GREAT stress releaser.

      Thanks for stopping by today.

      Reply

  2. Dana Fredsti
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 09:01:55

    It’s taken me a while to learn how to express my anger in a way that allows me to express it without making other people feel attacked, but I do think it’s necessary for people to be able to vent and know it’s okay to feel angry without it being wrong to do so. Some people will always be uncomfortable with others’ emotions and there’s really nothing to be done about it. As long as you’re not lashing out at the people who are uncomfortable, this reaction is entirely their problem and they need to own it. The fact that you discussed this with your coworker and Craig is a really good thing to do…and hopefully they’ll learn not to take it personally, even on the ‘this makes me uncomfortable’ level. It’s not about them. That being said, some people project their emotions to the point it’s an almost tangible thing in the air… and that can be difficult to deal with.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Apr 13, 2012 @ 09:18:49

      You may have hit the nail on the head, Dana, about why my coworker was uncomfortable. I think I’m someone whose emotions tend to radiate outward from inside, whether I’m directing it at someone or not. It’s not just the negative emotions, either. People have been caught up in my happiness, or harriedness before, too. I’m not sure if there’s something I can do to make it radiate less; aside from repressing it, which I don’t want to do. So maybe that’s one of the instances where others need to own their part in the uncomfortable feelings.

      Congratulations on having learned how to express your anger in a healthy way! And thanks for stopping by.

      Reply

  3. Heather Haven
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 09:11:29

    Great blog and an even greater question. Anger, like everything else, needs to be handled intelligently. Unfortunately, because we live in a culture that likes anger to be swallowed, most people don’t learn how to be angry in a positive way. Anger can be a good thing. It can be beneficial, even. When you analyze what brought about the anger in a rational way, anger can be a problem-solving tool. What people often do, however, is take their anger out on those nearest, then feel guilty or usually, take their anger out on themselves. This leads to major health problems. Feeling overwhelmed by anger? Take a deep breath and then a walk. Sit under a tree or somewhere else in nature and ask yourself exactly why you are angry. Look for a solution, a solution that you can control, even if it’s just a letter written to a badly managed restaurant. Then write that letter. Do something positive with the anger, something over which you have control. It might be avoiding being in the same situation again. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best one. Anyway, that’s my two-cents.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Apr 13, 2012 @ 09:21:08

      And what a wonderful two-cents they are, Heather! Those are some excellent suggestions for handling anger in a healthy way.

      Thanks for stopping by today. 🙂

      Reply

  4. cminichino
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 10:59:34

    First, I cry, out of sight. Then when that turns into a headache, I stop and I write — either a letter to the offender (that may or may not get sent) or I change details and write the “incident” up as a scene or, more than once, an entire “fictional” short story.

    Thanks for this post, Alyx.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Apr 13, 2012 @ 11:11:30

      I often cry out of frustration & anger, too, Camille. Though, it’s usually when I’m frustrated with myself or with how much I have on my plate. I like your cathartic way of writing it out as a scene in a book. I’ve done that occasionally, too. But I also like to have what I call “mock conversations” with whomever I’m mad at. It’s essentially the same as writing the scene out, only it’s verbal. Your way, people probably don’t think you’re talking to yourself or your imaginary friends. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Camille. I’m glad you liked the post.

      Reply

  5. Maddy
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 11:26:24

    I think anger and frustration can often be confused in the overwhelming storm of emotion, but I warm to Camille’s solution.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Apr 13, 2012 @ 11:41:16

      You may be right, Maddy, that anger & frustration get confused; & let’s throw “upset” into that mix as well. Degrees like that are often open to interpretation, & can vary wildly from person to person. I guess that’s why I think it’s best that we each maintain responsiblity for our own emotions & interpretations of others’ emotions. If someone wants to be mad, I let them be mad (or whatever term they prefer to use). I don’t have to take it on myself & worry & fret if there’s something I can do to change it.

      Thanks for stopping by today.

      Reply

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