“SHAME ON YOU,” her daddy said as he towered over her. “Why did you get angry and hit her? Only bad girls behave like that. You should be ashamed of yourself! Go to your room.”
Becky was 4 years old and her playmate had taken her favorite doll and would not give it back. She was even taking off all the doll’s clothes and throwing them in the floor. Becky was desperate to protect her doll from the mean girl.
She did the only thing she knew to do, she yelled and grabbed for her doll. When her father entered, all he saw was the other child crying and his daughter yelling and in possession of the doll.
He did not bother to ask what had happened. He believed anger for any reason was wrong.
A few decades later, Becky sits in my office crying because she feels like a bad person for getting angry when people mistreat her. She learned that she is supposed to remain calm in every situation.
This is a common story. The details are different but the message is the same: it is wrong to be angry; anger is bad and if you feel anger you are bad.
Anger is misunderstood and mistreated. Anger can be your best friend, strongest ally and greatest motivator, if you have a good relationship with it and know how to use it in a positive way.
5 Values of Anger
1. Anger is a messenger:
Anger can be the first indication that something is not right. It lets you know that something is happening to you that needs to stop.
Are your boundaries being violated?
Do you have a need that is being disregarded by yourself or by others?
Has a person or idea that you value been compromised?
Has an old wound been activated and needs your attention?
These are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself in order to listen
to what the anger is trying to communicate to you.
2. Anger is necessary:
“I need to talk to you,” Susan wailed. “I have to stop being so angry at my husband. He is not working, but he just bought his daughter a plane ticket so she could go on vacation. I feel selfish and guilty.”
Susan needed to be angry. Her husband had refused to get a job for years, and she worked 50 hours a week to support them. The situation had not been discussed for several years. It was time for her to plan retirement. She needed to confront the situation and come to some agreement about how they were going to earn and spend money.
3. Anger motivates us and others to solve problems:
Susan had made sarcastic remarks to her husband about their financial situation, but she had never gotten as angry as she was at this time. The discomfort of her anger motivated her to look inside and admit to herself how dissatisfied she was. It gave her the energy and courage to confront her husband.
As her husband experienced the energy of her anger, he was forced to look at the situation and the discomfort his behavior was causing her. He was motivated to begin to cooperate with her and work toward a solution around the money situation.
4. Anger helps protect us when we are overwhelmed:
There are times when we find ourselves in situations which scare us or hurt us, and we need to have the resources to stay present and strong. If the feelings of fear and pain take control, we will not be able to take care of ourselves and or others in need. The fear and pain needs to be blocked until the situation is solved and there is enough safety to feel it.
In Susan's situation, she was able to put her fear of confronting her husband aside and talk to him.
5. Anger provides a sense of power and control:
The illusion of powerlessness is one of the major reasons people do not confront injustices and transgressions. When we are able to feel our anger and use it appropriately, it gives us confidence and energy to work toward positive change.
Learning to acknowledge and use anger has many benefits beyond these. When we can deal with anger as it arises, and use it to benefit ourselves and others, it becomes a force of positive power and change. Rather than being destructive, it is creative.
“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right
person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right
purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is
not easy.” – Aristotle
Are you ready to transfer your anger into a force for positive change? Call me at (919)881-2001. Just like I helped Becky and Susan with their anger, I can help you become friends with your anger.