Everybody knows what anger is, right? It’s an emotion. In fact, it’s a negative emotion, one that often explodes, even when you’re trying to get rid of it and not feel it. It’s a negative emotion that easily goes out of control, requiring you to monitor—and manage—it. Your father handled anger well; but your mother did not handle well at all. It’s part of your Irish heritage.
It’s an emotion that has troubled your family as far back as anyone remembers.
It’s part of being a redhead.
It’s something that your ADD allows to go out of control.
It’s an emotion that bubbles up when you least expect it, and is very difficult to control.
It’s behind wars. It’s an emotion men have more than women.
Most of what you’ve just read is actually incorrect. What is correct is that anger is an emotion. And that anger explodes when you’re trying not to feel it. Very little else is actually true, unless it fits your particular family history.
Here’s what’s not correct.
- Anger is not a “negative emotion”—there is no such thing, actually. Emotions turn “negative” when we hold them inside, allowing them to grow. All emotions, held inside, tend to grow.
- It’s not possible to “get rid of” anger. Anger is part of us, and cannot be banished.
- Anger often goes out of control; monitoring it will not stop this. What stops anger from going out of control is allowing it to move, through us (but not onto someone else).
- Managing anger is good….as far as it goes. When something is “managed,” it must be checked on, monitored, sometimes re-managed. When anger is mastered it takes its rightful place as a valuable tool and ally for our personal growth.
- Perhaps one of your parents did offer an effective model for feeling/working with anger and the other did not. Even if you handle anger ineffectively, just like that parent, you have not inherited a bad temper! You learned dysfunctional habits.
- If you’re Irish, a redhead or ADD (or anything else), this does not automatically make you more prone to anger. You’ve gotten permission to experience anger in dysfunctional patterns, and perhaps also had some poor models. Also, perhaps standing out in some way has felt frustrating or hurtful, which can lead to more anger.
- Many families do have difficulties with anger; as far back as anyone can remember. This is not “inherited” so much as learned. What is learned can be unlearned.
- For you, anger may bubble up when you least expect it. This is due to the fact that you don’t have enough information about the universal cause of anger, or pay enough conscious attention, to recognize what leads you to feel anger. This does not mean anger just happens; it means you don’t know the triggers for all anger and/or the specific angers you experience.
- Anger may be a primary emotion behind wars. Hurt and fear are more likely, however. Anger is a more acceptable emotion. What are we missing that we can’t get in charge of anger enough to shorten or eliminate wars?
- Watching carefully, you likely will see more men than women expressing anger. It’s more culturally acceptable for men to become angry. Women often express anger by crying, or may allow themselves to experience anger in privacy. Men and women are human beings; all human beings experience anger.
So What Is It?
- Anger is an emotion.
- Anger is energy.
- It is “energy in motion.”
- It is a particular form that energy takes.
- It is an energy signal that passes through the emotional centers of the brain (amygdala and hippocampus) and body (stomach, solar plexus).
- It is a helpful signal—often related to past events–giving feedback on our perspective and our need to take action.
- Anger is a friend, offering us vital feedback 24/7.
- Anger is a tool for encouraging us to change our ideas.
- Anger is a teacher, offering us opportunities to learn.
Why Won’t Anger Leave Me Alone?
If you asked your best friend to help you change a habit that has been pushing for you to change, would you prefer that friend to step back and allow you to follow your same old habits, or would you want that friend to point out to you, each time you “slipped,” that you need to adjust or change?
A really good friend you’ve asked for help won’t leave you alone. S/he will tirelessly point out your repetitive, debilitating habits, suggesting and supporting you to change.
Anger is such a really good friend. It doesn’t leave you alone. You came to this earth to grow and change; that was your part in “asking” anger to help you see where you hold incorrect pictures about “how things are” in this world.
Anger doesn’t leave you alone; it never leaves you. Anger takes every opportunity to point out the things you need to notice, work with and change. Honor this friend, Anger, by hearing and heeding its message. Your own life will be better; you will evolve; and you’ll become more emotionally balanced. Allow yourself to feel grateful to have such a dedicated friend!