I’m a huge advocate of accepting and having a dialogue with our emotions. At the core I believe the purpose of each emotion is to a) deliver a message and b) be experienced physically in the body. These steps aren’t necessarily chronical but simultaneous. For a set of emotions there’s a third crucial aspect which is c) (for the emotion) to be released. This means on our part as humans we need to a) receive the message, b) experience the emotion in our bodies and for a selected few c) liberate ourselves from the emotion. Can you figure out which emotions step c) needs to be applied to?
Unfortunately, most of us aren’t brought up with an “emotion” manual. Instead society and our culture has a somewhat deranged relationship with emotions. Early on we learn a sort of emotional favoritism, where some emotions are “good”, accepted and even rewarded. While other emotions are “bad”, shameful and punishable rather than fully perceived and looked into. One emotion that belongs to the later category is anger. Instead of peeking at the message behind the anger, letting the adrenaline rush it brings loose (without acting out) and then releasing it, avoidance strategies are commonly chosen. One popular way to deal with anger is to stuff it down (especially true for women) or using rationalization to go around it. What I often observe are excuses, individuals who are mad but “have no right to be”, “shouldn’t be” or “worse things can happen” and so on. Excuses like this are a pure invalidation of the anger and equal pressing a mute button to it. That is, until a limit point is reached and things boil over, do you know what I’m talking about? When seemingly small things cause a disproportionate emotional reaction is most likely a sign of persistently repressing anger.
On the other side of the same coin, we have those who handle anger through impulsive outbursts towards the trigger, passive aggression, defensiveness or projection (usually towards those with less authority like an employee or child). Although this group experiences their emotion, they’ve lost control to it and are channeling the anger in an unhealthy or harmful manner.
So, to sum things up we have those who won’t go near anger at those who get swallowed up by it. In both cases the purpose of the anger isn’t getting addressed. The a),b) and c) that I describe above is completely overlooked and therefore the whole point of the emotion is lost. If you identify with any of the responses to anger I’ve mentioned, what’s necessary is breaking the autopilot strategy and replacing it with a routine which fulfils the a),b), and c). Trust me, when you begin doing this your life quality will jump up a few notches.
Regardless of situation or circumstance, if you feel angry, you have the right to be angry. I mean that. The emotional reaction is always valid. Does this mean you should scream, yell and act aggressively each time you feel the anger hit? Obviously not. It’s all about finding a healthy outlet that’s suitable for you. What might this look like? Step one is to simply remind yourself of a), b), c) and catch yourself when attempting to go back to the old ways. Next, is to practically exercise the a),b) and c). How could one receive the message of anger, feel it in the body and set it free? In the next post I’ll share some examples and tips on how to deal with anger in real life, in hopes you’ll discover your unique and healthy strategy for when you’re bleepin angry.