Written by: Melanie Strand, CSAC, LPC-IT
Anger has many uses. It helps move us, change and motivate us. Anger protects our feelings, right? Anger protects us from being hurt…… correct? Anger creates space from others, so much so it can alienate us from the ones that we love the most. Anger isn’t ALL bad. It does do these things. We experience anger many times in a week, probably more than most of would like to admit, but it isn’t a bad feeling. IT is just that, a feeling. A feeling (like a thought) isn’t dangerous. That being said anger can cause distance and hurt the ones we love. So, what do we do about the anger that drives others away?
We can understand that when we are going 30 miles per hour it is a lot easier to turn around than when you are going 100 miles per hour. But, many times that is what we try, to stop when we are going 100. Nearly impossible for most. How do we catch our anger when we are going 30? Many times we don’t pay attention to the physical cues that our body is giving us. It could be that our heart starts beating a little faster, we feel a tightening in our chest, we might even get a lump in our throat. What signs is your body giving you to let you know that you are starting to go down the anger highway?
Recognizing that anger can’t exist on its own can be helpful to control anger. Anger is a secondary emotion. Think back to the last time you were angry. If you are honest with yourself, what were you truly feeling that was covered up by anger? Fear, unhappiness, confusion, jealousy, sadness and uncertainty are only some of the underlying emotions that people experience. It is kind of like an iceberg. The anger is the part of the iceberg that we see and under the surface are all these feelings that we are trying to cover up. We cover up these emotions for many reasons. One of the main reasons we do this is so we don’t appear weak. Does withholding these underlying emotions help or hinder you in your relationships?
The next time you feel angry try and identify your underlying emotions and express the feeling. Once you do you will likely see a change in the way others respond. What do you have to lose? Only anger……