In my last post I mentioned that we have a tendency to fear “negative” emotions.
I had a bit of a personal revelation around this very thing not long ago. I had always judged anger to be bad, both in myself and in others. I was comfortable with sadness but not with anger.
Anger to me was always scary. I was scared of it in others because I didn’t understand that it had nothing to do with me.
Someone else’s anger may’ve been directed at me, but it wasn’t my fault that they were angry. Not to say that I didn’t do something to make that person mad, I’m sure that I did. But I didn’t understand that I wasn’t responsible for their anger. I was responsible for whatever mistake I made that made them mad but not for their anger. And I didn’t understand that their anger wasn’t really at me. Anger is less of an emotion than it is a reaction; it’s the result of fear. It’s a defense mechanism. It’s internal. It really has very little to do with the other person.
I was also scared of anger in myself because I was afraid that it owned me, that it meant that I wasn’t in control.
I didn’t understand where all of that anger was coming from or how to manage it. I didn’t understand that it was the result of my own fear. My anger is often my fear of failure, my fear of not being heard, of being inconsequential, of being judged by others, and of not being good enough.
I’ve come to realize that it’s not about not being angry, it’s about not being afraid.
As I’ve come to understand all this better, anger no longer scares me. I know now that anger is just an emotion. A reaction. Part of being human. It doesn’t mean that I am bad or that anyone else is bad.
It’s okay to get angry sometimes, but there are certainly less than ideal ways to express ones anger and that’s the hard part. It’s not the emotion itself that causes problems as much as the negative things that are done in the expression of anger. But the more we suppress it the more it builds up and the harder it becomes to control. For me, anger management isn’t about not getting angry. It’s about not acting on my anger.
I learned that the power is not in the emotion itself but in how we react to it. That’s where we have a choice. This is where I’m still doing a lot of work.
I’m prone to angry outbursts but I am working really hard to not take my anger out on those around me. My process is acknowledging the anger, allowing myself to feel it, understanding what it is and where it’s coming from – that takes the power away from it giving me an opportunity to take a deep breath and then not unleash it on others. It’s definitely still a work in progress.
I’m not perfect, and I’m not trying to be – but I am trying to be better. Not better than anyone else, just better than I was yesterday. Being better no longer means trying to never get mad. It means looking my anger in the face, embracing it and letting it go.