Not a lot gets said publicly about anger, and it makes sense. Too often we’ve grown up in family’s where we didn’t discuss emotions on any level. No growing up with naming our emotions, no communication or conversations around clarifying our emotions with each other. In my family I was the drama queen a.k.a nicknamed Elizabeth Taylor because as a teenager I so desperately wanted to have those emotional conversations. My parents had no clue how to navigate those kind of emotional discussions. I was left leaving notes under their pillows hoping against hope they’d sit and read them with me and just have a chat.
Instead I was mocked, maybe even shamed, because I dared to want to talk about, I craved to understand, what was going on for me internally and what that meant inside our family. I’m incredibly grateful I can have those conversations with my own children who are now adults too. It’s vital, life giving vital, that we begin to not only have those clarifying conversations but also that we can first identify what is happening for us internally.
My goal with this post is to give you some groundwork information. Some of it may resonate, some not. Most important is for you to trust the process of reading through what is happening for you internally on different levels and be able to spend some time reflecting via the journaling questions at the end of the post. Why answer the journaling questions? These questions help us build our internal awareness then we are able to begin gaining courage to express them to those around us who are safe.
Anger can be a scary emotion. It’s not something we usually like to feel by any means, but does that mean it’s bad?
Short answer: no! Anger isn’t bad to feel. In fact, no emotions are bad to feel. They’re just feelings.
They give us information about ourselves (our needs, our wounds, our desires, our likes, etc) but they don’t define who we are. So having an emotion like anger doesn’t mean anything about what kind of person you are.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t have a positive relationship with our anger. It’s seen as a big scary thing. It can make us feel out of control or mean. It can lead us to emotional outbursts that make us feel fragile or embarrassed. But anger doesn’t have to be a threat or our enemy. It, like our other intense feelings, can be a tool we use to discover more about ourselves.
To help you with that, we’ve listed four journal prompts to get you started exploring your relationship with anger below:
There are as many reasons to be uncomfortable with anger as there are people, so you really have to be specific to yourself here. Don’t think about anger in general, think about the experiences you’ve had with anger throughout your life. That can be experiences you’ve had feeling angry, or perhaps experiences you’ve had being on the receiving end of someone else’s anger. What happened then? How does your anger feel when it comes up? What about that is frightening? Do you feel like it will cause you to lose control or lash out? How have you experienced other people’s anger? Has someone else’s poor anger management made anger seem scary to you? Explore the root of your fear of anger, safely, in your journal.
What triggers this feeling? If you can start to explore when you’re feeling angry the most, you can start to learn what it is your anger is trying to communicate with you. For example, if you frequently find yourself getting angry at work, think about what specific instances caused that angry feeling to flare up. There might be a pattern that can help you address your currently unaddressed needs.
Once you’ve noticed those patterns, it’s time to try to understand them. Imagine your anger is trying to say something to you. (Or, possibly, yell something at you). What is it it’s trying to yell? It’s probably trying to point out something important.
For example: You’ve noticed yourself getting angry every time you speak on the phone to a certain friend. Now that you’ve started to pay attention to it, you realize that that anger flares up every time they speak over you or minimize what you’re saying. When you feel yourself getting angry in that situation, imagine your anger is actually there to watch over you. What it’s trying to get you to acknowledge is “I deserve to be listened to! What I have to say matters!”
This reframing can help shift your relationship with your anger from something frightening and uncomfortable, to something positive. Then you can find healthy ways to manage your anger when it comes up.