The Truth About Anger

The truth about anger

The truth about anger

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the truth about anger.

First a quick update:

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Now, let’s talk about the truth about anger.

Anger is a highly misunderstood emotion.

It is automatically labeled as a negative emotion.

Anger is often an initial response to the feeling or belief that you have been hurt, wronged or that you didn’t get what you want (i.e. experiencing rejection, loss, missed opportunities and so forth.)

Is anger, though, always negative?

Of course, we all know that anger can be destructive – it can lead to acts of violence, abuse, hurtful words and so forth.

However, anger can also be productive when channeled correctly and appropriately. We speak about and refer to “righteous indignation” when we know that an injustice has occurred.

We use that anger to drive us to stand up and protect the weak, innocent or frail from the bully.

The oppressed black people of South Africa drew upon anger to fight back against the cruel laws and inhumanity during the period of the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela – the movement to end Apartheid.

Throughout history there have been many such examples where anger has been used to bring about balance during times of injustice, but what about personal anger?

What about anger in relationships?

What about angry people?

What is their motivation?

With the exception of the above cited examples of righteous indignation and anger that is driven by injustice, almost all of the anger we feel and often direct at other people is actually anger we feel towards ourselves. And if we choose not to acknowledge that anger or if we choose not to channel it correctly, we then turn it inwards and we can become isolated, depressed, apathetic, hopeless and helpless.

Let me explain by sharing some examples.

Do you know someone who just seems to be an angry person; someone who is volatile or easily explodes?

Singer Chris Brown has had a string of problems with the law because of his anger which has resulted in various acts of violence. Chris Brown is obviously an angry person, and he seems angry at the world.

However, he is actually angry at himself.

When Chris Brown was a child, his father would abuse his mother.

Chris has openly said that he is very angry at his father and many times wanted to use a baseball bat to hit his father for the abuse his father committed against his mom.

Yes, Chris grew up resenting his father.

However, like many victims of childhood abuse, the anger that Chris feels towards his father (and the world) stems from the subconscious feelings of helplessness and powerlessness he felt as a child – helpless and powerless to stop his father; helpless and powerless to protect his mother and self.

Another client of mine experienced the same thing – anger and violence against the world his entire life – until in his forties when he came to see me and I helped him to forgive his father and forgive himself for not being able to protect his mother and stop his father from abusing her.

Here are a few more examples:

A client of mine complained about his girlfriend. He had behaved badly towards her and said some hurtful things. However, he apologized to her and when she questioned and requested reassurance from him about his future behavior, he responded by becoming angry at her, arguing that he had apologized twice but still she couldn’t accept his apology.

As he and I further explored his anger, it became evident that his real anger was towards himself – he expected himself to be perfect (he believed that it is bad to make mistakes) and when she refused to immediately accept his apology, it reinforced his belief that he isn’t perfect and therefore he is bad – and that thought of self-hatred made him angry.

Here are yet two more examples of this principle that almost all of our anger is often truly directed at ourselves.

Another client was angry with his friend because she was often late or missed appointments. As we explored further the root of the anger at her, we discovered she was actually angry at herself for failing and fearing to stand up to her friend and form a boundary; my client was afraid to speak up and say “If you want us to continue to be friends, you have to show up on time.” Again, beneath the anger were other emotions; in this case fear – fear of conflict, confrontation and rejection. There was also an underlying belief that her own feelings were not important and thus she was also angry at herself for allowing people to disrespect her.

Here are a few simple pointers to help you to get to the truth when you are experiencing anger. Ask yourself these questions:

  1.  “If I were angry at myself, what would I be angry about?”
  2. “What am I really feeling here?” (Remember, anger is a surface emotion; there are always more emotions beneath the anger; consider exploring emotions such as helplessness, fear, self-doubt, powerlessness, etc.)
  3. “Of what past experience or memory does this remind me? Is there a pattern here?”
  4. “What does this person trigger in me? What does he/she reflect in me?” (Explore beyond anger and look for beliefs and emotions)

An underlying theme in my work with clients is personal responsibility as a means to emotional freedom. And when you are willing to accept personal responsibility for all emotions and responses (including anger), then you can truly be set free by gaining control over your emotions, eliminating and transforming counter-productive beliefs, and healing your relationships.

You can also learn more ways to respond to anger by reading this article: “Running from anger”.

And if you need help to gain emotional strength, consider a one-on-one private session with me. Watch the video here.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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