We live in a society were we label good feelings and bad feelings. Anger being in the “bad” list. We are not talking here about out of control or chronic anger. Just plain and simple anger we are all entitled to.
It’s OK to feel angry, in fact, it’s part of the range of feelings we all experience and we can’t avoid as much as we’d like to. Yet, many of us believe we are bad if we feel angry, that it’s not OK or normal for us to feel that way. We seem to be expected to be constantly happy, cheerful, and take life as it comes with a smile. Well, it doesn’t and it can’t work that way.
Why it’s OK to feel angry:
Holding on to tight to that anger is unhealthy, but anger can also be a healthy response to situations and people. It tells us what we don’t like, how we feel about people who have wronged us, and helps us figure out what we will no longer stand for. It helps us stand up for ourselves and set limits.
I’ve often felt guilty because I was angry at someone and then I didn’t do myself any favor by turning the tables and blaming myself because I thought I shouldn’t be angry. Allowing yourself to be angry and finding a solution to end the anger, is more proactive, than just being quiet about it and keeping it to yourself.
The problem is not being angry, it’s how you manage and express the anger. Talking to someone while in the throes of anger or writing a letter, may not be a great idea. Better postpone it till you are more settled and comfortable to confront the other person sensibly. I sometimes make the mistake of doing just that, blurting out my anger, since I have little impulse control, but I agree that when I allow myself the time for the dust to settle, I am more able to make sense and express my anger in a much more effective manner.
But feel we must. Just make sure you channel it right. I have found effective ways to manage and express my anger in proactive ways;
- Wait at least a few hours until you are ready to confront the situation.
- Talk to someone who is neutral.
- Go for a run, or exercise.
- Listen to music to calm down.
- Write down what you are feeling angry about.
- Write a letter you most probably won’t send.
- Do something creative. Draw, paint, cook etc…
- Watch an engaging movie, far removed from whatever is bothering you.
- Read something inspirational.
- The last, which I tend to do, is to go out for a long walk and find quiet time alone. Bookstores seem to do the magic. Find your calming spot.
Don’t try to cover up your anger. It will only get worse, deal with it, or in the end it will blow up in your face, or worse, in someone else’s who might not have anything to do with the issue in the first place!
The American Psychological Association in its story “When Anger is a Plus,” they explain that if the anger is justified and the response is appropriate, usually the misunderstanding can be effectively dealt with and corrected.
“Anger can be constructive when people frame it in terms of solving a mutual problem rather than as a chance to vent their feelings. “The question is not, ‘Should I express anger or should I suppress it?’ It is, ‘What can we do to solve the problem?'”
The A.P.S. adds that it’s helpful to understand that anger is contextual and social. That when anger fails to fill a constructive framework, it can morph into undesirable expressions of the emotion as anger that is externalized which can turn into violence and aggression; anger internalized can cause depression, health problems and communication difficulties.
Life is conflict, how we respond is our responsibility.