Thursday, August 25, 2011

GIFT of Anger

Often when we get angry at others we assume that it is they who made us angry, we have no other way of responding, and that when we express our anger they will reassure us and make us feel better.  More often when we get angry at someone they really only have two options, either "Well, good luck with that" as they really don't know what to do with us while we are angry, or "You're angry? What about me, I shouldn't have to put up with this, I didn't do anything to deserve this!" and we end up arguing about who has the right to be angry.

The reality is that anger is always a secondary emotion - we feel some other emotion because of our interpretation of the situation and because of that primary emotion we get angry.  When we express these softer underlying emotions then we invite the other person to help us is a more specific way.  It's the difference between expressing displeasure as a baby as opposed to as an adult - you can whine and cry and expect someone to magically know what is wrong and fix it or you can say, "Hmmm, I'm not feeling good.  I bet it is because I am hungry.  maybe I'll ask them for some food."  In the same way we can get angry and spew it on the other person or we can figure out what is underlying and express that and they can better respond.  Good way to remember the four most common underlying emotions - GIFT.

Guilt - often we feel bad about something we have done and instead of confessing or asking for forgiveness we lash out at the person who is a reminder of our fault.  They could be rubbing our nose in it or completely unaware of the transgression but our self anger gets leaked out on them.

Inferiority - sometimes we feel talked down to, less than, unimportant, not valued, or not chosen over other things and it makes us really angry.  If we can express this and ask for reassurance we are more likely to get it than the continued approach of spewing anger than just makes us seen as even more inferior.

Fear - many times we get afraid and the fight or flight response kicks in resulting in lashing out around us rather than expressing the fear and being soothed and reassured.  Many times people we love step on core fears of ours without even knowing it and get a bigger emotional response than expected when our fears of abandonment, rejection, or being controlled get triggered.

Trauma - this may be the most common, but rather than coming out and saying we are deeply hurt by the other person we lash out in revenge.   Saying you were disappointed or hurt may feel like admitting weakness but it's the only way to realistically get an apology and reconciliation.

Express the underlying emotions and the other person can do something with it, just express anger and you can expect either indifference or defensiveness.

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