Last month, the topic of feelings/emotions was introduced, looking at why feelings are sometimes misidentified, some common facts and fallacies about them and what the purposes of feelings are.
Humans experience four primary emotions. They are anger, fear, sadness, and love. Does that surprise you? All the other feelings are degrees or variations of these four. This month, we’ll focus on the emotion of ANGER.
The features of anger vary from mild (annoyance) through to extreme (rage). Let’s have a look at some of them:
- Envy (wanting something/someone that belongs to another)
Anger is one of the emotions with which many people have difficulty. This may be because:
- It has been used in intimidation, bullying, aggressive and/or violent behaviour.
- It was labelled as “bad”, “sinful”, “evil”.
- No one ever showed anger so that emotion was never identified.
- Family rule/message might have been “Peace and harmony above all else” or something similar that squashed any indications of someone being angry.
- It got mislabelled as something else that was more “acceptable” to the family for example hurt, disappointment.
- It has been building for so long, it seems like it would be uncontrollable, uncontainable, never ending if ever acknowledged.
Let’s have a look at how this emotion might get a bad reputation. Here are some examples of rules/messages with some possibilities of resulting beliefs and thinking.
Rule/message: “Harry’s temper always gets the best of him.”
Resulting belief: Anger is something that is dangerous.
Subsequent thinking: “I can’t get angry because there will be bad consequences.”
Rule/message: “God will punish you if you are angry” or “You must forgive and not hold grudges.”
Resulting belief: Anger is sinful, evil.
Subsequent thinking: “Peace at all costs” or “I’m not angry; I’m disappointed.”
Rule/message: “Don’t you dare raise your voice!” or “Control yourself!”
Resulting belief: Anger is not allowed.
Subsequent thinking: “I must appear in control at all times.”
What are some of the rules/messages about anger that you were given? Can you identify what beliefs were formed out of those? As we go through the Life Experience Chain, you will see how this results in destructive behaviours such as criticism, gossip, sarcasm, revenge, withdrawal to name a few.
PURPOSE OF ANGER
Anger is the emotion that says “something is wrong.” It arises when there is mistreatment, abuse, cruelty, physical or emotional harm, bullying, harassment, injustice, unfairness.
You need to know what emotions feel like in your body because:
- it is one way that the emotion can be identified from the other emotions especially if an emotion has not been allowed or has been misidentified.
- it will help when we look at how to manage triggers.
When the mind says that “something is wrong”, the brain will send out the message to fix it. The body will respond by getting into a “fight mode”. The first response is usually in the gut… a sensation of surging power and energy, spreading up into the muscles of the back, shoulders and rushing through the body. That’s why we get expressions like “I was so mad I nearly exploded”. The heart beat and breathing increases causing flushing of the face and tingling in the extremities. Often the eyes will narrow with dilated pupils, causing concentrated focus.
Anger is your friend, not your enemy. You will see this more clearly as we work through the links in the Life Experience Chain, examining triggers, choices and behaviours. You will learn how to identify the feeling of anger from the other emotions and how to properly let anger do the work it is intended to do.
As a child, you were not responsible for the rules and messages you received about the feelings of anger. You do have a choice as an adult about changing those. You have the right to change them into helpful and manageable feelings that validate and empower you.
Choose today to start making changes. Change will occur as you continue to:
- Properly identify the emotions you feel.
- Begin to use them as they were designed to be used.
- Start to act on these new responses.
painful, intolerable FEELINGS helpful, manageable
illogical, self-defeating THOUGHTS logical, self-enhancing
irrational, damaging BELIEFS rational, healing
unhealthy, dishonouring healthy, trustworthy
given to me as a CHILD RULES AND MESSAGES created by me as an ADULT
Judith S. Carscadden