Anger Is Not a Four-Letter Word


It’s never displayed in polite company. And it’s almost always frowned upon. Anger is one of the most powerful yet least understood emotions. Even in 2000, we aren’t sure how to manage it!

The Problem
Anger is like a natural resource: It can be horribly destructive if misused. We women are particularly encouraged to suppress our anger, and to view it as bad.

So as we mature, we become afraid that people won’t like us, that we will be considered “unladylike” or that we will hurt others’ feelings if we express our anger. To complicate matters further, society is still quick to label an angry woman as emotional, or worse yet, hormonal!

The Result
Most women learn to swallow their anger — and become passive. As a result, they feel weak and powerless. Others repress their anger until they explode, alienating those around them.

Both of these responses are unhealthy — emotionally and physically. Anger turned inward becomes depression. Lashing out at others destroys relationships. And research has demonstrated that repressed anger can cause headaches and digestive problems and may also be linked to more serious illnesses.

The Reality
Ignorance continues to foster the notion that anger is a bad thing. Actually, our anger is a normal and necessary emotion. It is there to let us know that someone or something has injured us or has violated our boundaries. If we didn’t receive anger signals, we would be unaware of real or perceived harm, and thus unable to protect ourselves.

So the feeling of anger is there to help us.

The problem is what we do with anger. When it is inappropriately expressed, it becomes a negative force. And since most of us are never taught how to express anger constructively, we end up using it to our disadvantage.

How do we harness this emotional resource, and make it work for us?

The Solution
Accept that your anger is normal, and let it be there — This will take some practice, but only by permitting yourself to feel angry will you be able to determine the cause of your upset.

Figure out what your anger is trying to tell you — Your anger has surfaced in response to some threat, real or perceived. Take some time to determine its cause. Is it reality-based? If not, recognizing this will help you to cool down. Some deep breathing, a walk or a good laugh will help restore you to a state of calm.

Determine how you will address the cause of your anger — If you have figured out that your anger is valid, think before proceeding! In some circumstances you might decide that expressing your dissatisfaction will do more harm than good. In other cases, you will need to take action. If the step to be taken is nonverbal, determine when you will take it, and refuse to further dwell on the issue in the present.

If you speak, think first — Rather than pointing the finger at the offending party, simply say, “I feel angry because you … ” Owning your feelings about what has occurred allows the other person to hear you without becoming overly defensive. Finally, don’t attack the person, address the issue. Most of the time, people don’t intend to be hurtful and are unaware that they have angered you. By attacking the issue, you allow the other party to save face and avoid becoming defensive.

Implementing these steps won’t be easy. You have years of programming and experience to overcome. But realizing that anger is healthy, and that there are constructive ways to express it will immediately lighten your load!

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