Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How To Let Anger Work For You, Part 1, Causes

At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled. Marshall B. Rosenberg

The pot of spaghetti slammed onto the wall, and I watched my supper run down onto my clean kitchen floor. I stomped my feet in it, and then got a hammer and a box of nails and went outside to repair the backdoor screen through which I'd just thrown a chair. I already needed to buy a new lamp. The one I threw across the room last week was beyond repair.

That was me--way too often--for too many years when repressed anger broke down the dam and gushed through with a mighty force. I know about anger. When I was a child, I was forbidden to show anger. But it had to go somewhere, so it seethed inside, waiting until I became an adult and could let it loose. It was my enemy, uncontrolled and very painful.

Anger is a complex critter. When projected outward, it becomes destructive, sometimes even lethal. It can ruin relationships, careers, even property, as in my outbursts toward whatever inanimate object was within my reach when the monster reared up inside. Society tells us we shouldn't get angry, and if we do, we should just suck it up. As if stuffing it down somewhere inside is going to dissolve it. When anger is repressed, it can cause ulcers, blood pressure imbalance, heart disease, any number of illnesses. On my 30th birthday, I vowed to never have another angry tantrum. And I didn't. But then my anger turned inward and caused severe depression.

According to Marion Moss in her book, 'Removing Your Mask', anger is a specific form of fear at a deep level, and most anger shows that people's internal and external realities are not in balance. The real message of anger is almost always about one's own beliefs, perceptions, or actions in a given situation or with particular people, not the situations or people themselves. P 194-195.

Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath.  Eckhart Tolle  


So what causes anger? Where are you hurting?

Anger is often your response to a thought, idea or belief that you're being treated unfairly or threatened by someone or something--look what they're doing to me--or that you've fallen short of your own standards--I'm so stupid. I should have done better. These perceptions may be associated with self-esteem, a need to feel secure and safe, personal exposure, your own imperfection, loss of something tangible in your life, or something as simple as a need to be right. For some, being wrong means invalidation of self, but being right provides a false sense of power.

When a situation arouses an inner fear, you may perceive anger as a way to deal with the situation--sometimes just to let off steam like throwing a chair through a screen door. Some of your perceptions may be accurate, but lashing out in anger is not the answer.

Anger is a normal human emotion, and it can kill you or save your life, depending upon how you use it. But you must use it wisely for it to work for you or against you. Next week I'll go into some ways to tame the tiger and put you in control, ways to allow it to help heal your fears and grow in truth.

I wish you enlightening self-discovery.


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