Last time, I asked whether you want to “manage” anger, or to really “master” it. A master is in charge, knowing how anger works, why you’re working with it, what to do to change it, its liabilities and benefits, and what to do if you don’t want to keep getting angry/frustrated/vexed/irritated the same old ways. Are you considering your answer? Even if you’re not ready to decide now, entertain the idea of someday becoming an “Anger Master”.
Let’s talk about what makes anger our most active emotion, and why that’s important in successfully handling anger.
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Anger—like all emotions—is “energy in motion.” When you hold emotional energy inside of you, it still moves around, affecting you in some way. We say that anger is our “most active” emotion because it is SO active when we hold it inside that its effects are quite destructive, in five powerful ways. Other emotions can be held inside with only a fraction of the negative consequences that result from holding onto anger. AND, anger “bleeds through” to your life more than any other emotions onto which you’re holding.
Let’s discuss a few of the five ways anger “processes” through us when we hold onto it.
First, held-onto anger negatively affects our minds, clouding our perception, stimulating quick defensiveness, developing a “chip” on our shoulder, and leaving us handicapped in how we see things, so we can respond objectively. Held-onto angers’ negative impact on our minds, can trap you into negative loops. Love may make you “twitterpated”; anger can leave you dissipated.
Second, held-onto anger undermines all 7 Building Blocks of Self Esteem. Taking Responsibility, for example, is impossible. To relate responsibly, we need to acknowledge, share and work with anger we feel. Holding anger inside requires us to run “perimeter patrols” around all of our emotions, so anger doesn’t escape or explode. When we’re doing this, we cannot take the responsibility of being authentic, sharing intimately, or for our choices. Like an addict, whose addiction becomes more important than the people s/he loves, the anger-harborer chooses anger over so anger authenticity, love, and intimate relating.
Third, anger sets the conditions for illness. Research shows anger is a part of a wide variety of illnesses and problems, including heart attacks, high blood pressure, alcoholism, obesity, stroke, asthma, autoimmune diseases, insomnia, low back pain, sexual dysfunction, and gum disease. Held onto long enough, anger can kill you.
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At work, held-onto anger creates relationship problems on all levels, slows production, creates bad working environments, stimulates absenteeism, and blocks creative problem-solving. At home, anger poisons relationships, subverts loving parenting, foments abuse, keeps us indebted, sucks our energy and enthusiasm, and makes us sick.
All of this means that anger can ruin your life. Unless we actively work to move anger’s energy out of us, anger poisons you, the “vessel” in which it is held!