Some Simple Facts About Anger

ANGER IS A FEELING— There is a difference between feelings and actions. As a man, you have learned to emphasize action over feelings. In order to deal more effectively with your anger, you must separate the emotion of anger from feeling like you have to act it out in any way, on others or on yourself. Although I will give you some ideas on how to focus and discharge your anger, there really is no need to do anything when you are angry other than feel it. It may take something as simple as stating, "I am angry," to take some of the excess charge off.

FEELING ANGRY DOESN'T MEAN YOU ARE RIGHT— Just because you feel angry at any given moment doesn't mean that you are right. This one is difficult, because we so love to be right. Yet getting on a position, adamantly believing that no matter what, you are right, can lead to even greater hostilities, destructiveness, and violence. Wars are started because of at least two people thinking they are right and the other fellow is wrong. When you feel angry with someone, remind yourself that not only is your anger simply a feeling, but that you don't have to remain righteously positioned with your anger.

FEELING ANGRY DOESN'T MEAN THE OTHER PERSON HAS TO CHANGE— We have learned so many ways to use anger to manipulate and control. If I growl at you then perhaps you will feel bad and stop asking me questions. If I get angry and withdraw from you then you will likely feel bad for refusing to have sex with me. Perhaps I will get angry and pout for several days, to manipulate you into feeling badly about your having been upset with me. By using your anger to manipulate and control, not only do you alienate others but you are playing out an adult version of a spoiled brat. If this is an issue for you, keep in mind that while you can certainly express your anger cleanly to another person, to try to use this very energized emotion to control them is a bastardization of genuine feeling.

ANGER AND RAGE ARE NOT THE SAME— They are certainly related, however. Anger, when it is cleared of all manipulation and righteousness, is actually quite energizing and can often provoke and inspire action. When you are angry, the message that you're communicating can be delivered quite forcefully. Anger can help you set clear boundaries. There are other times when it feel good to let go in a burst of anger, not directed toward someone, but as a release of your frustration. Anger can motivate to action.

Rage, on the other hand, is primal. When you spontaneously and unconsciously age regress to an earlier time of raw emotional energy, this is rage. It is the unmet anguished cry of a child in need, explosively delivered energy, unfocused and volatile, ready to leap in violent upheaval at the first available target. Rage can do damage. If acted out uncontrolled and unfocused, it can lead to violence and destruction. While not at all necessary to deny your rage, what is useful is to learn to tap into it and express it in a focused, cathartic way. In close association with rage is a deep sense of helplessness. A cathartic expression of this rage often reduces the sense of helplessness.

BEHIND MOST ANGER IS A WANT— If you are angry with someone, ask yourself what it is you want from them. Quite often, you will find that there is some way that you want them to act differently, or to give you something, or something else that you want from them. For instance, if you're mad at your friend because he isn't listening, you want him to listen. The next step is then to ask for what you want--to listen to you. Keep in mind that you may not get what you want. If you don't then you must decide whether to try to control him by staying angry, or tell him how you feel about his behavior, or set boundaries if he continues with that kind of behavior.

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