In Understanding Anger part 1 we looked at what emotions are for, the anger spectrum and what causes anger.
Today, we're going to look at how to use your anger to make positive changes.
Listening to your anger is so important, as it'll tell you that something's wrong.
As discussed in Understanding Anger part 1, you feel angry when an injustice is done, either to yourself or someone else.
So by listening to your anger and working out what that something is, you can do something about it - make a positive change.
Anger = positive change
This is why anger is such a useful emotion - anger brings about positive change. An injustice is done, you get angry, you make a change so it doesn't happen again.
Which sounds easy, and in many cases it is. But sometimes, it's not glaringly obvious what the REAL cause of your anger is, and this takes a little more exploration.
Let's look at some examples.
- Coffee: You work in an office, and someone keeps using your coffee without asking.
- Criticism: Your mother-in-law constantly criticises you
- Towel: your partner leaves wet towels on the bedroom floor
You work in an office and notice someone keeps using your coffee without asking.
This infuriates you!
Now, you might tell yourself not to be silly and a few spoons of coffee doesn't really matter, but stop and take a closer look at what's happening before you tell yourself you're being unreasonable.
If you explore your feelings around this, you'll see WHY it makes you so angry - it's rude, disrespectful and selfish, and disregards you and your property.
An injustice has been done - your coffee has been stolen and your feelings ignored, so therefore anger is a reasonable and natural response.
Therefore, you will make a change: Maybe you'll lock away your coffee, or suggest a coffee club where everyone contributes equally, maybe you send an email asking for people to stop taking your coffee.
...but you make a positive change that's beneficial to you.
You dread seeing your mother-in-law, as she always has some critical comment about your appearance, your house, your job - well, pretty much anything.
You feel frustrated.
Now you could tell yourself that you're a bad person and she's only trying to help, but before you tell yourself you're being over sensitive, take a closer look.
She is being passive aggressive and putting you down.
An injustice has been done - you are being attacked and your feelings ignored, so therefore anger is a reasonable and natural response.
Therefore you make a change.
You MIGHT choose to have a chat with her to tell you how you feel, but will she change? Possibly, but unlikely.
So in this case, the change comes from within you, and you change how you react to her, letting her critical remarks run like water off a ducks back.
This doesn't mean she's 'won', it means for the good of the family - and let's face it, she's going to be in your life for a long time - you have found a way to protect yourself from her critical words.
It's an internal change, but it's a positive change that's beneficial to both you and the family.
'Dealing with criticism' guide - a step by step look at how to handle criticism and increase confidence.
Your partner leaves wet towels on the bedroom floor. You've told him time and again to please pick them up, but nothing changes.
You feel infuriated.
You could tell yourself that you're being unreasonable, and that he's a good guy and you're just being too picky, but let's take a closer look at what's happening.
Let me just say this: It's not about the towel. It's never about the towel! It's about something else.
It's about not being listened too, it's about your needs being disregarded, it's about why he still does this when he knows it drives you mad. It's about why he'd deliberately do something to upset you when he says he loves you. That's what it's really about. It makes you question his feelings for you.
You need to make a change.
So forget the towel, and deal with the thing you are really upset about. In this case a conversation about what's happening in your relationship.
A conversation that starts with 'when see your towel of the floor I feel angry because my feelings have been disregarded'.
By tackling the real problem and not getting into a pointless discussion about towels and housework, you save time and then can make a positive change.
So taking time to explore what's really happening means you can focus more clearly on the issue. This not only stops the anger from turning inwards, which is bad for you, but it means you can both protect yourself and make positive changes.
Anger, when recognised, acknowledged and expressed well, can be a tremendous force for good, so it's time to stop fearing it, and time to start welcoming it.
It's easy to get in your own way when learning about yourself: you have blind spots, and the more soul searching you do and self help books you read, the more confused you get.
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