Updated: Nov 18, 2020
I am part of the problem of destructive responses to feelings of anger. I have struggled to contain feelings of anger in my life. This secret is something I am ashamed of. Sharing it with you, allows me to be known and makes the secret a part of history. I am sorry for my mistakes and thank you for helping me contain them.
Specifically, the length of time between me experiencing anger and deciding what to do can be short. Flashes of anger followed by flashes of behaviour. My destructive behaviour has been words that seem to come from deep down or symbolic actions. All my decisions but those words and actions have been destructive to what I want to do when I am not angry. That makes me part of the problem of destructive responses to anger. So to take responsibility for my part in this problem this blog will describe my experience, and choices, in order for me to be part of a change.
My emotions while writing this blog included anger at feeling I have to write this blog (when actually I am choosing to do so.) Sadness and anxiety about losing emotional control, relief at admitting it and happiness about possibly having more control in the future. These feelings communicate how important this issue is for me. So my motivation to change how I deal with my anger is strong. A need transformed into an asset.
When do I get angry?
I know I experience anger when I believe other people are not taking responsibility. I know I can't force other people to take responsibility but perhaps I would like to or imagine I would feel better if I did. My anger is also a distraction from the parts of my life I am not taking all my personal responsibility. A problem, in me and others, I have written about elsewhere.
Another trigger for me is when I feel pushed into a corner and unable to escape. A combination of injustice and helplessness. My actions in response may be directed at challenging the existential realities of helplessness, solitude and mortality. To regain a sense of control in the face of these enormities. As if I would not be doing so by naming my experience, its strength, and recognising the commonality of these experiences.
I know sometimes I want to strongly communicate my anger. To rid myself of it. To push the anger out of me and into, or onto, someone or something else. I know part of me wants to act in dramatic ways and impact on other people. To feel things strongly and get a reaction to feel alive. These have not always been constructive responses.
Constructive alternative uses for my anger.
Anger is information about the difficulty, for me, of the situation we find ourselves in. In this way it could become a motivation to act and change on my part. Remembering that I am always part of the problem and that I may be able to do something about that. Developing the skill of expressing anger in little bits. Accepting the loss of a comforting fantasy about other people. Assertiveness in other words.
A tutor once told me in therapy we help 'sad' people feel a bit more angry and 'angry' people feel a bit more sad. So another choice, for me, is to experience the loss as well as the anger in each situation. Recognising both aspects of my experience. It is now clear to me there are many constructive choices for me when I am feeling angry.
I could develop healthy physical expressions of anger. Remembering the crucial difference between play fighting and real fighting. The lower chance of people being badly hurt. This may help because I wonder if part of the function of my anger is to deal with physical tension. These different containers could reduce my level of distress. Anger could also become a prompt for me to make a decision.
I could choose to act, using the energy anger provides. Act to change the internal and/or the external environment that prompted the anger in the first place. Acting in response to angry feelings could become a conscious test of my environment. So if I am unsure about what I can change, I can try and change it. Finding out how things really are. Then grieving the loss of my imagined control and engaging with the responsibility of that which I have.
Anger: an emotion like any other
I know I am part of a wider problem of destructive responses to anger. I have struggled to contain my anger constructively in my life. I know some of what makes me angry and the choices I have when feeling like that. My angry feelings don't have to be destructive to me or anyone else. Anger can become, for me, an emotion like any other. An asset that can be used constructively for my and other people’s benefit. Thank you for reading about my experience. I am interested to hear yours.