Friday, November 26, 2010

Lessons on Life Series 3: Anger

It is very difficult for many people today to get in touch with their feelings. Sometimes it helps to close your eyes and put one hand on your stomach to help you get in touch with your feelings. We are so used to letting our minds dominate that we forget our feelings. Notice how many times you begin a sentence with "I think" rather than "I feel".

Anger tells us that we haven't dealt with our pain. Hurt is present pain, while anger is often lingering pain. As we gather these hurts and do not address them, our anger grows. We can accumulate so many hurts that it eventually becomes hard to sort them out and even hard to recognize that the anger is there.

When we turn our anger inward, it often expresses itself as feelings of depression or guilt. Anger turned inward and held internally distorts our perceptions of reality. All of this old anger becomes unfinished business not merely with others, but with ourselves. Many families avoid anger issues and skirt around them. But it is hard to forgive when you haven't dealt with the anger. The more anger you can let go of, the more forgiveness you are going to have.

Often anger has to do with underlying fears. Here are some examples of things people might say and what the underlying fear may be:

The anger: I'm angry because you weren't there.
The fear underneath: When your not there, I fear you are abandoning me.

The anger: I'm angry because of what you said.
The fear underneath: I'm afraid you don't love me anymore.

It's easier to keep rubbing in the anger than it is to deal with the fear, but it doesn't help solve the underlying problem. In fact, it often only makes the "surface" problem worse, for most people do not respond well to anger. Yelling at people rarely convinces them that they are wrong.

Our society feels that anger is bad or wrong , so we don't have healthy ways to externalize it. We are not familiar with how to talk about it or let it out. We stuff it, deny it or contain it. Anger is a normal reaction many times but we just need to learn how to express it so it can be received.

We are here to heal and move through our feelings.

Reference: Life Lessons by Elisabeth-Kubloer-Ross, Schribner, 2000.

Colleen Montgomery is an individual and couples therapist in Severna Park, MD which is located near Glen Burnie, Pasadena, Arnold, Millersville and Annapolis. She continues to feel blessed by helping people through their life's work. All people have struggles, relationship difficulties and lessons to learn. No one, no matter what profession, resides on Earth without difficult relationships and experiences. Counseling is not about giving others "advice" or "answers" as no one including therapists are free of challenges in navigating difficult waters. Counseling is about allowing you to be heard, reflected, and to discuss options and strategies to help you reach decisions that are best for you.

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