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Hope For Tomorrow Counseling | Article

Anger

7/23/2014
Cleveland, I am coming home ! No so fast LeBron, remember how mad Dan is at you? Four years ago, LeBron James made Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, so angry, Dan wrote a letter mocking LeBron and published the letter on the Cavalier’s website for the world to read. Now, quoting Mr. Gilbert, anger fades but in the Internet world "posted" means "forever."

Therefore, what is anger and how do we get over it?

Anger is a normal human emotion that serves a purpose. Anger can tell us something is wrong, not acceptable or is a threat. Anger can be the motivation for change. Does that mean anger is good? Depends on how you react to the anger. There is a difference between feeling angry and acting angry. When you feel angry, you have three choices, to suppress the anger, to express the anger or to calm the anger.
We have all heard that suppressing, holding in, ignoring, or denying our anger is never healthy. Growing up you may have experienced someone who got angry. These experiences teach us that anger leads to violence, pain, hurt and abandonment. Studies have shown that suppressing anger can cause a physical reaction such as hypertension /high blood pressure and depression. Suppressed anger can cause you to have a negative outlook on life, to become critical, cynical, and/or passive-aggressive. The results of suppressed anger can make you unpleasant to be around and can have a negative impact on your relationships. Even though taught not to show your anger, suppressing it is not healthy.

Anger is a caused or secondary emotion; there are always other emotions underlying your anger such as fear, hurt, sadness, loneliness, powerlessness, hopelessness, grief/loss, shame or other emotions. Your anger can be about more helping you feel invulnerable by about pushing people away and saying you don’t need them. Your anger may be your way of expressing your need for comfort or support. If the underlying emotion or perceived threat becomes overwhelming, the anger may negatively erupt.

So how do we communicate our anger in a healthy way? The value of a healthy model for anger cannot be overestimated. I must stress here that because anger expression is a learned behavior, it is still very possible to acquire that learning even as an adult (in this case you really can teach an old dog new tricks.)

Unhealthy anger is when we engage in manipulation, resistance, withholding or avoidance as a way of communicating anger, we are expressing anger in an indirect and “passive-aggressive” manner. Sarcasm is also an indirect way of expressing anger veiled by humor. As mentioned above, criticism and cynicism can also be used as indirect ways of expressing anger. Anger can also be expressed in direct ways that are unhealthy – as physical or verbal (by words chosen and/or tone and volume employed) aggression.
When we express anger in a healthy way we are communicating our experience to another person in such a way that we are “owning” the experience as our own and still leaving room for others to have their own experiences. It is an honest and direct communication of our concerns in a way that is not intended to exert control over or make others feel bad. This is what is known as being assertive. Using I-statements (e.g., “I felt hurt when you didn’t call me back when I expected you to”) is a key aspect of assertive communication. When we are passive, we are essentially saying that “you are more important than me.” When we are aggressive, we saying that “I am more important than you.” When we are assertive, we are saying that “we are both important and deserve respect.”

The third approach is taking a second to understand the underlying emotion for the angry and calming the reason for the anger. Calming means to take control of the mental and physical energy that accompanies anger, allowing you the opportunity to make a more conscious and intentional choice in responding to the situation. By doing this, you increase the likelihood that you will be able to express your anger in a more healthy way. It provides you with an increased sense of internal control which then offers you the ability to take the time to further assess the situation and decide, not out of fear or hurt, if something still needs to be expressed. You can then also be intentional in how you decide to communicate the issue to others.

Gilbert in talking about his web posting realized "There were a couple of people who tried to talk me out of it. Frankly, I didn't put it in front of enough people. It was boom-boom, put it up. That's something I've learned. When you're in an emotional state ... wait.”