Understanding Anger Part 1
The anger management module has been on my mind so I decided to explore the subject of ‘Anger’ further while I put the program together.
“Anger is like a howling baby, suffering and crying. The baby needs his mother to embrace him. You are the mother for your baby, your anger. The moment you begin to practice breathing mindfully in and out, you have the energy of a mother, to cradle and embrace the baby. Just embracing your anger, just breathing in and breathing out, that is good enough. The baby will feel relief right away.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh
I think Anger is a very normal emotion; everyone has a bit of anger in them as they have the emotions of love and joy. The difference, being that no one gets into trouble for feeling love, joy or any other happy emotion, instead I have noticed people— friends, family, colleagues etc—start spending more time around you wanting to share in your state of calm and peace. However, the minute the thunderclouds start rolling in, the crowds’ start thinning and seldom are you left with anyone around you. As a child and young adult who had a ‘temper’ I was made to feel like there was something severely damaged in my head. That I was not a normal being but more like a being that had to try and be normal.
So why do we all dislike it some much? I think because it makes us feel terrible, and we also realize (mostly in the aftermath) that it makes people around us feel terrible as well. It’s like coming out of a perfume store and walking past an unclean public toilet. Nothing can prepare us for the wave of revulsion that rises within our being, wanting us to take the respective sanitary in-charges to court or taking a picture and plastering it with some witty words on social media etc etc.
The key here is the feeling of revulsion. Just like no ones wants to go near that place ever again, even if a sign saying ‘this toilet smells beautiful’ is hung outside the door, no one wants to go near this emotion. Sadly like the civic body that supervises that public toilet, this emotion and the human being attached to it is condemned to hell, with a sign outside the gate ‘ Danger, Angry person, proceed with Extreme Caution’. We are seen and in time see ourselves as defective threads in the already fragile knitting of human relationships. However, instead of being quick to condemn others or ourselves, we pause and try and dig a little deeper, we will start seeing the reasons for these volcano eruptions.
It took me quite a few years of working with this emotion to realize that there was nothing wrong with me. I would ‘loose-it’ not because it was my favorite pastimes but because of some reasons. One of the most common was the inability to communicate my needs effectively which would lead to the frustration of them not being met, and eventually leading to my spewing hot lava. I grew up with my needs being dictated to me and any resistance on my part would often lead to being beaten or a verbal lashing. I eventually became fearful of voicing what I wanted. Later in life I would often end up getting angry in such situations because:
- I would not feel confident to say what I wanted to say
- I would assume that the other person would stamp all over my needs
- I would already start feeling fearful and feel the need to protect my needs and myself.
Some other reasons were my ego and pride, inability to take constructive criticism, lack of self-esteem and self-worth. All of these have their own inner workings and I plan on writing more about what I learnt from working with them in separate blogs.
I believe we all have our own triggers that bring up this powerful energy that can cause us to explode and frankly it’s absolutely normal and okay. Sometimes we need anger to help us resolve a situation. When I understood this and worked on my triggers I would still get angry but my reasons started changing—It became a question of whether I chose to use my anger to help me resolve something vs. anger itself feeling it needs to rescue me and keep me safe.
The first step that helped me understand my triggers was to pause when I felt my anger rising, shut my mouth before I ended up saying anything hurtful and ask myself some questions—Why was I getting angry? What in this situation was really pissing me off? What were my needs that are not being met? If you are you are on the journey of understanding this emotion—for yourself, or someone else. I invite you to start with these questions or if reading this helps you identify one of your own root causes, then start with what you get, with a motive to find and work through the triggers of these nuclear reactions.
If you feel you need some support on the way, you can click here to write in to me and I will schedule a session for you. The anger management program will be announced once I have all the nuts and bolts in place but till then you can explore other ways of working with us and find out more about how we can help you.