Last week we discussed anger. So you know now when it's disavowed we get into all sorts of problems. I know you want healthy loving relationships and a rocking career that soars to new heights, so let’s sort this out together.
Do you feel constantly in a state of annoyance and pissyness? Or do you know someone who is?
This is a sign that you have disowned your anger. It can sound silly to talk about minor things that can get you a little nutty, like sitting in traffic and stubbing your toe... but actually that perpetually state of pissyness or annoyance is simply NO FUN for YOU, and it can wreak havoc in your life in all sorts of seemingly unrelated ways. It may seem like no big deal, but besides it not “feeling good” it’s coming from somewhere that perhaps you haven’t examined. I’m confident that you can get yourSELF back by turning this emotion into assertive empowerment that'll work for you and not against you. I’ve got 4 awesome questions at the end that’ll help you get more clarity.
As women, we’ve been socialized to be “nice” and “polite,” so a lot of us have an unhealthy relationship with anger. This is not your fault.
Sometimes it comes out passive-aggressively like we discussed last week. Or it gets denied, hidden and repressed all together, until that big explosion occurs and takes everyone by surprise, even you. And then you feel bad, and anger gets an even worse rep in your mind. Anger gets suppressed again, until the next time. The cycle repeats.
Many in our tribe go through this dance because of the combo of learning that you shouldn’t be angry and that it’s your job to keep everybody happy. No small feat. Actually it’s an impossible. That’s why when you go out on a limb for someone, and you don’t get that in return you feel extremely hurt. And as a defense, anger comes out because you’ve felt hurt, “way too many times.” Why feel that vulnerability when you can use anger to feel more strong under the circumstances.
You have to remember that it doesn’t matter what people think about you. You can never control that. What matters the most is what you think about you.
People pleasing comes from trying to “please” someone, or make them feel “good,” or make them “like” us, or “not be mad at us.” But we can’t control what other people think or feel EVER, no matter how hard you try. Even if you bend over backwards trying, someone is not going to be pleased at some point.
So why not try and please yourself first?
When I first say this to many of my clients mending themselves around the pains of perfectionism and people pleasing they tend to balk at this notion. They think it’s selfish. But when you get mad at other people for taking care of themselves when they refuse to take care of you what happens? You may cry and be called, “too sensitive,” or you may get angry and be told that “it’s all your fault,” after all “you’re the angry one,” so you’re told.
People pleasing never works, because you abdicate yourself and your needs.
I’ve never spoken with one person who truly feels good about sacrificing their own needs, even if they act like it’s a noble thing to do, which it’s not. So when you’re in the comfort bubble of pleasing, because that’s how you were conditioned to behave, and that bubble gets popped because you’re not getting the same in return, you feel angry, then you get shamed or shame yourself for being angry.
Remember, “little girls are not supposed to be angry they’re supposed to be nice.”
This is a total conundrum. You can’t be angry, you can’t be hurt, and you can’t have expectations.
No wonder it’s a challenge to have a healthy relationship with anger. But maybe it doesn’t need to be. You can take responsibility for every thought and every feeling you have no matter what. That doesn’t mean you’re perfect at it, it means you do your best. This is where self-understanding and compassion come into play. You must stop judging yourself for your anger, for your hurt, and take a look at it with compassion.
There’s nothing wrong with you for having anger, it’s a basic human emotion.
And there’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t yet know how to manage anger in a healthy way. I understand if you’re fretting about this, because the conditioning to be “good” can be so strong, it’s gets subconsciously acted out a lot of the time. This may be why it’s easy to take care of others, except when you resent it, but hard to take care of yourself, AND why you may feel guilty for taking care of yourself.
And so it goes, you react to the little things, the toilet paper role left empty (even if by yourself), until the day you explode with road rage and scare yourself because you actually considered slamming into the car that just cut you off.
This is what happened with Susan from last week’s writings. She reported in our mini session that when she’d skipped Thanksgiving with family to spend time with Kurt, her new guy, only to have him ghost her when she returned to her hometown and she was really upset. She said that she tried to “stay strong, not be angry, not be sad, not to blame or feel sorry for myself, but it bubbled up that day in the car and with all that road rage, I realized I needed to do something about this now.”
She wasn’t allowing much emotions here. When I asked her about it we had to dig a little to identify that she was feeling disappointment, sadness, shock and anger…but not allowing herself to feel or process them.
Denying that she should feel any of them, because she was supposed to “be strong.” She said the anger was especially hard, because she was taught that anger wasn’t acceptable and was unattractive. She was already feeling rejected and so to allow herself to feel angry on top of that was somewhere she was not prepared to go. Self-compassion will be the key as she works towards allowing anger and other emotions without severely judging herself.
We can’t deny anger, it’s there, it’s present and that’s ok. You can learn to mange it in a way that’s in alignment with your values and how you’d like to show up authentically in the world, in circumstances you deem good or bad.
The only real option is to take care of your needs.
To look at your hurt, your anger, do the work you want to do on yourself to make the changes you want to make— selfishly for you. All the while really understanding that you cannot “please or make anyone happy, or sad or make them like you.” If they’re not pleased, don’t like you or whatever, it’s never about you. People feel the way they’re feeling because of their own thoughts. And it’s the same for you. No one can make you happy, sad, or angry, but you and your thoughts.
Has anyone every told you they’re in love with you, but you were not so interested. You didn’t feel loved, just because they told you they were in love with you. Interesting to think about, huh? No one can insert a feelings inside another.
When you realize this you take all your power back. You process anger, disappointment and perhaps getting ghosted, without hurting yourself further with judgement about how you feel. You took a chance and that’s ok. Sometimes it’ll work and sometimes it won’t, but if you have your own back you can learn to deal with any circumstance and not make it mean something bad about you. You can learn to process any emotion, even anger.
This is good news because it’s means you’re not a victim in all of this, you’re actually empowered to think and feel the way you want instead of “hoping that someone else will try and please you back.” If they do great. If they don’t ok, but you get to decide what to do with that. You get to decide what your deal breakers are, and what you’ll choose to think differently about. You have choices and options always.
The problem is when we have an unhealthy relationship with anger it comes out in ways that disempower you and cause shame. So let’s change that. Anger is just an emotion. Regardless of what you were taught about anger and/or how you’ve dealt with it in your life so far... You CAN understand anger AND actually become empowered by it. It's just a signal that you need to pay attention to something important.
For some of us, when we were growing up anger was forbidden OR anger was very common — with lots of acting out in one-way shape or form. In either case, this can and usually does result in developing an unhealthy way of managing anger. And this means that most of us have never received healthy modeling for anger. As adults, it’s now our job to get really clear about how anger is playing out in our lives and why— which will become more clear when you answer the questions below.
Five question to get you more clarity about your anger, where it’s coming from and why?
Awareness is the first place we start when we want to change something. So we need to uncover your thoughts before you can begin to understand your anger and make changes — if that’s what you CHOOSE to do after you understand it better.
Understanding Hidden, Repressed & Denied Anger- the five questions to gain clarity and get empowered now.
Try answering without judging yourself. If you get stuck jump on a mini-session with me, and let’s see about working together. This can be some heavy lifting, and you don’t have to go it alone.
Do you find that you fly off the handle, or get super annoyed at seemingly unimportant or small things? Some examples are the toilet paper situation, you can’t find your umbrella as you are walking out the door and realize it’s going to rain, get stuck in traffic, running late to an appointment or someone else being slightly late, etc.
What kind of words or language do you use to describe your anger to another person? Can or do you say,” I am really angry at you right now,” or do you feel out of control and use name calling and feel guilty or self-righteous after? Do you use softer language that transforms anger into more acceptable supposedly “ladylike” emotions like sadness or depression? (Freud’s famous for his quote that anger turned inward is depression. I’ve seen this so much throughout my years in the helping profession.)
Can you identify when you deny or don’t tell yourself the truth to avoid your own anger? (Frequent example’s I hear are “I don’t want to rock the boat,” It’s not really a big deal,” “ He’s just tired,” “She’s just under a lot of stress at work,” or “I don’t want them to think I’m just pissy, not fun, or too emotional,” etc.)
Have you ever found yourself using low-grade anger and annoyance to keep people at bay, to keep a distance between you and another, or to avoid being vulnerable?
Brainstorm anything else you think is noteworthy or important to note about your relationship to your own and other people’s anger?