We have four options for dealing with anger. Two are unhealthy, and two are healthy. The
two unhealthy options avoid dealing directly with the pain that fuels anger, so we are
unable to heal, grow, or resolve conflicts. The two healthy options deal directly with
the pain, so we can heal, grow, and resolve conflicts. Here are the four options for dealing
with anger: ACTING OUT anger is when we scream, hit, or
otherwise act loudly or aggressively toward objects, other people, or ourselves. Many
therapists used to believe that acting out anger in loud and aggressive ways, otherwise
called venting, was helpful in managing anger. We now know this isn’t true because venting
doesn’t address the underlying pain that fuels the anger, so we are unable to heal. As such,
we remain doomed to acting out the same anger and making the same mistakes over and over.
In addition, acting out anger inevitably alienates others and, thus, is an ineffective, unhealthy,
and even dangerous way to deal with pain and conflicts in relationships.
REPRESSING anger is when we stuff our pain and anger and pretend it doesn’t exist.
What eventually happens, though, is we reach a point, the proverbial straw that broke the
camel’s back, when we can no longer repress the anger, and we blow up. Then everyone,
including ourselves, wonders what the hell is wrong with us, and we feel stupid, embarrassed,
and guilty and quickly return to ignoring our pain and repressing our anger. But anger
is like physical pain: It’s a signal there’s a problem we need to face. So, if we continually
deny our anger and pain, we will remain stuck and unable to heal and grow. Thus, repressing
anger, like acting out anger, is an ineffective and unhealthy way to deal with pain and conflicts
in relationships. EXPRESSING ANGER means verbalizing our anger
and pain in a clear, direct, and respectful manner, which is called assertiveness. An example:
“When you introduced me at the party as ‘Chubby,’ I felt belittled, so please
don’t call me that again.” Of course, to be able to express anger assertively, we must
believe we have the right to take care of ourselves, and we must understand the pain
that fuels it. To do this skillfully, we must first calm ourselves down, identify our pain,
and then figure out what we need to do to take care of ourselves with respect to the
upsetting situation, which may mean setting a boundary or making a request for change.
Expressing anger is healthy and effective because it requires uncovering the pain that
fuels anger and then dealing directly with it, which allows us to heal, grow, and play
our part in resolving conflicts in relationships. Learning to express anger, rather than repress
it or act it out, can be a turning point on the path to healing, maturity, and increased
emotional intelligence. WORKING THROUGH anger is when we realize that
our anger is due to our own issues rather than something outside of us, which usually
means changing unrealistic expectations or working on accepting something we cannot change.
For example, I find myself frequently angry at my 2-year-old son for not obeying me, but
then my wife points out that I’m expecting him to act like a 5-year-old. This helps me
realize that my anger issue is not with my son, but with my unrealistic expectations
of him, so I decide to work on making my expectations more realistic. Working through anger is different
than repressing anger, which simply denies it, because working through deals directly
with the pain that fuels anger by changing something within me. Therefore, working through
is an effective and healthy way to deal with anger that allows us to heal and grow.
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video every other weekend. If you’d like help learning to make anger an ally, then visit
my website, serenityonlinetherapy.com, to learn more about me and the services I provide. Thank you for watching this video, and keep
paying attention to your life. Until next time.