“I don’t want to get angry anymore.”

"Spaceship One" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.

~Aristotle

Anger is usually a reaction to fear — fear of being hurt, overlooked, or betrayed, for instance. Anger is a helpful emotion insofar as it makes us aware of possible unfairness or mistreatment. It can appropriately signify that an injustice has been done or is occurring. Thus, don’t eliminate or repress anger altogether, but take note of it and inquire into the real causes of the injustice without jumping to conclusions or jumping into a tirade.

Ongoing rage is often the disposition of people who are ineffective, unaccountable, and powerless. People who storm around, rave, and point fingers don’t take responsibility for themselves and are ineffective in improving their situation.

One of the keys to making anger our ally is to develop the habit of clarifying how much we ourselves as opposed to others may be contributing to the unfairness or offense. For instance, we may be contributing by continuing to overlook mistreatment as it gradually worsens, or by provoking someone with veiled insults or a condescending attitude.

As people become more accountable for their own participation in a problem, the bitterness felt tends to diminish. While angry and aware, you hear another voice inside saying, “you’re overreacting; you’ll have to be accountable for this,” or “you’re staying in this unworkable situation; you’ll have to get out of it.” Knowing that you will have to be accountable and take action tends to subdue the inner drama-queen.

When intimates know that you will eventually take responsibility for your part in a confrontation and take real action regarding mistreatment from others, whether that occurs in five minutes or three days, the exchange tends to be less rancorous. The fact that others know that you will be accountable and hold them accountable adds some seriousness to the exchange while lessening some of the harm caused by seething accusations.

Learning to see the situation from the other person’s perspective takes away the intensity of the anger and informs you how to communicate effectively with that person or take necessary action. When you learn to look at several perspectives at once, rather than being locked into your own perspective, your anger softens, and so will your self-righteousness. Moreover, you’ll be able to focus on taking effective action, which is where real power lies.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Changing your neural synapses: ‘It’s just the way I am. I have a bad temper and can’t change it.'”

Read “Flexibility: ‘My negative emotions bring me down. I tend to dwell on feeling hurt or angry.'”


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3 Responses to “I don’t want to get angry anymore.”

  1. Pingback: “Anger is eating me up.” | Healthy Relationships and Solutions to Happiness and Love © 2012

  2. Pingback: Compassionate Confrontation: “He said he’d spend more time with me, but has not followed through.” | Healthy Relationships and Solutions to Happiness and Love © 2012

  3. Aleksandra says:

    I might buy it if it was expanded a bit. The erosan I say this is that my job involves failed marriages, and there are certain patterns and behaviors I see over and over and over. I need to know the why behind various stimuli and responses. One of the erosans I come to this site is because I’m looking for answers about the behavior I see. Your post about BPD was very enlightening, for example. What I want to know is why are some people unable to stand up to PA folks, and what it would take for them to deal with such people so that their lives aren’t so miserable. I see people spending decades with people who make them miserable (in more ways than just PA behavior), and I keep thinking life is too short for that crap. If your book focuses on recognizing these people and their behavior and strategies for dealing with them–and by dealing with I mean neutralizing them–or avoiding them, I would want to read it. Here is what I have noticed: a lot of those on the receiving end of unjustified anger (not just here, in the cases at work, too) react by giving in. And they seem to think that bending backwards for that person will make them magically become nicer. That’s what I don’t get: why do people think this? It never works (or maybe it does, I only see the failed marriages after all). I didn’t realize PA behavior was a woman’s thing, because the first time I learned of it a man was being diagnosed with it. I simply classified it as being a jerk. If this truly is disproportionately a woman’s defect, then you definitely have something there. I think I’m a little wary about a book from that perspective (as opposed to a strategy perspective), because it seems that these days, spelling out a given defect is used as an excuse for bad behavior as in, “Oh, sorry, I’m PA! Can’t help myself,” and then it’s like the latest victim-fad rather than a jumping off point for self-reform. I’m not sure how you can avoid that side effect, though. –Tyrian Purple

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