The past couple of weeks I’ve received a few emails from women concerning my post on Boundary Lessons. This has created some lively discussion on women’s issues, anger, betrayal, forgiveness, expression. So I’ve been asked to write about this topic some more.
There was a rough patch in my life awhile ago that caused me to have some serious anger issues. I didn’t like experiencing that emotion and sought out counseling and read many, many books about the subject. I would like to share some of the tools I’ve learned.
Know your triggers
For most women, our triggers are around issues of power, justice, and responsibility. We become angry when we cannot meet our own expectations, when we cannot change frustrating circumstances from work or home, and being treated unfairly or disrespectfully.
The self-esteem factor
Venting anger is even more harmful than keeping it in. Labels like bitch, shrew, ball-buster mean to undermine self-esteem. To enhance self-esteem people need to feel loveable, and competent, and venting anger does neither of these. Having low-self esteem makes people more likely to be easily provoked and to express their anger in volatile ways. When we are angered we tend to regard innocent acts and words as personal affronts, further undermining self-esteem.
Another counterproductive response to anger (this one was so me) is a tendency to ruminate and brood about the precipitating event, construing it as unfair and deliberately provoking said rumination only worsened angry feelings.
When we have high self-esteem we have fewer anger symptoms and are much less likely to brood about the events that provoke anger. We also have a less propensity to become angry or to keep anger in, or to vent it.
Rather than suppressing anger or negatively expressing it, women with high self-esteem tend to discuss their anger in a problem solving way, either with a confidante, or with the person who provoked it, or both.
Women with high self-esteem also do not have to busy themselves with protecting a fragile sense of self, but can identify the salient aspects of the anger producing situation and approach it from a problem solving stance.
Women who suppress their anger also suffer from low self-esteem, because they’d allowed themselves to be treated as doormats or punching bags. Occasionally after prolonged suppression, their anger would erupt in a way that was out of proportion to the triggering event, making them feel guilty and worthless, further lowering self-esteem( this was me too).
The difference between venting and expressing
*Analyse what makes you angry with out walking around it. Without blaming or reaching for complaints. Recognize it. Validate it by writing it down.
*Admit your anger, feel it out. Exercise, yell into a pillow. Go running. Tear apart old phone books. Depending on the intensity of the emotion this may not always be necessary, some may prefer to draw, paint, or write in a journal. Expressing anger in this way is so positive and healthy, and it is not venting out, hurting people. Regardless of whether or not they make sense our feelings are an essential part of who we are – no longer allow repression. With expression there is no room for it!
* Understand the deeper meaning. Once you’ve allowed yourself to really feel it and you are aware of where or who it has been directed to. There is almost always another feeling behind anger.
* Set boundaries! Plan ahead. Say what you want. Hold yourself responsible for your own happiness.
* Know your limits. Recognize those triggers. Find the roots of them.
* Value yourself and forgive. Forgive others for not always getting it right. Forgive yourself.
On a side note, any emails sent to me will absolutely, positively be private. I do not share emails or names, and do not discuss private conversation with anyone, ever. Privacy is a huge issue for me! If there is anything you would like to discuss or comment on in private please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org