Did you know that “anger” is considered one of nine adaptable emotions that help us survive? Anger, at its’ best is meant to assist in preserving our self. Without anger we would not stop the intruder who is about to hurt us or stop the relative that is verbally abusing our character. Anger is what tells our partner where we begin and they end or vice-a-versa. It is essential to the longevity and quality of a couple’s relationship.
Of course, how we express our “anger” is key to the health it can provide. I can call the relative names back, which will simply escalate more anger, or I can set a boundary with how I will be talked to. This is where an assertive “I” statement can be helpful; “John, I feel disrespected when you say my ideas are stupid, and if you continue to use words to put me down then this conversation will have to end. I would like you to have more of an open mind to my viewpoint… will you do that?” John may be using his “anger” to control the conversation and this would be one of many ways that we can misuse “anger.”
Some other examples of the misuse of anger are: when we try to pass shame from us onto someone else, enjoy the adrenaline rush, suppress or try to avoid anger, let it leak out on to unsuspecting victims, let it feed our hate or our self-righteousness, or react from a place of jealousy.
An acronym that I like to use, and suggest to clients, is the COW method of managing anger. First, we Capture the emotion, next we Own the emotion, then we decide What we would like to do with it. Next week, I’ll talk in more detail about this process. Meanwhile… take care of your “self.”