Anger makes us feel powerful. It generates adrenaline and makes us feel secure. If you asked someone though if they are an angry person, they’d say, no. They will say, ‘I’m not angry, I’m just frustrated.’
But aren’t frustration and anger kind of the same thing? They both come from that place where your expectations aren’t met. You aren’t getting what you want.
Let’s remove this dangerous dangler that I’ve inadvertently put out there. I’m not talking about constructive anger. We aren’t talking about actual injustices in the world that compel you to act. Without productive outrage, we wouldn’t have the civil rights act, women’s suffrage, the end of child labor. There is a place for that type of anger. But that’s not what we are talking about here today.
We are talking about anger that makes you want to silently scorn your coworkers, to scream at your spouse, to shout at your kids. It’s the thing that makes you so anxious you over drink, over eat and over smoke. It could actually be the root of an addiction you’ve struggled with for years.
There’s a maxim that says not to let the sun set on your anger. Traditionally this has been interpreted as not going to bed angry, which is nice. It helps you sleep better.
On a broader scale, we could interpret this as dragging the anger from one season of our lives into the next season of our lives. It’s those family of origin issues that create chaos or simple discord in your new family.
Let me illustrate: Maybe your mom was super critical. So you grow up being defensive. When your brother did something stupid, you had to defend yourself to your mom, “Not it. Wasn’t me!”. Your upbringing taught you that having a critical nature is normal and natural. While also creating a keen automated defensive posture.
So when your kids act out, as kids do, you criticize them. When your wife points out that you may be picking on the kids too much, you get defensive. Now you’re training your wife to keep quiet and your kids to fear you.
What if you dealt with your family of origin junk before creating your own family? What would that look like? Sure, there will be times that the kids act out or that your wife says things you don’t like but without the gunk from the past cluttering your perception you can deal with things as they come up. Communication flows freely. There would be more connection, more intimacy, and more happiness in your daily life.
A good therapist can help deal with family of origin stuff. In the meantime, how can we start to let go of the junk we’ve been lugging from season to season.
Y’all it’s time to Marie Kondo our hearts:
- We have to acknowledge and accept that frustration and anger are the same thing. When we start to feel angry (or frustrated), we need to pause, like adults, and recognize that our anger is coming from the fact that we simply aren’t getting what we want.
- Accept that our anger and/ or frustration is our responsibility. Yes, yes, I hear you saying, “I earned that raise!” and you didn’t get it? Right. You aren’t getting what you want. “I don’t deserve to be treated with so much disrespect.” Right. You aren’t getting what you want.
- Trust in the justice of a higher power. Let go of the right to be right. Detach from the outer circumstances and trust that everything is happening exactly the way it should be.
See? It all comes back to you and what you want. If we can own that one piece, how much healing would there be? What if instead of indulging the anger, you accepted the “isness” of a situation, recognized that you can’t always get what you want, but trust that a Higher Power could and would give you want you need.
Just for today
When I start to get all riled up about a person or situation. I’m going to pause and say, “I’m part of the problem here. I’m not getting what I want.” Then I’m gonna “check myself before I wreck myself” and then try to understand the other person’s point of view.
Thank you for giving me the wisdom and maturity to pause when I’m agitated or upset. Help me to practice this pause and grant me the right thought in that pause. Guide me out of the habits of selfishness and fear and into the habits of other’s centeredness and love.