Over the years, I have been met with significant resistance when mentioning to clients that events don’t make us angry but the way we think about the event causes the anger. Anger is usually a secondary emotion. Unfortunately, we respond to the anger and not what is behind it. What is behind the anger is usually the most important issue. For example, if someone cuts me off in traffic and I just barely avoid an accident, usually fear is the primary emotion, not anger. Anger is there but the healthy response is to let the anger go and deal with the fear.
Here are several more accurate statements about anger for your reflection.
Getting even never gets you what you want. It usually provokes counterattacks.
A great deal of anger is often a reaction to a loss of self-esteem when others critize us or disagree with us publicly. Such anger is not helpful because our negative thoughts cause us to lose self-esteem. Blaming others doesn’t give our self-esteem back.
When we are feeling frustrated it is usually from unmet needs. Changing expectations changes frustration.
Most of the time, anger will not help you. It will keep you from finding solutions to problems. If there are truly no solutions, anger will only make you miserable.
By trying to understand the perspective of others, we often find that their actions are not unfair from their perspective. If you let go of the belief that you are the one true judge of what’s fair, you will not be as angry.
Finally, the belief that you are responsible for your anger is ultimately to your advantage because it gives you the opportunity to achieve control and make a change in how you feel.
Article Written By: Barbara Kennedy, OSM, LPC