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  • Camesha Wright, MA, LPC-I

Are You Truly Dealing with Anger?

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

Do you ever feel like you are carrying anger all the time? Maybe there are certain hot topic buttons or issues that will really set you off. Maybe there are certain people or personalities that you just can't stand. You've done all you can to deal with your anger, such as walking away, avoiding the source of your anger, counting to ten, taking deep breaths, or even using "I" statements, but it all seems to be a temporary fix.

This could possibly be because you really are not resolving anything, but just managing your anger. Many times, people appropriately use coping skills to manage their anger, but anger is not really their problem. Anger is often a secondary emotion. Something happens, then you get angry, so you use your coping skills to address you anger. You calm down. You use your "I" statements to address the issue, but to no avail. "I feel angry when people use my things without permission, and I need you to ask first." Sure, you said what you needed to say, but your statement puts the power and control of the situation back into the object of your anger, rendering you powerless to take control of the situation. Isn't that partially why we use anger?

We use anger as a way to take back control. Sometimes we use it to manipulate the emotions of the others to be afraid to put us in that state again, so they avoid making us angry. The more I yell the madder I become, even the meaner I get is a way to take control away from the other person that has taken control of something you believe you should have control over and put back in your hands.

So what is really lying underneath the anger? Someone comes into your personal space, takes or uses your things, and then doesn't even think it's a big deal. Perhaps he or she thinks you're "blowing things out of proportion." In a sense, they are dismissive of your feelings. So what is the real issue? Well, you feel violated, disregarded, and dismissed. These are the real feelings you are dealing with. These feelings only manifest as anger, in a ploy to defend yourself and take back control.

Now we are looking at three separate issues that are contributing to your anger. If I feel violated when people go into my personal space and use my things without first, consulting me, then I need to feel safe, and I need others to respect my personal environment and needs. If I feel disregarded when I express my need for others to respect my space, but they continue to intrude in it, then I need to feel considered. If I feel dismissed when I express my needs and others don't give any weight to what I am saying and how I am feelings, then I need to feel heard. You add all of that information together, then you have boundaries issues. Walking away will not help you to address your boundaries, nor will counting to ten taking deep breaths. It's like putting a band aide on a leaky faucet. Band aides are useful for minor physical cuts, but they are not meant to fix a faucet.

When you use your coping skills to address your anger, the purpose is to get you to a place where you can think clearly and objectively, and then explore what the real problem is. So the next time you're angry, the best way to approach the situation is to ask yourself what is the feeling underneath the anger?

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