It really is ok to feel angry. It is a natural human emotion and is as valid as all the others. When you feel angry, you are basically responding to some kind of threat and it is a way that your body and mind is trying to deal with it. This is nothing to be ashamed of – it is there for a reason and it provides us and others with useful information about the current state of our life and emotions. The key is to make your anger work for you, not against you, and it is all about expressing it appropriately in a given situation.
Our society frowns on anger: we are supposed to behave like “adults”, and anger is often seen as an immature tantrum and something to be kept hidden inside and under control.
This suppressed anger can often result in people becoming so called “passive aggressive”, which manifests itself in a behaviour which is still damaging to ourselves and others, because it hides the problem instead of addressing it.
For example, imagine that you are annoyed with your partner for working late and never spending any time with you. Let’s say that you are conditioned to keep a stiff upper lip about it and you silently put up with your feelings of frustration, because to express them would mean to “lose it” and to have the dreaded tantrum, therefore risking making yourself look “ridiculous” and “unreasonable”. So, you either stew silently driving yourself mad, or you try to get your message across by doing things like making yourself intentionally unavailable when he/she wants to see you, or making comments such as “I am very busy and I have a lot of things to do, and since you are NEVER available, I thought I might as well make my own arrangements”. Or, totally misplacing your anger and having an argument about something completely unrelated, like a choice of dinner menu or the use of TV remote control. Such behaviour is called “passive-aggressive” because, although you are expressing your anger, you are not actually actively addressing the problem.
There is a middle way, of course – and that would be to pick a mutually convenient time and, in a “grown up fashion”, talk to the other person in a way that they are able to hear, non-defensively and empathically, about what is also going on for you and what is going on for them. But unless you are a trained therapist with years of experience or have had appropriate professional training, it is certainly easier said than done!
Before you reach this middle stage where you are able to communicate without having a row, you may have to find a sounding board for your pent-up feelings: a friend, a counsellor, a family member, a blog, even. Or try writing it all down, just as it really feels, as this may help you make more sense of what is really going on and gain some clarity on what the real issues are.
It is better to shout and scream about/at the source of your frustrations, then to do absolutely nothing at all. As Tony Robins once said, “By doing nothing, nothing changes”. The problem with that is that while you are having an outburst, you are unlikely to make any useful decisions or express yourself in a logical and powerful way. You may end up feeling worse than you did before, embarrassed, humiliated, and somewhat weakened.
Here is how to harness your anger into a powerful tool which will not only get your point across, but will help you achieve your purpose, and hopefully leave you with a feeling of personal power:
Anger Management – How to Express Anger Healthily