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Angry? Who, Me???
Strategies to Cope with Anger
by Michele Germain, LCSW
When you are standing in the “10 item or less line” at the supermarket behind a person making 14 purchases do you feel yourself getting ready to jump on top of him? Do you ever ask yourself why you feel upset about this minor incident? Or do you simply ignore your physical and psychological reaction by quickly moving to the next task of the day.
Unresolved and misdirected anger can keeps the heart closed, the body tense and the mind chaotic. Spiritually you can feel lost and become disconnected from your deepest self your soul. Therefore, it is critical to understand and work with your anger in an appropriate way allowing your body, heart and mind to be in an open peaceful state. Here is where you meet the spiritual aspect of yourself. Here is where you find the answers to your unrest.
Most of us have never learned how to recognize or express our anger in a healthy way so we overact to trivial situations or respond with inappropriate behaviors to show or hide our anger. We develop a dysfunctional style of expressing and responding to anger that we learned during childhood. As we grow older, we are likely to develop an adult version of one of the early inappropriate styles listed below. Look Familiar?
l. The Silent One - Withdraw when angry, leaving others wondering what went wrong. She may mope and not speak for days.
2. The Suffering One - She says she feels no anger, yet seethes underneath, accepts things in a martyr-like way.
3. The Shooter - She’s quick to express anger and quick to forget it. She is impulsive, volatile, and does not realize the impact this behavior has on others.
4. The Sarcastic - She hides her hurt and anger by sarcastic and intellectual criticism.
5. The Guilty One - She hides her anger at others by telling herself she is responsible for everything that goes wrong. She often puts herself down and feels unworthy.
Anger is a normal human emotion. It tells us that something is wrong. It exists to deliver a message and to let others know how we feel. If we learn to recognize our anger, we will express it directly and openly at the time the feelings occur, or as close to the time as possible. There is resolution in the very act of expressing our feelings, even though we cannot change the circumstance or the person involved.
Anger that is not felt, expressed and managed gets suppressed and affects our health and our relationships. Unmanaged and suppressed anger contributes to depression, rebellious behavior and insomnia. We can get headaches, stomachaches, and want to go to the refrigerator every hour even though we are not hungry. We walk around stuffing it, misdirecting it, or escalating it, everything but expressing it appropriately and letting it go.
Try these steps to help you connect with and manage your anger in a healthy way:
Once you have recognized that you are angry, deal with it constructively:
Michele Germain, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and certified bioenergetic analyst with over twenty-five years of experience. As a specialist in divorce recovery for the last decade, she has written articles and conducted workshops on the topic, and has been interviewed on television and radio programs. More information on her work can be found at www.michelegermain.com.