Embrace Anger

The first time that I had a long-term relationship with a counselor (how can I write that so it doesn’t sound romantic?), at one of our first meetings, he asked me to buy and read the book “The Dance of Intimacy” by Harriet Lerner, PhD. I asked why I had to pay for counseling AND a book. Couldn’t he provide the book for free, or lend it, or tell me what’s in it, if it was so important? He said that I didn’t have to buy the book, but it would save time, and give us some common vocabulary as we discussed issues.

I bought the book, read it, and the following week, I reported that I did so, and asked “What’s next?” He looked stunned, and asked if I had any questions about the material covered. I said, no, I’m a good reader, and that it was all familiar concepts. I was eager to move on with this counseling process. He asked me to buy another book: “The Dance of Anger” by the same author. I rolled my eyes, bought it, sat down to read it cover to cover, and went “WHOA!!!!!” after just the first few pages. This book was completely over my head. I spent years reading and rereading sentence fragments, trying to make sense of the material. I never realized how angry I was, and how poorly I handled my anger.

The core lesson that I learned from the book is that anger indicates that I’m not saying how I feel or what I want. I remember that lesson often now.

Twenty years later, I am participating in an Anger Management course. I am continuing to learn how to recognize my anger, and to plan strategies for dealing with it in constructive ways. Here are some highlights so far:

Feeling angry can distract me from what I want

Anger can make me blame others instead of taking responsibility for what I want

Recognizing that I’m feeling angry can bring an important issue to my attention

Feeling angry can move me to do something constructive

How do YOU turn anger into your friend?

 

Image credit:
Red Hulk by Marcel Trindade, used under Creative Commons License by-2.0.

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19 thoughts on “Embrace Anger

  1. Okay, Grace, you had me thinking hard – looking under my skin to see what I may see. I spotted a smidgeon of quiet anger simmering away. It’s directed at myself, and points at my my feeble attempts to get on with my self-improvements! I always seem to sabotage myself with bouts of procrastination. Oh well, I fully expect to conquer it one day if I keep plugging away. 🙂

    Chin up, and all the best with your management strategies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! Christine! I know what you mean about anger directed at oneself. Blaming ourselves is only slightly better than blaming others, since we can do something about the anger; either way, blaming is probably not working.

      I don’t know what procrastination is. I don’t recall ever procrastinating. Maybe it’s my perspective more than a virtue. I mean, I’m always busy You might say that I procrastinated posting this comment because I read yours hours ago, and didn’t respond until now. I think that now is the perfect time to respond since I have been removing distractions since I first saw your comment, and can now focus on responding in a thoughtful way.

      I hope you are being kind with yourself, and resisting “shoulding” on yourself. You are always doing your best I hope that you are appreciating the progress that you are making toward your self-improvement.

      Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Grace. I am getting better at not dwelling on my ‘should haves’ and reminding myself just to get on with what I can do about the present and future. Thanks for your kind words, which are always thoughtful.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Grace, the fourth strategy you listed, “Feeling angry can move me to do something constructive.” is one my wife favorites. She says that whenever she needs something done around the house, she goes looking for me. She has noted, that when I go mad I tend to get busy, and then suddenly, things get done. As for me, I can’t imagine where she gets these ridiculous ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m afraid that your wife might continue to feel angry if her “doing something constructive” means getting someone else to do something. The point is to DIY.

      Are you saying that you don’t get things done ever? even when you’re angry? 😉

      Like

        1. Yes. Hooray for alternative responses vs mindless rractions. I have had many opportunities to practice. I love focusing on what I feel and want, and what I can do, instead of on what the other person did.

          Like

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