A friend walked into my living room and had a look on her face that brooked no questions. She wasn’t about to explode; didn’t look like she was about to melt down. Instead she looked too peaceful, too poised, spoke in a tone that was just a little too reasonable. I know her, and I knew this meant she was – for the moment – unreachable.
It may be my imagination, but it seems I’m beginning to see this increasingly – in my clients, friends and sometimes in myself. In fact, I noticed this in me a few days ago, and decided to make becoming aware of it part of my morning mantra.
There are a ton of articles on angry women, all of them either praising them or asking why it’s OK for men and not OK for women to be angry. And maybe that’s what’s happening: in business, anger in a woman is seen as unattractive; like she can’t control her emotions. But because of all the press over this – and the pushback from women in business – women are beginning to express their anger.
This is great! Except when the anger is misdirected – and this is what I’m seeing increasingly – with both men and women. For instance, my friend was angry at her son because … well … the list is long. She knows her real source of anger is with herself – that she let herself down and ended up taking it out on her son, making her even angrier – but she just can’t seem to stop it. Then later she feels remorse and an almost driven need to make amends.
I know when I get angry like this: I know it because it doesn’t feel good – it feels filled with garbage. The pattern for me is my anger actually begins earlier as anxiety or overwhelm. I may look at the list of things I think I need to do with dismay, thinking I’ll never get through it all. Then I might wonder if I even have it in me to do it, and what was I thinking getting myself involved in this particular project anyway. Then I’ll really up the anti by musing on what others must be thinking about me and my foolishness. That’s when some poor sucker pops up and happens to say the wrong thing at the wrong time (which by now could be anything at any time), and I lash out. So, added to my dismay and anger is remorse.
This whole thing happens without much awareness on my part. Hence my morning reminder: when I build into my day an awareness of what I’m thinking and feeling, and where it all might lead, I can begin to act in a way that brings positive change, rather than negative feelings.
If you find yourself getting angry or carrying it into your day, there are three things you can do to support yourself in a positive way:
- Be prepared. Bring an awareness into your day about how you’re feeling, especially if it involves fear, anxiety or overwhelm. Being aware helps you take responsibility for your feelings and the situation you find yourself in.
- Take care. If you’re like me, when you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, you’re also extra sensitive. If so, add an extra dose of self-care, giving yourself space to deal with the emotions that come up, recognizing that you may interpret what others say negatively as a result. Self-care isn’t merely a good thing; it’s essential to living a happy and balanced life.
- Learn to say No. One essential of self-care is knowing when it’s best to say No!, or at the least, delay responding. This is, for me, the most powerful thing I can do for myself. “I’ll get back to you on this” gives you time to get into a better place and respond thoughtfully rather than react emotionally.
Eckhart Tolle has his own way of addressing anger – see the video below.
It’s great to be able to feel and express our anger. Learning to express it “cleanly” with no garbage is well worth the effort.
I’d love to hear what you do, and am certain other readers would like to hear it too. So I invite you to leave a comment below.
Eckhart Tolle – Expressing Anger
Quote of the Week
― Simone de Beauvoir
At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages. For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at email@example.com