Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Why Suppressing Anger Doesn’t Work and What Does?
Some of us have been taught it is not ok to get angry; that on some level anger is a bad thing. And although it has (unfortunately) become a source of media entertainment some degree, it certainly is still considered socially unacceptable. There are those who are uncomfortable speaking their mind for fear of the possible repercussions. “How will others perceive me: will I be considered mean, difficult, a trouble-maker? I want people to like me and nice people don’t get angry.”
Some believe they have no voice or do not have a right to speak up; or perhaps what they have to say is of no value and others are not interested. Still others were taught as children that anger is sinful. Low self-esteem, the absence of confidence and misinformation are all contributors to suppressing anger.
But this behavior can have devastating consequences. Besides leading to possible health-related issues*, it can easily turn to resentment, bitterness, an inability to enjoy life, unhappiness, depression and relationship issues. In extreme cases, it can result in self-inflicted punishment, sabotaging success, passive-aggressive behavior and substance abuse.
*In The Secret Side of Anger, Dr. Bernie Siegel says, “One’s life and one’s health are inseparable. Genes do not make the decisions. Our internal environment does. You internalize anger and it destroys you. Self-induced healing is not an accident.”
Anger can be expressed safely and must be resolved internally.
Learn to express yourself through assertive behaviors: be respectful of the other party and confident in your own abilities to handle the situation well and deal with whatever the reaction may be. Being assertive means being concerned for the well-being of the other party and does not impose a “hierarchy” mentality.
Don’t be afraid to take the initiative but do remember to deal with facts only. Leave opinions, perceptions, assumptions, accusations, blame, demands, judgments and accusations locked in a closet somewhere. Be solution oriented: seek a resolution all can live with. Be willing and ready to compromise. Speak with confidence and set boundaries when necessary. Always be brief and to the point. Long-windedness can be frustrating for the other party and may lead to additional conflict.
And don’t forget to forgive. We all behave badly at times and other people become angry with us. Forgiveness heals any residual anger and allows us to live in peace.
State your Position and Request (assertive) rather than Opinion and Demand (aggressive).
Things don’t always work out the way we want. Just because we speak up, the situation may not improve. But at least you stated your position and created the possibility. Whatever the outcome, let it go and be at peace. Just as anger is a choice, so is peace. Choose wisely.