DECONSTRUCTING Anger

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We ALL have difficulty in dealing with things when they do not work out the way we intended or hoped, and most of us struggle to come to terms with the fact that life doesn’t seem fair.  There is needless suffering because people don’t recognize that making peace with this fact is an unavoidable life task. Not getting what we want occurs in a host of situations from the ridiculous to the horrendous, which can be infuriating and sometimes even hurtful.  BUT not getting what you want is actually what you need, and it need not be too hard a pill to swallow.

Let’s break it down…

Anger is a powerful emotion that escapes the control of even the most spiritual among us, and while anger can be destructive, as we all know – it can also be a powerful motivator for positive change.

Anger is defined as the emotion related to one’s psychological interpretation of having been:

1.  Offended

2.  Wronged

Or

3.  Denied

When we are wronged, offended or denied the immediate reaction is anger – it is the go-to emotion – but interestingly, anger is in actuality the secondary emotion.  Yes, you read that correctly, it is the SECONDARY EMOTION. The primary emotion we feel under the circumstances of being denied, offended or wronged usually passes through us so rapidly that it sneaks by completely unnoticed and unspoken.  Anger tends to emerge when we experience intense frustration, fear and hurt.  And the reason for the secondary response beating the primary emotion to the punch (pardon the pun) is because anger demands our attention; it heats up our blood- it is a strong force of energy – and sometimes is misunderstood as power.  To deal with one’s anger in a situation seems “easier” than the reality of our fears and hurts, which are in fact much scarier and uncomfortable to deal with.

When you can step back and observe your anger, you gain objectivity enabling you to see what is beneath the anger.  You will see the anger merely as a symptom, as your secondary emotion, and you will begin to identify the root and cause of its flare-ups and begin to deal with the heart of the issue.

I worked with a couple where the husband always directed his anger at his wife, and she could not understand why she was the brunt of his anger.  When it came time for them to be intimate, she was unable to engage with him because all she saw when she closed her eyes was his angry, red face.   After working with them and doing an exercise, which I believed would be helpful, he realized his primary emotion was fear of rejection.  Rejection was something he had felt from her, time and time again, but was not in touch with that feeling, could not articulate it to her, so he just reacted in rage.  But his rage made it difficult for her to be intimate with him, reinforcing his feelings of rejection, resulting in a vicious cycle.

Our emotions are a response to a certain event, and for the most part our responses are automatic and involuntary, like a knee-jerk reaction, this is known as emotional feedback. So… When we are in love, we are completely enchanted with all the new feelings of excitement and wonder toward our partner, we relish them and savor the feedback, wishing for the feeling to last forever. However, the minute we experience an emotion that makes us feel uncomfortable, like anxiety, hurt or fear, we desperately try to disconnect from the emotion and its feedback.

ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT NO EMOTION LASTS FOREVER (even though sometimes it feels like it) because change is the only constant. In essence our emotions are A SIGNAL TO CHANGE. We do not need to become a slave to our feelings by reacting to each emotion.

Here’s an interesting thought… think about it this way… when you’re watching a scary movie you may experience excitement, fear or nervousness.  The movie is something that you are watching as a viewer (it isn’t something that is happening to you at all) and yet you still experience the thrill of it while remaining the observer.  This applies to any kind of movie… the story evokes emotion, but none of it is happening directly to you, you are experiencing it vicariously.  Try applying this idea to you and your life. When you feel the anger swell, let your negative emotions navigate you toward POSITIVE TRANSFORMATION.

Although emotions arise in our consciousness, they are NOT our consciousness.  We have the power to choose to rise above them, and simply OBSERVE the emotion rather than become the emotion.  By shifting your perspective you don’t have to identify with your emotions, you simply assume a higher-level perspective.  And what gives you more clarity from a situation or feeling better than a little bit of distance?

JOURNAL:

1.  Think about a recent episode where you experienced anger.

2.  Now find the fear, hurt or frustration that is really behind it.

3.  Identify this primary emotion, which is often the one that goes unnoticed, and simply become aware of it.


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