Admitting to Anger

Anger is one of those emotions that many of us connect with "being a bad person." Somehow, if we admit that we are angry, people won't like us anymore, or we're being selfish and hard to please. It's inconsiderate or wrong to feel anger in relation to a friend, a relation, a spouse or co-worker. Something they do is annoying or stupid, but we're not ANGRY about it-- oh no.

And I have to disagree.

I've learned that most people only believe I am worthy of respect when I respect myself, and act accordingly. I've also come to acknowledge that anger is one of our emotions, and it can be a good indication that something is wrong. Our job is to pause and figure out why we are feeling anger, and deal with the cause in an honest and respectful way. It is a risk-- and a much more satisfying result-- to acknowledge that an interaction angered us, and clarify for ourselves and the others involved in the situation how we prefer to be treated, specifically.

There is no reason to play the victim who works so hard to please people who will never be happy, no reason to pretend that we-- or anybody else-- is perfect and flawless and able to meet our every need without any emotional needs of our own. People are multi-faceted. We may want or feel conflicting things. And anger is a natural indicator of a situation that needs to be acknowledged so that it can change. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, especially by friends, relations, spouses and co-workers.

Often now, I suggest that my clients take an hour or so at the end of a conversation to re-evaluate what was said, and really check in with how they feel about it, and about what was or was not done before and after the conversation. Conversations become a two-part process, wherein you check back with the person you were talking to, and clarify any reactions that you've had since the conversation ended. You get a chance to re-evaluate your needs, to acknowledge your feelings, and to consciously decide how you want to act or react-- hopefully in a more healthy, honest, and respectful way than you might have done "in the heat of the moment."

I know that I cannot actually control my emotions-- and that suppressing them is bad for my health and for my relationships. I know that what I CAN control is how I act in a given situation, or as a result of how I feel. I don't have to act out every emotion I have-- and I can find healthy respectful ways to share how I'm feeling-- or to release the emotions privately.

I'm getting better at admitting when a situation or behavior does make me mad. I realize that usually, there's a very good reason for me to feel that way. And out of respect for and love of myself, I deserve better than that. It's not that I ignore or discount the needs and feelings of the people around me--far from it. Instead, I recognize that life is about change, and about working with others as a community-- for the greatest good. For the good of the whole-- including me. That if I don't speak for myself, nobody will-- and I don't want to spend all my time feeling slighted or under-appreciated. If I clearly express myself and my right to be treated with respect-- and the person or situation does not change in response, it's a good indicator that this is an unhealthy place for me to be. And it is up to me to make the change I want to see.

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