New strategies for anger management that will help you to see things more clearly
Anger is a very difficult emotion. Women, in particular, may learn to fear our own anger, not only because it brings about the disapproval of others, but also because it signals the necessity for change.
We may then begin to ask ourselves questions that serve to block or invalidate our own experience of anger: “Is my anger legitimate?” “Do I have a right to be angry?” “What’s the use of my getting angry?” “What good will it do?”
These questions can be excellent ways of silencing ourselves and shutting off our anger.
Let us question these questions. Anger is neither legitimate nor illegitimate, meaningful nor pointless. Anger simply is.
To ask, “Is my anger legitimate?” is similar to asking, “Do I have a right to be thirsty? After all, I just had a glass of water fifteen minutes ago. Surely my thirst is not legitimate. And besides, what’s the point of getting thirsty when I can’t get anything to drink now, anyway?”
But If feeling anger signals a problem, venting anger does not solve it. So there are questions about anger that may be helpful to ask ourselves:
“What am I really angry about?”
“What is the problem, and whose problem is it?”
“How can I sort out who is responsible for what?”
“How can I learn to express my anger in a way that will not leave me feeling helpless and powerless?”
“When I’m angry, how can I clearly communicate my position without becoming defensive or attacking?”
“What risks and losses might I face if I become clearer and more assertive?”
“If getting angry is not working for me, what can I do differently?”
These are the questions I address in The Dance of Anger (link is external), not with the goal of getting rid of our anger or doubting its validity, but of gaining greater clarity about its sources and then learning to take a new and different action on our own behalf.
While feeling angry signals a problem,venting anger does not solve it. In fact, non-productive fighting and blaming will protect rather than protest the status quo of a stuck relationship. Women who fight ineffectively suffer as deeply as those of us who can’t get angry at all.
If what we’re doing with our anger isn’t working, it won’t help to do more of the same. But if you learn to do new steps in an old dance, that old dance will not continue as usual.