Anger remains an important topic in our workshops and in the questions that people send us. I like—even love?—talking about anger. I think there’s too little talk about anger and how to express it in a way that we can feel connected with the other person and get over it. Most of us received very little education on emotional skills, including expressing key emotions like anger, sadness, shame, attraction and love. No wonder we struggle. No wonder we sometimes leave a mess when getting angry.
I invite you to take a moment and reflect. When were you last angry? What happened? Did you express your anger to the person you were angry at? Have you gotten over your anger?
Here are a few comments and questions I have received lately:
“I judge I behave like a child when I’m angry.”
I like that you’re noticing what is going on with you. Some people act like a child when they are angry (and in other situations) and don’t have much if any awareness of their behavior. If you don’t yet verbalize it, I propose you start to do that. And allow yourself to behave like a child. I imagine that can be good for you, too.
How do you behave when you judge you are being childlike? Also, reflect on how anger was expressed in your family when you were a child. Were you allowed to be angry and loud? Did your parents express their anger and get over it?
When we have strong emotions, it is quite common to regress to a childlike state. In those moments our survival instinct tends to activates and us winning the fight, getting an apology or acknowledged that we are right becomes about survival.
“I struggle to move from anger to sadness. How could I get from anger to sadness?”
There’s no need to “move from anger to sadness.” If sadness arises, that’s OK and if not, that’s OK, too (as long as you don’t repress the sadness). The main thing is to get over anger. If you feel angry and sad at the same time, that’s fine, too.
Some people see sadness in them as a weakness and try to hide it or deny it. Being sad is OK. Some of us have a habit of going into sadness instead of anger as they have a story that being sad is more acceptable for them and maybe that being angry is “bad” or “wrong.”
Sometimes getting over your anger happens by feeling more light or relieved in your body or noticing the funny side of the anger and starting to take yourself less seriously. I imagine you might be taking your anger a bit too seriously and get stuck. Your anger is not a big deal. I propose you just get messy and let it out.
“I sometimes hang onto anger just to avoid being sad and crying.”
I propose you ask yourself these questions: What is your reward for remaining angry? Are you more in control or feel more heard? What do you fear in sadness and crying? I propose you talk about this with your loved ones and tell them that you struggle to allow yourself to fully feel sadness and cry. Ask them to support you and ask whether you feel sad or want to cry. Crying is OK. Sadness is OK. All of us feel sadness at times.
“Do you imagine that wanting to hear the word ‘sorry’ is partly wanting to be right and having a confirmation on it? And how do you feel about apologies in general?”
I think apologies are totally fine and good. If you feel apologetic, I judge you would benefit by expressing that. If you are not sorry, then there’s no point in saying you are. That would be lying.
And it can also be guilt tripping, as in: “I will get over my anger and forgive you only if you apologize.”
I have said mean or unreasonable things to Pete and then have apologized when I noticed I was feeling sorry for the words or actions I had used. And he and I can get over our anger without hearing an apology from the other. Remember: you getting over your anger is up to you and is not dependent on the other person’s apology, actions or correct words.
In our workshops, all emotions are welcome. We explore together in a safe environment how it is for us to feel and express anger, sadness, shame, joy, love, and excitement. All emotions are welcome! So, come and join us. This is both an invitation and also a promotion (we want people to be happier and get over their shit and we want to earn money doing what we love).