Anger is a plea for power. When I was a child my parents felt angry most of the time, and they behaved in many negative ways when they were angry. I thought it was my fault when my alcoholic father raged at me, threw a stool in front of the sink, and slammed me onto it to reach the sink so I could wash dishes. I thought, must be I was supposed to know he wanted me to wash the dishes. Yelling, screaming, hitting, and slapping were some of the behaviors they exhibited when they were angry.
The anger is a feeling, not a behavior; even though feelings are always accompanied by actions or behaviors. When we feel happy our behavior might be to smile. If we feel sad, our behavior may be to cry. The smile and crying are not feelings, they are actions/behaviors that accompany our feelings.
Raun Kaufman of the Option Institute tells us, “When we are angry, we are not powerful. We are pleading for power. We are feeling powerless, not powerful. This doesn’t make anger bad or wrong – just inefficient and uncomfortable. You may get mad and yell, or simply bury your anger and keep it voiceless, but it is there, boiling up inside. When you are at ease and unclouded by discomfort, you can act with maximum effectiveness. It’s time to start building within yourself an unshakeable sense of strength so that your can powerfully voice what you want – without getting upset.”
People can feel angry without yelling and hitting those they blame for their anger. In actuality, they are the cause of their anger, because of the beliefs they hold about themselves and their world. My parents’ anger about my not doing my chores was about their feelings of powerlessness of getting the chores done, not about me.
Anger is not powerful, it is a cry for power. Many people believe, “Maybe if I get mad enough, I will get some power over this situation.”
“…our rush to anger and upset usually distances us from the possibility of changing and creating personal miracles in our lives and cements us into being stuck in our unhappiness.
A person or event does not create happiness of unhappiness; that is the stimulus, and the stimulus just ‘is.’ How we judge it determines how we feel and how we act. If we judge a circumstance to be good we feel excited, happy, fulfilled and tend to support or move toward the experience. If we judge it as bad, then we feel duly angry, fearful, anxious, or sad and tend to move away from the experience, because our society has taught us to use discomfort to take care of ourselves.” Barry Neil Kaufman, Happiness is a Choice.
Have you ever tightened up your body for some sort of “protection?” Tension doesn’t protect us, it makes us less able to function in the ways we want. We are often afraid if we don’t resist a situation and get angry about it, we will be used as a door mat and stay stuck in the situation. That is, believing someone else is accountable for our discomfort. Reality is, we are always the only ones responsible for how we feel.
I had a foster son, Sean, who lived with me when he was 17. Sean lied a lot. How many times do you think I might have been angry about him lying in the two plus years he lived with me? Not as many as I would have before I learned that the stimulus isn’t the source of our discomfort. I knew he was doing what he thought was the best way tontake care of himself, so I didn’t judge the lying. Of course, I preferred him to tell the truth, but he fabricated tales anyway. Even when I was angry, it didn’t stop Sean from lying.
Maybe if we are angry enough about a person or situation, maybe we’ll find a way to change it. Maybe not! Anger usually only gets us more anger and unhappiness!
We get angry, fearful, anxious, and judgmental:
To motivate ourselves & others.
As a reinforcer – to perform, & stay the course.
As a gauge to measure the depth of our caring, our humanity – we believe if we judge something as terrible, we will know we care very, very much.
Being non-judgmental is powerful, not passive. We don’t have to use anger in order to have preferences and go for what we want in our lives.
If the electricity goes out, we can still want it to come back on, without being upset. No matter how angry we get, the electricity will come back on whenever it does. Our anger just makes us and those around us more distressed.
We can probably drive more comfortably and safely, when that other driver does something “stupid” if we don’t get angry, but use our energy to stay safe. Our anger will not make other people on the road better drivers! We may get upset for a moment or an hour or a day, but it won’t impact that person cruising down the highway, oblivious of the world around him or her. It’s not personal. They are just bad drivers, and our anger won’t improve them!
Truly accepting a person or a set of circumstances feels like letting go in the most gentle and liberating way, a joyful movement inward that frees us from anger. Unencumbered by judgments which cause anger. we find a reservoir of energy more expansive than ever imagined. This does not reflect a moral standard or any verifiable truth. We use it simply as a reminder of the possibilities and happiness any of us can create in response to any circumstance.
If our happiness does not depend on anyone else’s actions, reactions, words, or commentary, then we are not at anyone’s mercy.
Never be angry again?? It might be worth trying.
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Life Options Coach, Counselor, Teacher
Jackie helps individuals take control of their lives. She is the author of Kathy Said, You’re Not Lost to Me, a self-help book for people struggling with anxiety and depression. With a new powerful approach to our lifelong beliefs, plus a modality called Life Options Dialogues, she helps people uncover the beliefs that are keeping them stuck in unwanted feelings and behaviors, like stress, anxiety, and depression.