EXPRESSING ANGER & TAKING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
So I realized something today I get angry. Haha, I know you are like what? Yeah, I get angry and I used to pretend that I didn’t. I would say to people how I would become sad, but rarely would I get angry. Well, I was definitely in denial because on the way to work today I started to get so worked up over other drivers. Then it hit me I do this all the time! It is like I save up expressing my anger until I am in the car and then just think all these super negative thoughts about other drivers float my thoughts (because we all know I am the perfect driver and everyone else is the problem! haha!).
This led me to start wondering where is this anger coming from? Obviously, I can’t be this angry at these other drivers who are just trying to get where they need to go. I realized that I never learned a healthy way to express my anger. Growing up I was always so afraid of expressing my opinion that I often would stay quiet. In class, I would literally pray that I wouldn’t be called on and I was so afraid of voicing my opinion I often got anxiety in class around it. But with staying quiet or being afraid to express my opinion when a decision was made that I didn’t agree with I would get angry, but stuff the feeling down. Then I would continue doing this for 20+ years. Obviously, the anger would explode at certain times because you can’t hold it in forever, but it was often misdirected at my family instead of the appropriate situation. I remember one time in college my dad and sister telling me that I scared them … which of course made me angry and of course I stuffed it down thinking they didn’t like me and I wasn’t lovable because I scared them. (Yes negative thoughts can truly make you feel all alone!) It can be dangerous when you hold in your anger and not learn to express yourself and your opinion in a healthy manner.
I still struggle with expressing my opinion, and it is a conscious effort every day. However, some of the things that are helping me include awareness, taking responsibility for my actions, learning to express my anger, and getting to the real reason why I am angry.
Awareness: You can’t begin to work on yourself until you realize the issue. Like I said it took me until today to realize I direct my anger at innocent drivers on the road. Being aware of my anger is the first step in helping me feel through the emotion in a healthy way. Remember we are never going to eliminate being angry it is apart of our human spectrum just like happiness, sadness, and excitement!
Taking personal responsibility: This morning I needed to take responsibility that I left late from my apartment. That is not the other driver’s fault, that is my fault. I know it can be frustrating to have a slow driver in the left lane, but ultimately if I didn’t leave late I wouldn’t be trying to speed to get somewhere on time, therefore inviting the added stress into my life.
Learning to express my anger: This has to be done in a healthy way. Sometimes now when I am driving alone I will scream. Yes I will literally scream in my car, it is a great release for me. I will do it a couple of times to get the frustration out! I felt completely silly at first! But, I have 20+ years of anger that I have bottled up and need to express so if I need to scream in my car or into my pillow that is just what I need to do. Other ways to express anger is to write it all out in a letter and then rip up the letter and throw it away, go for a walk or dance and really swing your arms around (flail your body around like Phoebe running in the one episode of friends! https://media.giphy.com/media/xnAKGWny5Vfbi/giphy.gif), remove yourself from the situation so you can calm down and then come back with a clear head to discuss what you are upset about in a healthy way. Continue to work on expressing your opinion and not bottling up your anger. This will feel unnatural at first and that’s 100% okay! The more you do it the more comfortable you will feel expressing yourself.
Why am I really angry? Going back to the misdirected anger toward my family, we have all done this. But why am I doing this? What other issues am I dealing with that is causing me to behave this way? In the case of driving this morning, I was actually mad at myself for leaving late and then adding the stress of rushing to get to my appointment. Expressing myself and feeling through my anger is something I will need to continue to work on, but I am excited that I now have some ways I get to practice expressing my anger in a healthy way.