Anger is a vivid emotion that everyone experiences. It is not a bad emotion, and should not be looked down upon when someone is experiencing anger. Let’s face it, you cannot tell someone who just experienced a loved one pass away that they cannot be angry. They have a right to be angry and channel into their emotions. They can be angry at the world when tragedy strikes and they are allowed to be. Telling someone they can’t be angry may just make them angrier.
Someone might have just been fired or let go from a job and now they have no way to provide for their family. Kids might have just moved to a new city and are adjusting to a new school where they have to make new friends. There are plenty of other scenarios where you have the right to be upset and even angry at the world or the situation. Anger is not a bad emotion, but when anger is not dealt with in a healthy way, it can lead to unhealthy coping habits in different situations.
My Personal Story
Growing up, I started to cope with any let down in my life with anger. If I lost a game, did poorly on a test, got in trouble, etc, you name the situation and I would respond in anger. There is no one reason why I started coping with hard situations by getting angry. For whatever reason, I would just be angry, and would get angry very easily. Honestly, I was just confused, and I did not understand why I would get angry at the dumbest little things. Part of it was because I would always compare myself to others and their successes.
I was trying to find out who I was, and what my strengths were. I was never really great in school, at least not compared to my classmates, and I was trying to find my own value in the grades I got, or how well I performed in school and sports. I was trying to make my friends and family proud, but my own inner dialogue said, “how could they be proud of me if I was average or below average in school”. All of these things added up to one thing, aggression. I did not know how to handle my aggression in a healthy way and that unchecked aggression led to unhealthy habits of coping to different situations.
Change Is Possible
In high school, I started to learn that it was okay to be angry, but that I could not anger as a coping mechanism, because that would just lead to more unchecked anger. I found my identity and started to define myself through my faith in Christ, instead of comparing myself to my peers. Odd enough, when I did that, my grades and athletic achievements got better. By not trying to find my identity or self-worth in my academic achievements or sports, I was able to relax and focus more in class, which in turn helped me retain information. I was then more relaxed and focused during athletic practices instead of having my mind on my grades. I was also able to start coping with situations without getting angry or upset. I was literally a different person.
Whether you are a Christ follower or not, you cannot define yourself from your success or failures. That is a recipe for living in the world of anger. You will get to the point where you are not even happy with your successes, and your failures are even worse. Redefine who you are and where you find your self worth.
If you feel like this post is resonating, or hitting a pressure point for you as you think about yourself, then it may be time for you to reach out to either myself or one of our therapists here at Optimum Joy. It’s hard to live a fulfilled or meaningful life when you are in constant anger. Whether you are ready to make a change towards a healthier life, or if you feel like you just need a place to be able to talk and one where you will not be judged, give us a call; we would love to work with you.
Written by therapist Alex Parlette
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