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Episode 41: Doing Anger Right

This is an edited version of a podcast episode. If you prefer to listen, click Make Me Whole Podcast to find this and all my other episodes.

Hello, everyone! Today I’m going to talk about anger, and how to start expressing it in a healthy way. I have gotten angry in my life, obviously. It’s a fairly common emotion, right? But I can recognize that there have been times in my life where I’ve been too mad. So upset I literally couldn’t see straight. I've been so angry that my heart pounded and my fists clenched and all I was focused on was making someone else hurt as much as I was. And I honestly never want to be in that place, but I recognize that it is possible. Anger is normal. It’s a natural emotion that we all experience, but I think what’s important is how we learn to manage it. So today we’re going to talk about why healthy anger expression is important, how to move through it in a safer and healthier way, and what to do when it becomes unmanageable. Ok, Let’s start by understanding what anger actually is. It’s a natural response to a perceived threat, injustice, or frustration. When we’re furious, our body releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which prepare us for that fight or flight. It can also be a result of fear, disappointment, or sadness.

Anger manifests in several different ways. Sometimes it’s passive, sometimes it’s assertive, and many times it’s aggressive. Passive anger is when we hold the feeling inside and don’t acknowledge it. It’s what I call The Volcano. Assertive anger is when we demonstrate our anger in a healthy and respectful way, and not many of us do that. And of course, aggressive anger is when we express our anger in a way that is disrespectful, threatening, or harmful. We pull back our hair, rip off our earrings, and get ready to throw hands. So why is it important to learn how to express anger in a healthy way? See, when we suppress our anger, or express it aggressively, it’s only going to lead to negative consequences like damaged relationships, physical health problems, or even legal problems. On the other hand, when we manifest our anger assertively, it can help us communicate our needs, set those boundaries, and advocate for ourselves.

So, how do you articulate outrage in a healthy way? When we strive for assertiveness in our anger, it means that we’re talking about our needs and our feelings. For example, instead of saying, “You always make me late!”, we can say, “I feel frustrated when we’re late. Can we leave earlier next time?” Another technique is active listening, which means taking note of the other person’s perspective and validating their feelings. For example, if someone says they are angry because we didn’t show up on time, we can say, “I understand why you’re upset. I’m sorry for making you wait.” We can also use I Statements to express how we feel without blaming the other person. Instead of saying, “You’re so irresponsible!”, we can say, “I feel worried when you don’t show up on time.” These techniques can be applied in different ways for different situations, such as the workplace or romantic relationships. For example, we can use assertiveness with our employer to negotiate for better working conditions. Or we can actively listen and implement I statements to resolve conflicts with our partners.

Unfortunately, not everyone wor