Why befriending your anger may be more helpful than 'managing' it

Many of us have been negatively affected by people close to us, who may have difficulty managing their anger. We may also have had our own struggles with how to keep control of our own anger, and found it hard to come to terms with the knowledge that this may push our loved ones away. Of course, expressing anger by being aggressive or even violent is NOT OK. It's important we are able to make decisions NOT to express our distress in a way that may make others feel intimidated or even scared. However, like all emotions, anger is a very important emotion. It lets us know when something is wrong, that we may need to do something about. It equips us with a huge amount of energy to take action, where this may be required. Anger may also be the emotion that we are most aware of, that sits on the surface and may be driven by any number of other emotions. For example, someone may feel angry that their partner isn't coming home until late each night from work. Underneath may be a number of other feelings - loneliness (that they are alone every week night), frustration (that they are not able to have connecting time together), sadness (missing their partner), and maybe even fear (that their partner is preferring to spend time at work rather than at home, and what this may mean for the relationship). To undertake a process of finding out what our anger means, what it may be trying to tell us, and what action to take in response to our anger may require BEFRIENDING our anger - being curious, wanting to get to know it better. As we start to ask ourselves questions like "What am I angry about?", "When did I first become angry?", "What was going on at that time?" and "What other emotions may I also be feeling about those things?" then we will start to 'manage' our anger better - by asking ourselves these questions we are engaging the executive part of our brain that is able to take charge and take control. It's important we engage this part of our brain in PARTNERSHIP with our emotional brain - not in order to suppress it or 'manage' it by dismissing its valid concerns. Working in this way with our anger is like the internal version of what we need to do to maintain healthy relationships with others - to be curious and interested in what they are angry about (without condoning aggressive or violent behaviour) rather than being dismissive and invalidating their concerns. Being in good relationship with our own emotions, especially anger, is crucial in order to establish and maintain good emotional, mental and even physical health.

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