How Can I Be Less Angry?
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How Can I Be Less Angry?

Monica Berg
December 28, 2017

Dear Monica, I try not to feel angry. I try not the be resentful. But sometimes, I just can’t help it. Should I not talk about these feelings? – Catriona Thomson

"Emotions are data. They are our soul’s feedback system."

Dear Catriona,

Let’s begin with one powerful concept: emotions are data. They’re our soul’s feedback system.

Joy tells us that we are engaging in experiences that are fulfilling, sadness tells us that we need to make changes and anger tells us that we feel victimized. Instead of resisting emotions, acknowledge and explore them. Every emotion arises for a reason.

Anger comes in lots of different flavors, however it’s usually rooted in feelings of helplessness. People who experience anger describe it as a reaction to something that’s happening to them (“he makes me angry”). Also, the angrier the person becomes, the more likely they are to blame something else for how they feel. If something upsets you and you feel anger around it, remember that anger is just a response to a perceived injustice. Many people mistake anger for strength, when in fact, anger is the hallmark reaction of a victim.

"Many people mistake anger for strength, when in fact, anger is the hallmark reaction of a victim."

Becoming the best version of ourselves means taking responsibility for the areas where we need to grow. However, these areas are often dark and extremely sensitive. And they can include a difficult challenge, our tendency to see ourselves as the victim of—rather than the agent of—our circumstances.

Talking about anger can be immensely healing, especially if you can speak with someone who will help you find the source of the anger (feelings of helplessness and loss of control) and counsel proactive responses, rather than someone who will validate and fuel negative feelings.

I’ve always loved the quote, “Anger is like drinking poison, and waiting for the other person to die.”