I am seeing an increase in counselling sessions of anger in various forms. Anger and how it is expressed can be very damaging to the individual, couples and families. Anger has a place and is a valid feeling and expression of emotion, BUT, it is very rarely used effectively.
Why then do people use anger to express their needs?
Typically, we use anger to express a different emotion. Anger is the surface level expression that we use to show a more vulnerable emotion. We use anger when we are scared, we use it when we are hurt and we use it when we are frustrated.
Often, we have learnt this somewhat safe expression of our feelings at a young age. It may have been demonstrated to us by parents or guardians or maybe we used it to stay safe and feel heard. Sometimes we just don’t know how to identify what we are feeling and anger is a safe way of expressing ourselves.
The problem with anger is that we can do damage and very rarely get heard or get our needs met. In fact, usually we get labelled as a problem. Even if we are not the problem.
Anger is one of the most damaging expressions of emotion in a relationship and in parenting. Often, the person using anger is a lovely person. But the anger masks that and people only see the anger, not the human hurting underneath.
If you use anger in life, then chances are it isn’t making you friends and doesn’t make you feel happy. Safe, not vulnerable maybe but not happy.
If you use anger in a relationship then you will probably not feel heard and often, be labelled as the problem. You may in fact erode your relationship using anger too often.
If you use anger parenting then you are not creating healthy mechanisms in your kids for them later in life. You probably feel like you have control but as your kids get older, you will realise that anger doesn’t create respect. It can create fear and disrespect. Anger eventually makes parenting really hard and probably doesn’t work long term.
If you use anger as a tool, then maybe it is time to learn how to use something more effective to get your needs met. Save the anger for genuine danger when you genuinely need to stay safe.
Don’t keep anger in your toolbox of communication.