Learning How to be Angry
It’s not about yelling or throwing tantrums or refusing to compromise. It’s about speaking up in a firm dignified way to express our frustration or disagreement – without descending into uncontrolled rage.
This thought-provoking article from The Book of Life* makes the case for finding your voice and giving contained anger a go.
It’s easy to believe that the world today suffers from an excess of anger, and it looks like getting a lot worse. On the other hand, it could be said that a far more common, albeit invisible, problem is our widespread inability to get angry. We can’t find the right way to make a complaint, we swallow our frustration, and we fail to express our sense that something is not right. These feelings can lead us into bitterness and low-level depression.
That is not to say we should open ourselves to raging fury, harming people and ultimately getting nowhere. Rather, we need to speak up, with dignity and poise, while those around us accept our opposing perspectives.
From early in our lives, most of us are discouraged from showing our frustration or anger, for fear we’ll be seen as self-righteous or proud. As children we learn that moodiness, tantrums, complaints and rages are just not to be tolerated. In relationships or at work we’re taught to accept that other people must have a good reason for behaving as they do, and far be it from us to question or challenge them.
This may be all well and good in the short term but psychologists say that not being allowed to occasionally behave badly as a child can lead to bad feelings and mental unwellness in adulthood. It’s actually good for our development if our parents love us enough to let us express our displeasure or disgruntlement and make a fuss sometimes.
Being too polite or gentle all the time and never defending our point of view can leave us without any idea of how to stand up for ourselves and avoid being taken for granted. We need to have courage and learn the art of making a firm but self-possessed protest. Forget the myth that anger might destroy everything good. There are things we need to say, for the sake of our emotional and physical wellbeing.
*The Book of Life is sponsored by The School of Life, a global organisation dedicated to developing emotional intelligence.