Anger as a tool

Yup, I needed anger in my tool box.  I don’t mean the kind of out of control that shuts off your brain type anger.  Babies use anger to get their needs met.  However, let a baby cry long enough, often enough the baby stops fighting for what it needs and dies.  With that side note, what type of anger do I mean?  The first thing my counselor did was try to get me in touch with my emotions.  Anger is the easiest one to reach.  No go.  I would start to feel angry about something he would say and suddenly it would be gone.  He became frustrated with me.  One time in a middle of a conversation he stopped and asked, “How do you do that? Where does it go?”  No answer, I didn’t know.  I wanted to know why was anger so important.  Anger is the red flag that someone crossed a boundary.  Anger is the adrenaline kick needed to win a battle.  Anger ignites the determination to get up off the floor and stop being a door mat.  Anger adds the boost needed to get out of rut. Anger is one of the essential emotions unfortunately abusers use anger to tie their victim to them.  Anger is a tool that needs practice using.  First, I needed to recognize anger.  Did you know that anger and excitement feel very similar?  I had to recognize when I was getting angry.  Next, I needed to acknowledge that anger was a secondary emotion.  I either felt hurt, fear or frustration first.  I needed to think about why I was angry.  Understanding my own reason for being angry was essential.  If the event logically should have caused a small explosion but a mega ton emotion erupted, most likely there was something from my past that added to the blast.  The small event or incident was not the issue the raging anger from the past needed to be addressed and acknowledged. (I called these massive explosions powder kegs from my past.)  Many, many sessions in counseling were spent tapping into and understanding where my anger was coming from and what was happening. I also needed to keep anger in its place.  I like the example we use with the students in Early Childhood Education.  It is called Turtle response.  First recognize that I am angry, next tuck in and think about why I was angry (the root cause not the surface frustration), brainstorm solutions, finally choose one of the other tools in my tool box to solve the problem.  Anger does not solve problems, it helps me identify them.  I need an angry red flag to get my attention that a problem exists, a boundary was crossed, or a past issue needs resolving.  Putting a red flag of anger is adding a new interesting dimension to relationships and solving conflicts.

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