#ThursdayThoughts: The Necessity of Anger

“You are dead to me”!  

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If anyone knows me, they know that’s a statement I use when I’m pissed off!  I usually go from 0-10 and I’m not easily calmed down.  I tend to hold things in and then they come out in an explosion of anger. It’s something I’m trying to work on.   If someone has angered me to the point where I’m at a 10, I proclaim them dead to me. That usually means they no longer have a place in my life. I literally cut them out at the root.   It’s a double edged sword and a side effect of me being a black and white type of individual. I don’t like grey areas. You are either with me or against me. Removing people from my life who do not honor or value me is not an issue I have difficulty with.  However, I don’t like becoming angry because I become a different person. I’m cold, and my words sting. I’ve been that way since I was a child. My mom used to say, I had a tongue like a knife.  My words have always had power and I knew that at a very young age.  That’s not always a good thing and lately I’ve been looking at ways to handle the emotion, Anger. 

It’s an emotion that is inevitable. We have all felt our blood boil or a deep rage building up inside of us ready to erupt like a volcano.  Experiencing anger is a part of life.  We are taught from a very early age that anger isn’t good and we should refrain from feeling this emotion but I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.   Being angry is a real emotion caused by something or someone who has caused you hurt or pain.   The truth is, one day someone is going to do something that hurts you or causes you pain and you have to deal with that emotion not just suppress it.  I think acknowledging anger and dealing with it properly is a necessary part of being able to heal and move past things in our lives that have affected us.   Acknowledging anger is a necessary step on the road to healing.

Coming out of an abusive marriage really affected me and I lost my voice.    I held my feelings in because I felt like they didn’t matter. My feelings didn’t matter.   I have come to realize that there are things that will always be triggers for me as a domestic violence survivor and I have to manage and acknowledge them.   Disloyalty, Dishonesty, and Disrespect are three triggers that usually have me seeing red.  When anyone exhibits any of those three characteristics, I tend to boil. Those three characteristics in people trigger me because it makes me feel like “My feelings and I don’t matter”.  (There is the root right there)

I’m learning, while I have a right to be angry and upset, I also have a responsibility to deal and process that anger accordingly.  That means I have to use the anger I feel to push me to a place of acceptance and eventually a place of healing and growth.   I’m not perfect and I most definitely slip up and into old habits every now and then but like most people, I’m a work in progress.  I’m more aware of it now so I can see when I fall into old habits.  So how do you deal with it? These are just a few ways I’m learning to deal with anger when it comes.

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Acknowledge the root of what you feel.

Anger is just a mask; a side effect of something bigger.  Anger can be a cover-up for fear, jealousy, confusion, frustration, hurt or powerlessness.  You have to acknowledge what you really feel, call it out, then deal with it.  The key is to do it in a healthy way. I can admit I haven’t always followed this one. For me, it’s important that I have a voice and that I’m allowed to express myself freely. The problem comes when I’m not able to express it directly to that individual.  I tend to want to give that person “a piece of my mind”.  It goes back to the need to "have a voice" or "have my feelings heard and acknowledged".  A better way for me to express my feelings has been writing about it. I write in my journal or I actually write a letter to the individual that I never intend to send. I say everything I need to say and get those emotions out.  I’m not just talking about a letter about how angry you are. I’m talking about letting someone know how you made them feel.   Sometimes it’s easier to say I’m angry to someone than say you have hurt me.  I struggle with that as well.   I’m learning that sometimes you don’t need to say it to the actual person to release it; sometimes you just need to get it out.  I tend to feel better after I purge my thoughts or at minimum, I’ve calmed down. 

Take time to deal

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Anger is a necessary step in grieving.  When you have been hurt by someone or something, it affects you. You feel more than sadness, you feel a range of emotions and anger is one of them. Folks are quick to tell you to forgive and that is an important part of healing and moving on, but you cannot skip over anger. Those are real emotions and suppressing them or acting like you don’t feel it doesn’t help.  That anger eventually rises in you and comes out in different ways.  If you don’t take the time to fully grieve what has happened to you, you’ll find yourself stuck in that pain and that anger will eventually become bitterness.  Take time to deal with your emotions and take as much time as you need. Healing is a process and each step takes time. You have to be patient and trust that you won’t always feel this way. 

Get active

Want to know a great way to deal with anger and improve your well-being? Get fit!   I’ve loved boxing and kickboxing for such a long time and whenever I have had a chance to get in the gym and punch something or kick something, I feel the stress and weight of my emotions lift.   I channel what I’m feeling and punch it out!  It’s a great way to release the aggression you may feel on the inside without hurting anyone.  Hitting a punching bag is the emotional equivalent of Beyoncé with her baseball bat tearing the streets up in the "Hold Up" Video! (IJS…I was jealous of her in that moment because I’ve had times where I needed some “Hot Sauce”).    I mean, you can envision who you are punching and you are burning calories along the way.  If you can’t box, try something else that gets your blood going. Running, working out at home, CrossFit…take that negative emotion and use it to your benefit. You’ll be clearing your mind and working your body at the same time.

Disengage

I do this quite a bit on social media.  I tend to get easily irritated by certain posts. When I see posts that are misogynistic, Pro-Trump, ignorant or when I see people “false flagging” on social media, I get annoyed.  I don’t entertain arguments online anymore; I simply disengage from the conversation and sometimes from social media all together.  Daily social media breaks keep me from being “weary with the ways of the world” (cue Solange).   If I’m in the presence of someone who is trying to push my buttons, I do the same. I remove myself from the conversation.  I’m responsible for the energy in my space and part of that responsibility is making sure I’m not engaging in anything that could tick me off.  You really do not have to respond to anything.  It’s easier and more productive to just walk away sometimes.

Cry it out

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I’m the kind of person who gets so angry that I cry. It’s something that has annoyed me since I was young.  It made me feel weak to cry.  Now I understand that sometimes a good cleansing cry is exactly what you need.  Sometimes you can’t find the words to express the hurt or the pain you feel.  I’ve had nights when I’ve literally sat with my journal and cannot come up with the words. Sometimes the pain cuts deep. It’s those moments when I just let it go and allow myself to grieve.  Why not? I’m hurt and I’m in pain…sometimes crying is the quickest and easiest way to get it out and move on.

Reach Out

Reach out to your friends.  Sometimes friends have a way of helping you through painful situations. Sometimes they are there to allow you to vent. Other times they are there to be a shoulder to cry on and then there are times when they are there to make you laugh uncontrollably and in that moment, you know it’s going to be ok. You are going to be ok. It’s not the end of your world and life will definitely move on.  

Practice Self-Care

You’ve been hurt and you are angry. Now is the time to step up your self-care routine.  I speak about self-care quite a bit on this blog because it’s imperative to my emotional well-being. It brings me back to my “center”. It’s my personal safe space.   Being hurt can leave you feeling vulnerable and exposed.   Spend time taking care of you while you heal.  Whatever it is that brings you back to your “happy place”…DO IT! For me, it’s detox baths, it’s oil diffusing, it’s meditation, it’s quiet spaces, it’s Beyoncé, it’s good books, it’s great times with friends, it’s writing, it’s music, it’s anything that reminds me that in spite of what has happened, I’ll be just fine.  PRACTICE SELF CARE AND PRACTICE IT OFTEN!

Let it go

It’s happened; you’ve acknowledged it, dealt with it; now it’s time to part with it.   There’s no use in holding on to it because it doesn’t bring you anything.  It’s time to move to a new phase in your journey and that’s forgiveness. Forgiveness of the person who inflicted pain and sometimes forgiveness towards yourself.   Forgiveness doesn’t mean you dismiss what has occurred. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you allow someone who hurt you back into your life. (That’s a personal choice based on the incident) Forgiveness means you are ready to move past it.  It means you are ready to heal.  Forgiveness means it no longer rules your heart.  It means you’ve purged yourself of those negative emotions and you are ready to embrace the good stuff coming your way.  I’ve learned that people and things that have been removed from my life only made room for better things to come in.   When I struggle with forgiveness, I try to remember that I’m blocking something good that coming my way.  It’s the last step I have to do in order to fully release myself from becoming a prisoner of pain.

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Once you are able to properly acknowledge and deal with your anger, you can move forward to forgiveness and letting go.  I think it’s important to acknowledge and deal with our feelings, even when they are negative, but do not allow them to control you.  Healthy anger allows you to express your frustration without hurting anyone else.    I fight every day not to be consumed with things in my past that have angered me because being bitter, hard and cold is not the type of woman I want to be.  That doesn’t erase, or excuse a person’s behavior but I’m no longer ruled by it.  I can remove someone from my life without being consumed by the anger they may have caused me to feel.  Dealing with my emotions and acknowledging them, allows me to take power over a situation I couldn’t control and turn it around to my benefit.  We may not always be able to prevent hurt, pain and anger but we most certainly can control how we respond and deal with it.   These are just a few tips I try to use to keep my peace.  I’m not there yet but the more I practice it, the better I’m equipped for the next time.  In fact, I feel better just in writing this!

I hope you find these helpful and try to put some into practice.

Until next time,

Take care of yourselves and one another

D. Sanders