Your experiences in relationships can often have quite a profound effect and this is usually demonstrated by the impact on our mental and emotional state, as well as how we conduct our lives – the longer it takes to get over the situation is the more it demonstrates either the magnitude of the experience and/or how you deal with things.
I’ve been talking about anger – how you can be afraid to be angry in relationships because although anger is a normal emotion, many believe that being angry is bad, struggle to express it, or are used to believing that someone else’s feelings take precedence. I’ve also talked about trying to understand what makes you angry and why, such as shame, rejection, feeling undervalued and taken advantage of.
I know through personal experience and witnessing and helping other people in pain, is that one way or another, if you truly want to have room to feel positive emotions and release a lot of your ‘burden’, you’ve got to deal with anger.
It’s not enough to say ‘Fine, I won’t be angry’ because behaviour is mindset – saying you’re not angry and actually not being angry are two different things. Instead, you’re ignoring how you feel, rather than ’embracing’ the anger and saying ‘Right, I’m angry – what am I angry about and what am I going to do about it?’
I learned the very painful way that it takes a lot more energy to:
1) Pretend you’re not angry
2) Ignore your anger
3) Attack and punish yourself with it
I remember saying when I was younger that when I was p*ssed off about something, I’d ‘park it’ for a few months so that when I took it back out of the emotional closet, I wouldn’t feel so bad about it.
This was true… However, and it’s a big however, I had learned how to do this from such a young age that I was in fact numb. The hurts were still there – they were just buried underneath other ones and I’d blocked them out.
One way or another this anger stuff manifests itself and it can really impact on your health if you bury it as it’s like it’s eating away at you.
You have a right to feel – that’s good, bad, or indifferent feelings. You have a far better idea of when you feel good from good things if you’re able to know when you feel bad from not so good things or even the bad things – you feel your emotions more clearly.
If we are taught, either by ourselves or by others not to feel ‘negative’ emotions such as anger, we struggle to have an emotional range and find it difficult to articulate how we feel. You’re likely to veer between ambivalence or losing your rag and getting medieval, and you might not even know why at the time.
You’ll have disproportionate responses.
You can’t avoid conflict. You do have to say no to people, and unfortunately, you’re going to be annoyed or downright angry sometimes. Fact.
Avoiding conflict re-routes it back to you – the diversion puts all of the pain on you.
When you experience something that makes you angry, a cycle of things will happen.
Your negative experiences bring out your worst fears, particularly the ones that tap into your fundamental beliefs about yourself and you become angry, indignant at what you’ve experienced, directing the anger in various directions, and more often than not, when you can’t pass beyond the anger, turning it on yourself, which can cause depression, but will at the very least, certainly have a huge impact on your self-esteem.
When you don’t love, care, trust, and respect yourself, you will put yourself in compromising situations and compromise yourself. Some will be embarrassing and others will make you cringe with humiliation.
When you pull your head out of the sand of craziness and realise what you’ve been doing, who you’ve been doing it with, how you’ve been doing it, why, and what you may or may not have done to contribute to it, the deep sense of shock will make you feel incredibly angry.
You’ll then be terrified of what to do next and afraid to trust and believe in yourself or anyone else, and that will make you angry too – you’ll feel robbed! This is especially the case if it appears they’ve gone on their merry way. You’ll feel either undervalued, taken advantage of, shame, rejection, or even all of these, as I discussed in the posts on understanding your anger.
You’ll then derive your new self-worth based on what you perceive to be your lowered value as a result of what has happened and how negative you feel.
Persistent anger that’s internalised will alter your perspective and distort your perception of yourself.
This gets back to the heart of unconditional love – we’re very quick to ‘love’ others without conditions (think boundaries) and yet we can’t truly love someone or have positive relationships when we don’t have unconditional love of ourselves. This means that regardless of what’s taking place, you know yourself and act with love towards you instead of using every occurrence that takes place around you to affect how you fundamentally feel about you.
This isn’t about saying you can’t have down times – hell, we all experience those, but there is a difference between being in a bad mood/p*ssed off because something has happened and hating yourself because something has not gone as you expected or you’ve experienced disappointment. The latter actions internalise everything that is taking place around you.
Why is it important to to have a healthy sense of self when dealing with anger? Aside from letting you gain perspective and a healthier perception of yourself, you’ll be far more inclined to deal with the things that make you angry with action.
You can spend a hell of a lot of time worrying, overthinking, analysing, working out scenario’s in coulda/woulda/shoulda mode, or trying to ‘recoup’ some of your loss caused by the pain by trying to go back to the person and stem the feeling of rejection and/or get validation. However the amount of energy you will use on these things will only demoralise you, trap you inertia, and give you even more reasons to be angry and any actions you do undertake are likely to be counterproductive because you’re likely to feed into your negative pattern.
With relationships and your sense of self, everything is intertwined. As I’ve told many before, start adapting one relationship habit and it has a positive knock on effect on everything else.
I cannot emphasise how important and fundamentally necessary it is to have boundaries. If you have boundaries that you don’t just think or talk about but live by, you remove a lot of the opportunities for pain, but it also means that should someone do you wrong, you’ll be far better equipped to deal with the anger you feel from it because you’ll know who you are, you’ll be living by your values, and you’ll validate your reasons for being angry.
You’ll take action because boundaries require you to take action and be in control of your experiences.
Boundaries don’t just teach people how to treat you and what to expect from you, but they allow you to love yourself because you will act with love, care, trust, and respect towards you. And I should stress – boundaries aren’t just for ‘everyone else’ – they’re also for you. It is important to impose limits on what you’re prepared to accept in your life.
Tempting as it is to complicate things, getting angry, being angry, and dealing with the anger doesn’t have to be complicated. Really.
Again I know this from personal experience. One day I went to a kinesiologist because I was fighting for myself after being told that I’d have to go on steroids or keel over from pulmonary heart failure at 40. I thought I was going there to talk about food sensitivities but as with a lot of holistic stuff, they look at everything.
She started counting back through my emotional years and asking me about specific times (year and month) in my life and my back went up. I wanted to run from the room and I didn’t even know why. The more she asked, the more defensive I felt. I won’t go on (for now) but I ended up crying like a baby that day and I partly knew what I was crying about and a larger part of me had no clue. All I know is I went in there as one very angry bundle – it was just buried deep inside.
I thought I would have to spend a lot of time working out the who, what, where, when’s, and why’s of my anger, but whilst I worked through a lot of stuff, forgiving myself and letting go of other stuff because I’d accepted it for what it was freed me up to feel genuine positive emotions.
I had to inject a lot of boundaries in my life. It’s as simple as this: If you don’t want to spend a lot of time feeling angry, indignant, and screwed over, don’t screw yourself over by having little or no boundaries. It doesn’t work. You already know this.
I learned how to say no and discovered the sky wouldn’t fall down – Anybody who can’t handle you saying no, especially sto stuff that detracts from you, isn’t worth the time of day. No is not a dirty word. You will simmer with burning resentment if you say yes to everything with the expectation that people will treat you better.
I looked at the old stuff I’d buried with new, clearer eyes. I had more compassionate (to myself) eyes. I acknowledged where I’d made mistakes and used the accountability to empower my decisions about the boundaries I was putting into my life. But I also got real about the events and the people because I was able to be a bit more objective.
Deal with your fears. Whatever you’re afraid of, what you do already know is that doing the same things will continue to make you realise your fears. Get them in proportion, don’t let them rule you and drive your relationships because it’s a big wrecking ball. As a reader once said to me, ‘Fear is just a feeling’. She’s right and we often exaggerate them to stay in our comfort zone. Read my posts on that nagging voice of negativity, positive woman = positive relationships, challenging the misconceptions about love, relationships and yourself.
I asked myself what I would do if I was to continue to stay angry. I couldn’t think of an answer. It occurred to me I’d probably think about being angry and wonder if the other person would see the light and yada, yada, yada, and I realised that I wouldn’t be doing anything other than stewing in my own anger.
Ask yourself: ‘If I’m going to stay angry, what am I going to do?’
I accepted things. A lot of the problems with relationships and even with ourselves is about fighting acceptance. It’s bloody exhausting rejecting the reality of things. I stopped fighting the reality as I needed to fight for myself. For example, people show you who they are. I realised I can fritter away the rest of my days being annoyed and wanting certain people to change but I was trying to control the uncontrollable. It stands to reason that if I’d been comfortable behaving as I had, other people had their own comfort zones. Accepting these people made me realise it’s not about me – This meant some of them had to go and others, by accepting them, I managed my expectations.
You will continue to get angry with people who disappoint you if you keep expecting them to do differently to what they have consistently done.
Whilst it’s nice to see the good in people and be a ‘believer’, it’s even better to see people as they are and not cloak yourself in illusions. Any expectations you have should be based on their consistent behaviour – this means you may have no expectations of them, but at least you won’t be giving them a fertile ground to sow their bad behaviour in.
When you see people as they are, you won’t keep being indignant, surprised, and outraged by what they do and say because you’ll see it coming.
Most of all, forgive yourself. That means letting go instead of obsessing and getting stuck. If you start being a doer, you’ll start to see that you’re doing good by yourself, which makes it a hell of a lot easier to let go of whatever has happened and forgive yourself.
Break the cycle of your anger – deal with your fears, learn to confront situations that make you angry so that you don’t feel powerless and berate yourself and lower your self-esteem. Holding onto and getting stuck in anger is stopping you from embracing your more positive self and we all have one in there that we need to nurture so we can welcome the good in our life.