I’ve been presenting seminars on healing anger for twenty years and it never ceases to amaze me how much misinformation is circulating about one of life’s most powerful emotion. I’ve decided it is time to debunk some of the most common myths. So without further ado, let me begin with…
Myth #1. Anger is a bad emotion. It’s wrong to get angry.
Truth: All emotions have purpose and value. They are great tools that enable us to learn more about ourselves – why we react to certain stimuli the way we do, what matters to us and what’s unimportant, where our expectations and judgments lie, and what circumstances we take issue with that need work to correct. It is not the anger that is bad – it is the way in which we manage (or don’t manage) it and express it that can cause serious damage.
Myth #2. When you feel angry, it’s best to let it out and get it off your chest.
Truth: Yes and no. Sometimes it’s not necessary to express how you feel. Many issues can be resolved internally without ever verbalizing your displeasure. Sometimes it’s not wise to convey your feelings. Blatantly telling a police officer that you’re livid that he pulled you over for speeding could cause him to become irate and rather than simply issue you a warning you are slapped with a hefty ticket. However, there are times when it is perfectly acceptable and advantageous to let the other party know that you are upset with them or with what has transpired. Sharing feelings invites open dialogue that can clear the air, gain deeper insights, and strengthen relationships.
Myth #3. You can’t help the way you feel.
Truth: Anger is a choice. I decide if I want to be upset about a situation or just let it be. All emotions originate in the mind with a thought. And since I alone choose my thoughts I also choose the corresponding emotion. When my best friend fails to return my call after a week’s time, I can tell myself she’s being rude or consider that she might have simply forgotten. One evokes anger, the other compassion. Either way – my choice.
Myth #4. Other people/things make you angry.
Truth: People or events (outside stimuli) are triggers, not causes. Whenever we experience an event (something occurs, someone says/does something that does not meet our criteria for what should happen) we become agitated. Pay careful attention to the expectations and demands you place on yourself and those around you. Expecting that there be no traffic at 7 am when I leave for work, is likely to cause me to become irate when I find myself in bumper-to-bumper congestion on the freeway. A simple readjusting of one’s expectations to what is reasonable for the situation alleviates any potential anger from manifesting.
Myth #5. Anger is hereditary. If you have a bad temper you can’t help it – it’s in your genes.
Truth: Anger is a learned behavior. Claiming that it is inherited is an avoidance tactic – a way to circumvent taking responsibility for your attitude and subsequent behaviors. Under the right conditions, anyone can control their anger. If the consequences are too high (perhaps you run the risk of getting fired for an explosive outburst at work) you will contain your feelings until you are in a safer environment where the dangers of expressing it are far less. A bad temper can be healed with the proper knowledge, tools, and commitment.
Myth #6. People with anger issues yell, scream, throw things, hit, punch, etc. Those who don’t react with aggression don’t have a problem with anger.
Truth: Not so. One is simply more apparent than the other. Many people are afraid to openly express how they feel and keep their anger bottled up inside. This can lead to depression, health issues, relationship problems, addictions, somatizing (inflicting harm upon oneself such as self-mutilation), self-loathing, and more. Others resort to sarcasm, the silent treatment or other covert behaviors. And there are some who are in denial of their anger believing that it is wrong and/or that they will be judged because of it. Either way, suppressing anger can have potentially deadly consequences.
Anger is a normal, healthy, useful, and necessary emotion. Acknowledge it when it arises, get to the root* of what is bothering you, heal those issues, and let it go. Anger directed appropriately can yield positive benefits for you and those around you. Choose your emotions wisely for they direct the course of your life.
*Learn more in The Secret Side of Anger
To order a copy of The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth visit http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html
Listen to past shows on iHeart Radio @ http://www.iheart.com/talk/show/53-Anger-911-Radio/
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