Don’t you hate it when someone tells you not to be angry? People seem to think that they know best how we should or shouldn’t feel. I was on the phone recently with a friend who needed to tell me something sensitive and prefaced it with “Now don’t get mad at me for telling you this.” So I responded (tongue-in-cheek) with, “Well then, who can I be upset with if I don’t like what I’m hearing? Give me a name so I won’t accidentally take it out on you.”
Very often, when others tell us how to feel or not feel, it’s because our emotions make them uncomfortable. If you are distressed, it may cause them sadness; if their spouse is angry they may worry that he/she might hurt or leave them. If I tell you not to be angry it may be because I feel pain when I see you upset. Then, too, I may worry that your anger may cause you to behave in a manner that is detrimental to your safety or well-being. If you get mad enough, will you take it out on another person – either verbally or physically? Will your anger lead to medical issues such as high blood pressure, headaches, ulcers or worse? Your well-being is a concern for me. My comments are a portal to what is occurring deep within me and are not necessarily about you per se.
Then, of course, there are those who become indignant regarding your rage. “Don’t you dare be angry with me! This was all your fault!” “You have no right to be angry with me – not after all I’ve done for you!” These demands may be means for deflection: the individual may not want to take responsibility for their actions and attempts to manipulate you with accusatory, humiliating or shaming statements.
It is imperative, too, that you always consider the consequences of your ire. While anger is normal and useful, it is a very powerful emotion that has the potential to cause significant harm if channeled incorrectly. Likewise, it can generate a world of good when harnessed in a positive manner.
I was trained from early childhood not to get mad. “Don’t be angry. It’s a sin.” “People won’t like you if you’re angry.” So I learned to suppress and even deny my true feelings. I’ve since learned that emotions, all of them – even anger – are useful and serve a purpose. They function as messengers of our wounded selves and beg the question, “What needs to heal in me?” None are bad or wrong. However, it is the way in which we choose to express and use them that determine their value. Keep in mind: you have certain rights and “not” rights in this matter:
~ You have a right to whatever emotion you are choose to experience. No one has a right to tell you how to feel at any time ever.
~ You have a right to express your anger with the appropriate party(s) in a respectful and proper manner.
~ You have a right to protect yourself from someone elses improper, unacceptable, unkind or rude comments or behaviors.
~ You have a right to heal your anger and live in joy.
Your “Not” Rights:
~ You have no right to ever use your incense in a hurtful or destructive way, either against someone else or yourself, or to damage personal property. In that same regard, you don’t have a right to hold on to or suppress it either as that can be harmful to your physical as well as your emotional well-being.
~ You have no right to tell others how to feel or not feel.
There you have it: the have’s and have not’s. But the real query is not “Do I have a right to be angry?” The real question becomes “Does being angry serve me and those around me well?” Is anger truly what you want to feel? Would you rather experience joy or happiness, stillness or peace, enthusiasm or hope? The human mind can only process one emotion at a time so carefully choose the one that serves you best. In that regard you have every right.
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