Imagine yourself having a job you’ve ever dreamt of but unfortunately it requires your constant fitting into the ever-changing expectations, your creativity and cooperation in the international environment. You frequently work overtime simultaneously neglecting your private life simply because you wish to live up to expectations of your boss. You were promised a promotion once you “show off your proactivity”. You never say no to additional tasks just because you fear that refusing to do so will send a negative message. Hardly ever do you ask for support or report any problems you face assuming that this will improve your image as a professional. You often bring your job home in order to catch up a little. You try to be polite and keep your emotions in check because, as you’ve read, professionals who don’t show their emotions are valued the most. Instead of letting your emotions go – you don’t react. Consequently, you try to avoid the subject. Nobody will say that your emotions can take you over. You are given an awful lot of work, your colleague with a shorter job experience takes the key client and your boss accuses you of being not open towards opportunities. Then he even kills you by asking whether you look for a different job. The very same day, your husband adds to all of this that he is sick and tired of your forever being away from home because your kids need their mommy and there’s a slim chance that he could grow his own breasts to feed the children. As if this weren’t bad enough, you find out that your son was the one who had written ‘spicy’ poems about the principle. You get red like there’s no tomorrow and then you lose it. You start yelling and breaking dishes…And then? Feeling guilty you wonder what had even happened?
Most of our problems come from stuffing our thoughts and emotions. We, women, lose sleep over making sure that everyone is pleased and feel comfortable. Instead of saying no to things that may overwhelm us, we take up more and more responsibilities and we expect from ourselves impossible things. This all crashes our feelings of balance and make us irritated and disappointed. And then we lose it. Of course, we take blame because we are certain that we should handle it better since “good girls don’t get angry” and because anger ruins our beauty.
Emotions are energy – the more we stuff them the more effort we put into doing so. Sometimes we no longer feel anything and we just pursue our goals no matter what so that nobody calls us “hysterical” or “mentally unstable”. Men, on the other hand, have to show their strength and courage forgetting about their fear or helplessness. They are socially allowed to show their anger because men are praised to be “warriors” while women are just scolded for being “too confident”. William Gray DeFoore compares feelings to vegetables – they’re good when being fresh. The older they get the more poisonous they are. Stuffing your emotions, as they aren’t released, may lead to various diseases such as anger, phobia, depression, insomnia, obesity, to name but a few. Compulsiveness and addictions may also occur.
Have you ever wondered how much stuffing your feelings cost you? How to react when you get irritated, mad, frustrated or terrified? What’s a healthy way to overcome it? The first step to change your attitude to emotions is making them your allies instead of treating them as your enemies. Each and every emotion plays a role, but if we don’t understand it, we won’t be able to deal with it. So let’s start with understanding your anger which we, especially women, dislike.
Anger is to protect us. It is through anger that we know that our safety and boundaries are at risk. Anger springs up whenever we don’t get what we wished for or what we were entitled to. Anger is a sign. It’s not a solution. It doesn’t make our problems disappear – it only signals that there’s a problem. Anger not necessarily has to lead to aggressiveness. But if you feel one, check again what you miss and what you’re fighting for. Anger, similarly to irritation, is often based on ambiguity, anxiety, resentment, fear or disagreement. Anger which isn’t released at all takes up some other forms such as irritation, rage, and madness. Anger which isn’t fully released leads to irony, sarcasm or annoyance. Reluctance toward closeness and intimacy may occur as well.
Emotions usually don’t last long. When we’re mad we either react in aggressive way or we keep our feelings to ourselves. Anger is very hot. If you punish someone with your silence you choose the cold anger which often shifts to hatred. How to deal with anger in a healthy way?
1) Make sure what makes you angry and treat it as a warning sign. What does it say? It may say that you try too hard to live up to expectations of other people. It may remind you of what you can’t get but you really wish for. What is your perception? What is your experience in a certain situation?
2) Make sure who’s in charge of your anger. By saying „you make me angry” you pass the charge on another person. Avoid emotional explosiveness and if you feel it may overwhelm you – just leave. Do it every single time you feel you start defending, accusing or judging yourself. It won’t work. Find an outlet for your anger through keeping you fit. Take care of yourself. Take your time to come to realization of what has been going on and take control over it. Wait 24 hours and then react.
3) Anger can be your weapon. It can be your samurai sword. Whether or not it can bisect a stone it depends on its sharpness and elasticity of your move. Your message should be like this – brief and accurate. No cattiness, no accusations, no complaints. Be straightforward and get whatever is bothering you off your chest – don’t assume it’s’ clear to everyone what you’re feeling. If your beliefs stop you or you fear losing your position or love – ask yourself “where does it come from?”. What do you think about it? Express your feelings because it will only make you feel relieved. This is what makes you look authentic.
4) Always remember that you are not your anger even if you can’t handle it yet. Believe that your feelings don’t define you. Repeat “I am experiencing anger. Here. Now”. Consciousness lets you take control over anger and have a bigger picture. Would you be mad at the same thing in a year? Would it be as meaningful as it is right now? If not, let this energy go away. If so, name the reason and name what makes you angry at this moment. Then you can choose how you will react because you’re holding a sword in your hand.
“Anger looks good on you” and being nice may be illusive. It takes a lot of practice and courage to express your feelings. I’m aware that sometimes it is hard to make a first step especially when others got used to your being nice. Even if you think that it’s not for you – treat it as a promise of improving your health and relations. You can take one step at a time. These can be baby steps. And remember, there’s time to take a breath between an impulse and your reaction.
by Lena Czernecka