Aristotle's quote has so much truth to it. Being angry was something I didn't know how to do, at all, until my mid-twenties. I don't mean that in the way Aristotle references, getting it wrong somehow. I mean I had so buried my own anger, as a way of coping with my family, that I didn't experience feeling anger.
There was one person who got to be angry in our family and it was my Dad. "Rageaholic" is an appropriate term for him. My strategy was to be "the good girl", to be invisible, cute, stroke his ego and just be small in general.
I'm telling you this because as we ponder anger there are many very diverse ways that we need to look at what growth looks like.
- You may need to grow in your self-awareness around what you are really feeling
- Perhaps you need to grow a pause button between when you feel something and when you express
- Current anger may be larger than life in the moment because it is tapping in to something old that needs to be examined more effectively
- Your growth may be in initiating difficult conversations instead of absorbing and carrying pain
- Maybe it's having the tools to express your anger in less destructive ways
Freud brought us a lot. Our whole idea of a sub-conscious we owe to him. I love this quote about unexpressed emotions. Not every emotion needs to be expressed to the person we are feeling it towards. What matters more is expressing them honestly to ourselves. Feeling them without justification, explanation or excuse. Separating them from what we "should" be thinking or feeling and simply feeling them.
Our emotions are one of our early warning systems. When we practice ignoring them it's like taking the batteries out of your smoke detector.
Wherever you are on the spectrum (expressing your anger in raw, hurtful ways, or bottling it up and not expressing it at all) growth likely includes taking time to "process your emotions" more effectively.
Daniel Goleman, a father to how we understand emotional intelligence, says it so well here. One of the most common ways to short circuit our processing of emotion is to let our thinking mind shut down our feeling mind. We start to explain, justify, make sense out of our pain before we have really let ourselves feel. This sadly gets used as a way of shutting down the feeling and minimizing it.
Learning to use our minds sequentially can bring huge breakthroughs. Feel first. Notice, sit in the emotion, don't judge it, explain, minimize. Feel and express the emotion in some way. Journal, cry, yell at a tree in the forest.
Later think about what it means. How do you move forward, what does it mean, what conversations do you want to have.
Our ability to process and express emotion well can move us in to the most meaningful, intimate and productive relationships! It truly opens doors to a whole new level of personal freedom and powerful relating. I'll close with this great quote from Peter Senge.
Until next week,
Posted on Thu, May 26, 2016
by Marilyn Orr filed under