16 Anger Truths
This list of anger truths comes from my own and other people’s research, as well as my nearly 30 years in the mental health industry. I’ll be back soon to discuss each item here. For today, I want to put the list in front of you. It matters to me, as a White woman, that our national and global community starts owning and addressing anger differently. Old models of anger fail us now: Outmoded ideas about anger cause us to misjudge people of color and act irresponsibly with our own buried emotions.
Let’s Start Here
- We all get angry, no matter our age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious identity.
- Some “lighter” anger states, like irritation, flicker and fade away quickly. Others flare and require “processing” for release.
- What triggers anger varies from person to person. We often go unaware of our anger, which could reach back into early childhood or a previous generation.
- We have anger in response to triggers that range from direct and tangible (like when someone hits us) to indirect, intangible, invisible, and systemic (like micro-aggressions and other events of racism, antisemitism, and sexism embedded in our culture and handed down through the generations).
- Denying anger only prolongs it, intensifies it, and/or leads to other problems. We deal with anger at some point, either directly or indirectly.
- Holding anger inside through denial or other strategies requires dissociation, which is a mental and physical process that separates you from your present moment and distorts your experience of reality.
- Dissociation to avoid anger happens like a reflex.
- Long-held anger usually requires some kind of physical release.
- Blocking our anger expression leads to shame, anxiety, and depression. Denying it in one relationship often diverts it to another.
- Repressing anger relates to numerous auto-immune diseases and cancers. Raging outwardly links to its own set of medical problems, such as cardiovascular disease.
- Both repressing AND raging create dissociation, which means they disconnect us from our present moment
- When you hit someone (like a child in your care), you use that person as an object in the service of your anger release (like a punching bag). This action breaks relationship, which is inherently traumatizing.
- Any use of violence toward another being diverts your awareness of anger and engages the dissociative mechanisms of your nervous system.
- In its purest form, anger helps us process information.
- A necessary link in the chain of associative memory, anger bridges between the more vulnerable emotions like fear and the more peaceful ones, like compassion.
- If you allow anger to be expressed consciously and responsibly, it passes.