Welcome to the “All Bent Out Of Shape: Harnessing The Power Of Anger” Blog Series
This blog is the first part in a three part series on anger and how to harness the energy of your anger to better serve yourself, others and your mission, whatever it may be. Part One focuses on the four main Anger Patterns. Part Two will focus on how to interrupt your Anger Pattern and begin to practice Productive Anger. Part Three will focus on how horses can help you identify when you are operating in your Anger Pattern, which Anger Pattern you’re operating in, and how they can help you practice Productive Anger. Enjoy!
When was the last time you were angry? What was your experience of anger?:
- Were you so immersed in the moment that you didn’t realize that you were angry until after?
- Were you angry and tried to hide it and act like you weren’t angry?
- Were you angry and let it show in a way that you later regretted?
- Were you angry, and hid it to keep the peace, then blew up the next time you were angry because you were still really angry about the first instance?
The above bullets describe the four basic anger patterns that I see in my clients and in myself. As you read their descriptions below, ask yourself where you see these patterns in your own life, in others’ lives? Do you have one general pattern that you follow? Do you fall into different patterns with different people or in different situations (work versus home)?
The following Anger Patterns stem from our cultural beliefs about anger. We grow up being told that anger (as well as the other “negative” emotions) are “bad” and that we shouldn’t experience them. It is a lot of pressure to put on ourselves to NOT experience something that is natural for us to experience, especially when, in the reality of the moment, we ARE experiencing it!
The Anger Patterns
“Were you so immersed in the moment that you didn’t realize that you were angry until after?”
Incognizant Anger can be a very frustrating pattern. After the fact, you realize that you were angry and still are angry and think of all the different things you would have said and done that would have made a difference in the situation. Whether it was expressing your anger so that the other person knew you were unhappy and, therefore, you’d feel better after the fact because you expressed yourself; or you realize you are not happy with the solution you worked towards in the moment because the solution did not address the fact that you were angry. Incognizant Anger often turns into beating yourself up afterward, which can turn into a vicious cycle of beating yourself up, then being angry at yourself for beating yourself up, and beating yourself up more because you’re angry! Not a fun place to be. It can also turn into your anger leaking out the next time you’re dealing with the same person or situation. Whether this anger leak is passive-aggressive or out of frustration with yourself, the other people involved sense your anger and become confused because the situation has past and often feel like they need to walk on egg shells around you.
Bottled Up Anger
“Were you angry and tried to hide it and act like you weren’t angry?”
Bottled Up Anger is often used with the best intention: to keep the peace and “not rock the boat.” However, it wreaks havoc in your relationship with others and with yourself. Other people may not consciously sense your anger, but instinctively they know that you are not being Authentic (that what you feel, what you think and what you do are not in harmony), so they will trust you less, may even avoid you. Bottled Up Anger also causes immense resentment toward yourself because you are not expressing yourself! You may wonder why you feel like you cannot express yourself. True Bottled Up Anger usually leads to a mental/emotional breakdown due to the weight of resentment and energy that it takes to bottle up your anger.
“Were you angry and let it show in a way that you later regretted?”
The aftermath of Exploding Anger can be horrifying for both you and others in the situation. When something makes you angry, you feel out of control and lash out toward everyone involved, and often those not involved. This pattern is devastating to your relationship with yourself and others. It is devastating to your relationship with yourself because it usually turns into beating yourself up. You’ll often feel overwhelming embarrassment and shame for acting the way you did, and wish with all your might that you had acted differently and promise to act differently the next time you get angry, but you don’t because you’re not sure how to interrupt your anger pattern enough to end it. Exploding Anger is devastating to your relationship with others because you often hurt other people’s feelings when you explode. You may say things you would never dream of saying in the heat of the moment. Other people trust you less. They do not confide in you, worried that confidential information will come out and be used against them next time you explode. They will often begin to avoid you. They will either walk on egg shells around you, terrified of another episode, or they will push you to the point of exploding, knowing that you will lose control as a way of manipulating you. Either way, it isn’t a pretty pattern to experience.
Boiling Over Anger
“Were you angry, and hid it to keep the peace, then blew up the next time you were angry because you were still really angry about the first instance?”
Boiling Over Anger is probably the most exhausting pattern to be stuck in. Similar to Bottled Up Anger, it usually begins with good intentions, such as wanting to keep the peace, not wanting to rock the boat, wanting to avoid confrontation, not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, etc. but its result is far worse than an initial discussion. Whereas Bottled Up Anger is turned inwards and results in a mental/emotional breakdown, Boiling Over Anger results in Exploding Anger. You may resent yourself for not speaking up when you’re angry, you resent that other people keep doing things that make you angry (even though you don’t tell them you’re getting angry so that they can change their behavior), and the energy of your anger keeps boiling up until finally, weeks, months sometimes even years later you explode, and it is a very messy explosion. You recite off weeks’ worth, months’ worth, and even years’ worth of other people’s transgressions. You lose control and say and do things you later regret. All of the Anger Patterns discussed thus far are damaging to your relationship with yourself and others, but Boiling Over Anger is the most catastrophic. Other people view you as unpredictable and untrustworthy. A single explosion will often obliterate friendships, working relationships, etc. You may feel like you’re going crazy because other people will treat you like you ARE crazy.
All of the Anger Patterns discussed damage your relationship with yourself and with others as discussed specifically for each pattern above. They are also EXHAUSTING. It is exhausting to beat yourself up after the fact when you realize you are angry and could have handled the situation differently. It is exhausting to bottle up your anger and attempt to hide it from others. It is exhausting to explode. It is DEFINITELY exhausting to bottle up your anger for long periods and time and then explode on top of it!
Stay tuned for Part Two of the “All Bent Out Of Shape: Harnessing The Power Of Anger” blog series. Part Two will focus on how to interrupt your Anger Pattern and begin to practice Productive Anger.
Feel free to call me or email me with questions about the Anger Patterns. Please request a complimentary 20 minute coaching strategy session over the phone for help deciding which Anger Pattern you tend to fall into as a huge THANK YOU to my loyal readers.