How do you feel about anger and getting angry?
Do you believe getting angry is something that you shouldn’t do? Maybe you feel that to be a nice or a good person means not getting or being angry.
However, anger is an emotion everyone feels at one time or another. It is an emotion, just like any other emotion.
Anger has a bad reputation especially in the ‘being positive’ era.
It is easy to classify your emotions as either good emotions or bad emotions! Yet all emotions have a purpose and are appropriate in the right circumstances.
Let’s look at a couple of ‘bad’ emotions to see their positive affect.
Stress: Helps you meet deadlines, achieve goals and have better performance.
Anxiety: Anxiety happens when you are uncertain of something. Anxiety is there to warn you about potential threats so you can assess and respond to them in a resourceful way.
Sadness: Is a sign that you don’t feel happy. It signals that something is not working for you, maybe you need support from others. Whether that is comfort from others or taking time to heal from loss or disappointment. It can be therapeutic and allows you to appreciate what you may have lost.
Anger: Mild to moderate anger can help you move forward positively. Anger can be a useful way of working out and understanding what is going under the surface. When you understand what is causing that anger, you grow your own emotional intelligence
Note: When I talk about anger, am not talking about extreme or chronic anger that can be harmful to yourself and others.
The Anger Iceberg
The Anger Iceberg is a term that The Gottman Institute came up with from their research. They found that anger is the tip of the iceberg with so many emotions beneath the surface.
In fact, most of the iceberg is hidden below the water. Therefore, what you can see on the surface will take you off track and be misleading. This is how anger works.
Their research found that anger can be a mask or cover for deeper emotions. Emotions like rejection, hurt, disrespected, ignored, shunned, shame, guilt jealousy, loneliness, fear, anxiety, exhaustion, pain, embarrassment, etc.
The good news is that the research by The Gottman Institute found that anger is a ‘valid’ emotion. They found that you don’t need to suppress your anger as it is an essential emotion to feel to understand what’s happening inside of you.
It is important to understand that anger gives you the strength to have those healing conversations about what is causing you pain.
Your anger is there to show you something that might not be clear to you to start with. It is about seeing what caused that anger and what is below the surface.
How to use the Anger Iceberg
Use the Anger Iceberg as a tool!
The Anger Iceberg gives you a visual picture to see what is going on under the surface of your anger.
Start to look at why you are feeling angry? What is the root cause behind your feeling of anger?
Maybe it could be that someone has been disrespectful to you or they have not listened to what you needed?
When you feel angry it is because something isn’t working for you or that some emotional need isn’t being met.
For example, you might be dating someone and they pull away. You get angry and say that everyone ghosts and there aren’t any decent single humans left.
You wonder why you bother as it never works out anyway. You thought you would give them a go and they weren’t really who you wanted. How dare they reject you when you had given them a chance.
If you take the time to look closer it could be that you feel – rejected, lost hope and worthless.
Another example, is you find yourself continually snapping and getting angry at your partner. You can’t understand why you can’t stop being angry. Yet, if you look beneath the iceberg of your anger you might see that you have told your partner how you feel and they continually ignore you. You actually feel hurt, unheard and unseen. Your needs are not being met and that is the reason that you are feeling angry.
Anger is always communicating SOMETHING with you.
If you keep in mind the Anger Iceberg it will make you aware that when you are feeling anger you need to look at what is below the surface that has caused the anger. What are your emotions that lead to feeling angry?
This works both ways, when you are angry and when someone is angry with you.
When someone gets angry at you there is often something deeper going on for them too. When you can realise that anger is coming from something deeper like rejection, shame or pain it allows you to have compassion rather than reacting to their anger defensively.
How to Make Your Anger Work for You Instead of Against You
1. Understand Why
Ok now you know about the Anger Iceberg, you can use it to ask yourself where your anger is coming from. Look at your thoughts, feelings and what has happened to you that caused you to feel angry.
When you start to understand why you feel angry you will start to see patterns of what makes you feel angry.
Anger is ALWAYS telling you something you need to know.
2. What’s happening underneath the tip of your anger iceberg?
When you have identified what has made you angry you can get to the cause of the deeper emotion that caused the anger. That deeper emotion is the most important emotion to work with.
For example, if the deeper emotion you are feeling is jealousy you might want to work out why you are feeling jealous to start with. Does the jealousy come from feeling insecure? You would then work on the insecurity.
3. Calm Yourself Down
Feel your anger but don’t stay stuck in it. Your anger doesn’t have to get out of control, you can find ways to calm yourself down. It’s important to learn to control (regulate) your own anger by finding ways that work for you. It could be exercise, deep breathing or a walk to let out the pent-up tension you feel in your body. Or even punching a pillow or screaming where no one can hear you.
4. Direct your Energy
Your emotions can feel overpowering and confusing. Anger can make it hard to think about anything other than being angry. However, when you understand your emotions it allows you to direct them rather than be a victim of your anger. Direct your anger into what you need to focus on like changing the things that don’t work for you. Change the things in your life that are making you angry or unhappy.
I want you to realise that anger is an emotion that is natural and actually is an emotion you NEED. It is time to stop denying it or running away from your anger.
Look at what your emotions are telling you and learn how to express them in a healthy, resourceful way. When you deny what you feel it only builds resentment in you and pushes other people away.
When you are in touch with your “good and bad’ emotions it allows you to be able to create real, healthy, positive relationships. If you are struggling with creating that wonderful relationship, why not work with me?