A is for Anger

Happy April Fool’s Day! Today kicks off the A to Z Challenge and the first of my posts on mental health. I’m no good with introductions, so let’s just jump right in.

A is for…

2015-01-15 16.13.30

Anger is a basic, healthy human emotion. It is a signal telling you there is a situation that needs your attention. It is meant to motivate you into action. As with any emotion, there is an element of perception, but generally anger is a response to being treated unfairly, hurt or not having our expectations met. Anger exists on a spectrum from irritation all the way to rage. Frustration is probably the most common point people experience on the spectrum. A lot of people deal with their anger by talking about it, writing about it or exercising it out. These are all healthy ways to deal with anger. Other ways to discharge anger that are also common, but more destructive include shouting, fighting, breaking things or dumping on whoever is near by.

How do you express your anger?

When I am angry, I don’t do any of the things I just mentioned. I wouldn’t describe myself as an angry person. “Angry” is probably the last word most would use to describe me. I just recently discovered that I do in fact, have a lot of anger. So how do I express it? I don’t. Most of the time, I don’t even know I am angry. I suppress my anger and I have been doing it for so long that I no longer recognize the emotion.

Depression and anger have a long history together. Studies have shown that the degree of anger correlates with the severity of depression. Those suffering from depression often have trouble experiencing and expressing anger. It creates inner conflict, triggering guilt, self-criticism and fear of disrupting relationships. Freud even described depression as anger towards the self. I agree with Freud, that is definitely part of it.

In retrospect, I have come up with two reasons for why I started repressing my anger in the first place. One being I am a “people pleaser”. I want to be a good person and I want others to see me that way too. “Good” and “anger” aren’t usually thought of together. That leaves little room for getting angry, let alone expressing it. The second reason is my need for control. If I am in control of my emotions, I am safe. No one can hurt me because they don’t know what affects me. This probably had something to do with those stereotypical mean girls while growing up. Being older and wiser, I know this is unhealthy thinking and it was only a means of self-preservation, but the damage is already done. Suppressing my anger has become a reflex that needs to be undone.

If I don’t get angry, what happens when I am being treated unfairly or my expectations are not met? I blame myself. If I am being treated unfairly it is because I must have done something to make people think they can treat me that way. If my expectations are not met, it is because of my own inadequacy. I don’t go through this reasoning like this in my head. It is automatic. This anger towards myself is turned into hatred. I think What is wrong with you? Everyone else can manage that, why can’t you?

When angry with other people, there is a fear of compromising the relationship or guilt of hurting their feelings. This is enough reason for many to hold back. There is nothing to keep my attacks on myself in check. There are no parallel restraints. Anger turned inwards is vicious. Self-loathing can get so intense that it becomes paralyzing. This paralysis makes you more angry at yourself causing more self-loathing, perpetuating depression. It’s a cycle…… Lovely.

The first step towards breaking a cycle is being aware of it. I can check that off my list.

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34 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. therabbitholez
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 09:46:29

    Excellent first post, I agree anger is healthy and should be expressed, though i do tend to fly off the handle, which as you pointed can be frustration, but I’m learning to deal with that.

    Your right in the midst of depression everything is suppressed so it becomes a part of you and how to deal with the emotion becomes alien.

    I also think that people pleasing is just a lesson in pure frustration, because people take advantage not always intentionally but they rely on you not being assertive, and not realising that you internalise those feelings and blame yourself and round and round it goes.

    A friend of mine took assertiveness classes and it work, she still doesn’t get angry as such but is able to verbalise that she is not happy with a situation, and gained a lot of confidence from that.

    Reply

    • somberscribbler
      Apr 01, 2015 @ 10:34:41

      Being assertive is so important. I’m glad to hear your friend gained confidence from it. I have improved over the years, but I find I don’t bother saying anything when I don’t think the situation will change….like telling my boss that I hate that she has me working on things right up until 5 min before the deadline. She has been working like that for 40 years, she wont change now, lol.

      Reply

  2. charlesallenjr
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 09:59:59

    I really like your theme for this challenge and look forward to reading more. Your comments about anger hit really close to home with me. Good luck with AtoZ!

    Reply

  3. NotAPunkRocker
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 10:24:25

    Sometimes you just have to get angry, it’s all about doing it in a safe or non-destructive manner 🙂

    Reply

  4. jeremyh05251977
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 10:24:34

    I am not sure how my anger sometimes gets out, keeping it in when it needs to get out and then… knowing how to stop… it’s a vicious circle.

    Welcome in the “A”… as a host I am stopping by to say thank you!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

    There’s no earthly way of knowing.
    Which direction we are going!

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood… is Nuts?

    Reply

  5. Gene'O
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 10:48:31

    What I do: Not let on that I am angry (even though you can tell because I am good at hiding it), until it boils up and I spew words at whomever happens to be around me when it has to come out.

    Reply

  6. Norm 2.0
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 12:28:25

    This is a really good topic that can be looked at from so many angles.
    I’ve learned over the years that this is a bigger issue with a lot of people than I ever thought. Though I am starting to understand why some people have trouble expressing anger and dissatisfaction, I still find it so counterproductive when they don’t just speak up.
    I guess I’m lucky (?) that I’m naturally assertive enough to not let things fester. I try to stay polite and respectful, especially with bosses of course, but if someone says or does something I find unfair, I won’t hesitate to bring it up along with an explanation of why I think it’s unfair. Then we can have a conversation.
    Often you’ll find that you were just not on the same page as far as expectations were concerned. Once that is cleared up, both parties can move forward feeling better about the situation and about each other.
    Is it a learned skill that comes with age, experience, and self-confidence? Or is it something we pick up when we’re young based on the behaviour we see in th eadults around us? Probably a bit of both, I guess. Hmmm.

    Reply

    • somberscribbler
      Apr 01, 2015 @ 15:01:26

      Definitely something to think about. You also have to consider your perspective on what is unfair. I often think I am being a wimp opposed to being treated unfairly and don’t say anything. Others might think they are special and deserve better treatment causing them to get angry all the time. So much is dependent on perspective.

      Reply

  7. clicksclan
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 12:44:05

    I’m another person who tends to bottle up anger and then I’ll have an outburst, usually not even about the thing that made me angry in the first place! I agree, it’s a healthy emotion and you just need to find the right direction when you let it out. Even if that just means screaming into a pillow for a minute or two. 😉

    Cait @ Click’s Clan

    Reply

  8. Sunita Biddu
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 13:40:23

    That’s an amazing yet honest expression on anger:) I am taking help from a life coach to work on my anger repressed for years and I didn’t even know I am angry. Beautiful thoughts

    Reply

    • somberscribbler
      Apr 01, 2015 @ 15:07:22

      Thanks for commenting. I hope your life coach experience helps you with your anger. I guess constant suppression just becomes a habit and we no longer consciously acknowledge our anger.

      Reply

  9. henriettamross14
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 14:03:21

    Looking forward to reading your mental health themed posts. This first one is great. I think insight is important and as long as we follow it up with action, we can move forward.

    I’m not an angry person generally but I am fiery and don’t take fools gladly.

    Reply

  10. mbarkersimpson
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 14:40:07

    I am guilty of turning my anger inward. It definitely isn’t healthy and I try to reflect on the problem – I’m even successful some of the time 🙂

    Reply

  11. Helen Hollick
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 14:57:53

    Odd to say I enjoyed this but I did – very informative and interesting. Thanks for sharing – I’m A-Z Blogger number 596 Leaning On The Gate – and having great fun so far! I’ve always believed that if someone is in the wrong they start shouting and get angry. Its very effective to keep calm and talk in a low voice when confronted with these sort of situations.

    Reply

  12. Kay
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 16:14:19

    Excellent first post! Very interesting.
    I hope your A-Z is a success! 🙂

    Reply

  13. Doreen McGettigan
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 16:40:50

    Very good start to the challenge! I suppressed anger for most of my life but over the last 10-years I have worked pretty hard to stop stuffing:)
    I look forward to reading the rest of your posts, Good Luck!

    Reply

  14. Alex Hurst
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 21:16:27

    I like the quote that depression is anger towards the self, though in general, I’m not a fan of Freud (mainly due to personal experiences with his technique used in a manipulative way).

    Anger is a tricky beast. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve overcome a lot of my anger, especially petty anger and anger-turned-grudge. Two things that helped me come over it, and not react with anger on the outset were 1) People can only know their own pain. It is unrealistic to expect a stranger to understand my situation, or vice versa, and so patience is key in finding that understanding, and 2) Pick your battles. As cliche as it is, it’s made me happier. Is something worth getting angry over? No. Not usually.

    I think a lot of anger comes from not being familiar with something, too. Not understanding something. It is a base reaction, usually, except when it is totally justified. Great first post. 🙂

    Alex Hurst, A Fantasy Author in Kyoto
    Out of Print, Fiction authors and their shorts

    A-Z Blogging in April Participant

    Reply

    • somberscribbler
      Apr 02, 2015 @ 08:33:21

      You make two very excellent points. I think #1 is something a lot of people have trouble with. I know I have trouble articulating my pain or whatever situation. I can’t expect people to understand if I can’t explain myself.

      Reply

  15. Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie
    Apr 02, 2015 @ 03:30:02

    You’ve picked a great theme! I’m a people pleaser as well. I also tend to be a bit of a control freak. My go-to solution? I’m a dumper and a yeller. Typically I pretty much just rant. 🙂 It works. I’ll be back to see you tomorrow. So glad you stopped by and checked me out. Thanks!! Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie

    Reply

  16. MENTALLY ME (@stuckinscared)
    Apr 02, 2015 @ 06:02:03

    A people pleaser with a need for control.. I can relate to that, and to the safe feeling that comes with control. I’m frightened of *out of control* (in myself, and in others).

    This is an incredibly good post! – I look forward to reading the rest of your AtoZ.

    Take care, kimmie x

    Reply

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