Wednesday Tip Jar: 6 Ways to Express Anger in a Healthy Way

angerAnger is not unbecoming or lacking in social etiquette. It is not wrong to get angry. And what you choose to get angry about is never wrong, because, in that moment, it’s upsetting you for whatever reason.

  6. Acknowledge you’re angry. Mindfully.

Anger is not unbecoming or lacking in social etiquette. It is not wrong to get angry. And what you choose to get angry about is never wrong, because, in that moment, it’s upsetting you for whatever reason. But there is still mindfulness needed because there are things that are not worth getting upset over. But that’s for you to decide.

I’m going to first take the other side of this tip. Never tell anyone, unless they are going wild like a bull in a china shop, to “chill out” and that it’s “not that important”. Just because it isn’t to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t. Period. Would you like it if someone said that to you when you were upset? If the answer is no, then never belittle or trivialize someone else’s frustration or upset. Just because you wouldn’t have that reaction to that particular instance, does not mean someone else shouldn’t.

And that means never trivialize or belittle your own (or anyone else’s). If you feel you’ve been wronged, speak up. Maybe you have a fear of confrontation–but shoddiness and rudeness will continue if you don’t speak up. Will it make a difference? Maybe not. But at least you’ve spoken your piece. But do it in a way that leaves the tantrum behind.

Anger, when used correctly, can get a needed point across.

5. Wait before expressing. Good old count to ten. Breathe.

This will allow you to collect yourself and express yourself mindfully, but get your point across. When used correctly, anger,, can get things done. But never, ever be abusive. If you can’t express your anger without being abusive–that’s the wrong time to say anything.

Anger can be expressed without shouting, without harshness. You can certainly use a stronger tone, but my encouragement is to remember what it’s like to receive words that impact you with all the subtlety of stones falling on your head.

And, to that…consider framing your frustration with humor. More than once, I’ve been extremely frustrated and got a far better result by using humor to express how I felt. As the old saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

4. Write out an email/letter saying exactly what you want to say, but delete it. Repeat. Then repeat again.

After a long round of further experiences with the same company of “service” “representatives” I mention in my first tip, I did this. I was so angry (after a full day of trying to get information about a shipment and an explanation for why they didn’t follow through on their promised delivery date and not getting anything but excuses and “reasons” that included both it being my fault because I didn’t order it “correctly” and didn’t “understand” the order process) I wrote the president of the company.

First email, without his email address in the To: section, I screamed and railed. I deleted that email and wrote another. I deleted that one. After about five edits, I got to a version that expressed my disgust with the experience but wasn’t filled with vitriol.

(As I write this, I haven’t heard back from his staff, though I might. There have been times when I have. Once it was the CEO of a credit card company that closed  up my account by not applying three payments and I had proof in the form of canceled checks; it took six months of letter writing and sending copies of each previous communication, but it worked.)

3. Don’t accuse. It may be the other person’s fault something went awry, but if you’re on the defensive, they’ll be on the defensive, too. Put yourself in their shoes.

When I called the medical records office, I was upset and I made it clear I was upset. But neither did I blame the woman who answered the phone. Because, as I said, it was not her fault directly. Her co-workers had screwed up and she had the unfortunate experience of becoming the person who had to clean up the mess of service her co-workers created (having been on that side of the coin, too, it’s awful to be the one cleaning up a trail of mistakes left by co-workers who fell down on their job.)

They may still be defensive, but that’s okay. The more mindfully you express your anger, the easier it will be for you to get what you need done. But do make it a point to ask yourself before you start screaming at someone. This doesn’t necessarily mean customer service–none of this does–it could be your wife or husband, a co-worker or friend.

Your choice of expressing your anger is a form of honor–mostly of yourself.

2. Go someplace private and let loose with all the curse words and vitriol you want.

Write that expletive-laden email (without sending it!) Turn on the music loudly and scream your frustration. Hit your bed with a baseball bat. Allow yourself the rage. Allow yourself the anger. Then do some breathwork, give yourself some space and time, then speak to the person or people. If you don’t like confrontation, then don’t be confrontational. But consider this: Not speaking up when you feel you’ve been wronged is just another way to suppress something you want–respect.

1. Realize–and accept–anger is healthy, necessary and needed.

Anger generates action and results. Anger creates moments of learning and can generate change in yourself, and perhaps someone else. It’s what has powered social movements and shifts. But, again–as always–it’s how you choose to express it. It always comes back to mindfulness. Anger is a companion voice for you. It holds power. And that power belongs to you.

Questions? Comments? Email me at heather (at) smallchangelife (dot) org or drop by my Facebook page and leave me a message, leave a comment below or feel free to start up a conversation in the discussion forum.


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