|Anger more harmful than cat poop on carpet
When our cat was rescued from a hoarder, his bright orange color was black from the dirt and other stuff that was matted into his fur. So, when we adopted “Cinnamon,” the last thing he wanted was someone touching him.
It has taken a year, but now he follows us around the house mewing wherever we go and sits as close to us as he can. (In fact, he’s lying on the rug beside me as I write.)
Mary flies back to Michigan every summer to be with her mother, and this summer was no exception, leaving me to take care of Cinnamon.
Now, I can’t talk cat-talk the way Mary can, so while she was gone, Cinnamon knew she was gone.
The night Mary returned, Cinnamon pooped on our carpet and vomited on our bed. Was he sick? No. He was angry. And although we don’t poop on the carpet or vomit on the bed, what we do with our anger can be far more damaging.
It begins when you’re young
Growing up in an angry family teaches us when we are very young there can be a danger in anger. We grow up thinking and feeling: “My anger is dangerous...or bad…or sinful. So it’s safer to hold it in.”
On the opposite side, we may grow up in a household where anger goes unexpressed, so it is one of those atmospheres where our imagination can run wild with nothing to pin our anger onto.
We feel anxious about everything and believe it’s our fault. The psychological term for this is ‘imploders.’ Imploders tend to turn the anger on themselves. They store resentment and irritation over many incidents until they are sitting on a volcano of anger.
When some of us fear rejection, we are often afraid of expressing our anger. We feel empty, and our message is “I need you to love me. In fact, I’ll be whatever you want me to be.” This, too, can grow out of a childhood where the child receives the message that anger is bad.
repressing our anger?
Remember this: your anger is going to get expressed one way or another, like Cinnamon’s poop on the carpet. Repressing our anger means it gets expressed physically, through skin ailments, heart problems, migraines and headaches, obsessive-compulsive disorders or even addictions.
Other ways we repress our anger is through sarcasm, criticism, blaming others, withholding and controlling.
Some of us, while actually radiating rage, will not accept that we get angry. This often leads to low-level depression. This person’s repressed anger is dangerous because when they do blow, there is often a meltdown.
So how do we
let go of our anger?
The person who is afraid of being angry is afraid of expressing his needs. Losing your temper can feel like a relief but the fallout is damaging and can often lead to consequences that are even more destructive than the anger.
If you communicate your feelings of frustration, anger is channeled outwards and can be dealt with. If you feel angry or upset, it is far better to say so without exploding. So where do you start?
Begin with your feelings
Remember this: while your feelings first flood into your mind when something happens to you, over the long run they primarily come from your beliefs, not the event. In other words, they are coming from your thoughts. And while you cannot say, “I will feel this way and not feel that way,” your beliefs and thoughts strongly affect your feelings.
And remember, your feelings are neither right nor wrong…neither good nor bad. They are simply telling you what is going on inside your head. It is what we do with them that can get us into trouble.
So when I am angry with someone, rather than getting “in their face,” I start with my feelings. “Bob, I feel frustrated (or hurt, or angry, or bad) about what you are saying about me.” Or “Sue, I felt really hurt when you do that.” Or “Bill, I feel confused when you treat me that way.”
Remember, you cannot argue with someone’s feelings. You cannot deny they are not there. You deal with the underlying problem, which is often simply the need to express your feelings.
Steven Campbell is the author of "Making Your Mind Magnificent" and conducts "The Winners Circle" every two months at Sonoma Mountain Village in RP. He can be contacted at 480-5007 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.anintelligentheart.com.