Expressing anger in healthy ways seems to be one of the most challenging demonstrations known to the human race.
If you are like most of my readers, you have been more and more in touch with your anger and finding healthier and more productive ways of expressing it.
However, there is one area that can easily be overlooked and it can seem like we are not as angry as we used to be but may still not be fully accountable for expressing our anger.
Before I tell you what that is, let me share how far I’ve come regarding my own anger.
I used to be a very angry person…on the inside. I had a lot to be angry about…
When I was growing up it was not uncommon for parents to take their frustration and anger out on their children in extreme ways compared to what is now tolerable. It was not unusual for parents to beat the crap out of their kids in the name of discipline. Maybe you can relate to this.
In my family it was my mother who was the aggressor. She would use belts, coffee cords, wire coat hangers, and what ever was in her hand at the time of an outburst, like hair brushes and wooden spoons. Sometimes she would pull my hair or cop a Sunday and just smack me across the face. At our bible meetings she would pinch my leg until I cried. She had extreme frustration with my alcoholic father and five children.
My father, on the other hand, never punished us or took his frustrations out on us…well maybe twice. He was either drunk or hiding in his bedroom avoiding his anger. However, he did sexually abuse me as a toddler.
On top of this, I was raised in a religious cult by my mother where we could only show love, kindness, and long-suffering…very long. It wasn’t until later in life that I recognized this kind of love was only something I did. I couldn’t feel it because my heart was so closed. I now know and can feel the difference between doing love and feeling love with an open heart. It feels much more authentic, real, and connected.
There was little or no room for my anger after I got married because my husband owned all the family anger. A fist through a wall was all that was necessary to keep everyone else’s anger in the cellar.
Because I was not taught heathy ways of expressing anger, felt like a condemned sinner for even feeling pissed off, and others had more anger allowing no room for mine, I pushed my anger down…way down. My anger became very leaky as an adult. I became very passive aggressive.
If anger is not released it causes depression. That is what depression is…repressed anger. So as a way of self-preservation, the anger will find a way out.
This is how passive aggressive energy works. The person appears to be calm or contained but they do subtle things that feel edgy. It’s usually not big enough that you can put your finger on it, but energetically you can feel the underlying annoyance. It can be seem so slight that it is difficult to analyze or describe in words what they are doing specifically to express their anger. It is like it hides just below the surface of what words can describe. It can, however, be detected and noticed in the tone of their voice and body language.
Have you ever had someone hand you something across a desk or table and they kinda push/shove it at you…maybe a little too hard and it just happens to fall off the table? Then if you ask if something is bothering them, they will deny it, joke about it, or somehow blame it on you. We have all experienced this kind of energy in a myriad of ways.
Passive aggressive people tend to break lots of things by “accident”. They tend to be in a hurry and impatient.
One way my anger used to become leaky was on the phone with people I did not know, like customer service people. I used to take my anger out on these innocent people by being very rude and condescending. I knew they would never meet me in person. I always felt bad about it afterwards as it only added to the general shame I already felt.
Another way my anger used to become leaky was when I was driving. No one could hear the vile things I was yelling at other drivers who were driving slow…I mean the speed limit. Or who were obviously lost. I would honk my horn regularly and cut people off on the freeway. It was not uncommon for other drivers to flip me off and give me the finger.
Since passive aggressive people are so out of touch with their anger and are challenged to express it in healthy ways, they will get others to express it for them. They become very good at pissing others off, pushing their buttons, and getting into arguments so that they can be in the angry energy without actually owning it.
By getting others to be angry for them they outsource their anger.
The next time you piss someone off, honestly start looking at whether or not this is your anger. Do you always point out during an argument that you are not the one who is angry here? Start noticing during angry interactions if you were annoyed before the person arrived or showed up.
This is one area that can easily be overlooked when you are working on owning your angry energy. It can be difficult to recognize and a way of staying in denial if you only see others being angry.
If this rings a bell for you, noticing this is a first step towards owning your anger. Allowing yourself to be angry in the moment is healthy. Anger is an essential emotion that lets you know when your internal sense of justice is being violated.
Start becoming 100% responsible for how you are feeling. When you are angry, own it and acknowledge it. The other person is NEVER the cause of how you are feeling. Another person can only stir within you what already exists. The moment you fully realize that is the moment you start taking full responsibility of everything in your life. You will no longer be holding and validating the story that you are a victim.
Life will not just be happening to you…you will start creating the life you love because you are the master of your universe.