Welcome to Thoughty Thursday! This is the day of the week that y’all get to be privy to whatever thoughts are kicking around in my brain.
Today I’m thinking about the nature of anger and how people express it.
This post became a flicker in my mind back in March when I read Lisa Hall-Wilson’s post on Anger: 5 Shades of Seeing Red. In her comments, I shared something a long-ago counselor said to me:
“There is no anger. There’s only hurt and fear.”
You might be muttering, “Say WHAT?!” Just go with me a minute… What she was saying is that anger is a secondary emotion – it nearly always comes from another emotional response (usually hurt or fear).
A few weeks back, Dr. Margaret Paul wrote a post called “Don’t I Have The Right To Be Angry?” that got me thinking about this topic again.
I’ve put the highlights below, in case you don’t have time to read the original:
I frequently hear this question from my counseling clients: “Don’t I have a right to be angry? I have been betrayed (or hurt) and it seems to me that I certainly have a right to be angry in this situation.”
My answer is, “Yes, of course you have the right. But what’s the point? Is your anger working for you to get you what you want?“
That’s a damn fine question, actually.
I think about the concept of anger periodically. Certainly, I’ve had reasons to wallow in it at various times in my life.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m lazy or because I’ve had a crapload of counseling, but it’s a pretty rare thing for me to spend much time on anger. And I hate hanging on to it – it wears me out.
Most of the time when anger sneaks up on me, I can go to a counselor or a friend and chat it through long enough to figure out how I feel. (Remember, that’s how we ladies work – we talk to figure out how we feel about something. Click here for Man-speak 101.)
And (shocker!)…my feelings usually circle back to the statement at the top of this post: I’m hopped up because of hurt or fear, which are far more personal and difficult to deal with.
Hubby and I went to a counselor at the beginning of our marriage and I like Counselor Guy’s approach the best. Whenever something’s bothering one of us and we’ve got to have a conversation, the first thing he asks us is:
What do you want to get out of it?
I don’t know why this was such an epiphany to me but it really was. No more getting side-tracked in an important conversation, no more bumbling around, no more walking away wondering how I screwed things up so badly.
Counselor Guy’s entire approach starts with the endgame, which is amazingly freeing. This approach allows us to:
- Decide what outcome we DO want and focus on that.
- Spend a lot less effort by not chasing our tails, getting sidetracked.
- Craft our conversation toward our desired outcome.
To be fair, it doesn’t always work. Sometimes there are more people having the conversation after all, and it’s a pretty sure bet that they don’t have Secret Weapon Counselor Guy in their bag of tricks. But it works most of the time.
At the very least we walk away from difficult discussions feeling more peaceful because we were clear about what we wanted to get out of it and we tried our best to get it.
How do you deal with anger? Do you agree or disagree about my “Hurt and Fear” theory? What is your approach to difficult discussions? Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!