Dealing With Anger ~ Do You Have A Bag of Tricks?

Flamingo Conflict…Can’t you just hear that one on the right yelling, “Listen to me, Pinky!” ~ Photo credit: Jessie Harrell, WANA Commons

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:

  1. Decide what outcome we DO want and focus on that.
  2. Spend a lot less effort by not chasing our tails, getting sidetracked.
  3. 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!

Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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70 Responses to Dealing With Anger ~ Do You Have A Bag of Tricks?

  1. K.B. Owen says:

    I think it’s great that you and hubby have Counselor Guy – I think everyone could use one of those! In terms of the “hurt or fear” theory behind anger, I’m not sure I agree completely, but maybe I’m splitting hairs. I’m thinking of times in particular when I’m feeling angry at one (or all, LOL) of the kids. The top source of anger from that tribe seems to be frustration. Can’t say I’m hurt, or afraid; it feels primary rather than secondary.

    I’ll definitely have to give that some thought, though.

    **What? Thoughty Thursday? Very sneaky, Jenny! LOL!🙂

    Kathy

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    • No, I’m with you on the frustration and kids side of the coin. Example: They have been assigned chores and if said chores don’t get done, there is definitely anger on my part from the frustration of having to do the chore(s) myself. LOL, yep, I’m with you Kathy🙂

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I know, right? I could argue every side of this discussion all day long (and I think y’all have been doing a fine job of it).

      A lot of the time my frustration as a parent stems from the fear that I’m doing it all wrong. It’s still a secondary emotion when I look at it in that light. But yes, sometimes Baby Girl just tap dances on my last nerve and i get irked. I’m still going with the hurt/fear theory though because 9 times out of 10 there is something else going on for her to get my goat.

      Even Raelyn’s thing above – that scenario usually pisses me off because I’m afraid of spending all my time cleaning up the same mess I’ve cleaned up 53 times that week and that I’ll fall down on the job somewhere else.

      See? Fear! (LOL…) Back to you ladies…

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  2. I am totally on-board with the statement that anger is born from fear and hurt.

    When I’m angry I have choices. I can walk away from and erase it (assuming I don’t interact with this person regularly), I can face it rationally (as in your sage counsel above), or I can laugh my way out of it. “What a dolt! I’ve been kicked out of better places than this.” Alternatively, the sophomoric, “His/her mother dresses him/her funny.”

    I also use The Serenity Prayer — you know the one. Serenity — accept what we can’t change; Courage — change what we can; Wisdom — to know the difference.

    A counselor once taught me a bio-feedback technique for the spin-off anxiety kick I get when angry: I fist my hand, place it on the base of my breastbone, slowly breath in and out to the count of ten, focusing on my breath moving past that unseen internal knot of anxiety. Works like a charm.

    Thanks Jenny for this oh-so-timely reminder. Make Love Not War! *skipping off now to find my flower child apparel*

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  3. Thanks for linking to my post. Hubs and I call it jumping on the crazy train. Usually it’s just not worth it. Taken a long time and a lot of counseling to recognize that vicious cycle that ends up with a one-way ticket on the crazy train. Great post.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Lisa! And isn’t it funny how your spouse knows exactly how to get you moving on the crazy train? Good on you two to discuss it all enough that you don’t go there.

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  4. It takes me a while to get angry, but when it is finally triggered, it comes full force – usually over something small and insignificant. I do agree anger usually has underlying fear or sadness: the trick is letting go or being honest about what iscavthe root of these feelings and making a change. Many people stay in miserable relationships because they are so afraid of change. Great post.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Ahhhh, you come from the save it up mode of pissed-off-ness. My hubby does too. He used to be a dreadful stuffer of feelings but he’s gotten a ton better through our years together.

      I love your point about being willing to make the change. Change is good!🙂

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  5. Sherry Isaac says:

    Anger is the ugly spawn of hurt and fear. Now that is powerful.

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  6. Gilliad Stern says:

    Anger never solves anything. I keep trying to get my wife to understand this. She gets so angry at non mannered people in public. Anger, in most cases, just makes the situation worse. If you can sit back and try to understand where that person is coming from and see it from other point of views, it brings about understanding instead of anger. It doesn’t always work, but it normally works for me. Anger normally just makes the other person mad and that is when the situation gets out of hand. Being able to control your emotions can make life a lot easier. For me, talking it out with someone is normally the best solution. It takes the pressure off and allows you to get the problem off your chest.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I agree that anger often makes a situation worse. But I think sometimes it DOES solve things.

      There are things that I’ve done in a fit of “righteous anger” that I was too scared to do in the normal scheme of things. Often this is something that needed to be done and I get pissed off when I HAVE to do it because I’m scared. But that anger gets all tied up in my pride and well…you know how that turns out.

      Still, I agree that talking it out is always the best solution and one I use 99% of the time.🙂

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  7. Gene Lempp says:

    While anger happens, I’ve not found it to be all that useful. Unless one wants to waste time while on the road to a solution. I always ask myself if what is generating the anger is something in my control or not. If not, then being angry is pointless, since it changes nothing and may make things worse. If the anger is caused by something I can impact, then anger is simply wasting time that would be better spent calmly finding a solution.

    Great post, Jen🙂

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  8. I’d agree 95% of the time anger is a secondary emotion to hurt or fear. Sometimes, though, I think anger can arise as Kathy said above from a feeling of frustration or from a desire to punish (she didn’t say that last part – that’s me). I can remember times when I’ve heard about a cheating spouse or about a parent who abused their child or about an owner who abused their pet, and I’m just plain angry. I want to see them punished for what they’ve done. I’m not afraid or hurt by them. I might not even know them. But I am angry at how evil and cruel their act was.

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    • Catie Rhodes says:

      Marcy, I *so* get what you’re talking about. I have a deep desire to punish those who abuse others. For some reason, I think they deserve to feel the pain and suffering and fear they inflict on their victims. And I wouldn’t mind inflicting it. Which makes me just as bad as they are.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Marcy, I get angry at injustice too. If you scroll down to the brilliant comment Kathy posted from Jane Lebak, I think that kind of anger is a boundary issue. We watch someone breach the boundaries of morality and it PISSES US OFF. And rightly so.

      Great comment – y’all have me thinking too.🙂

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  9. I’ve heard that before, that anger is a secondary emotion from fear. It’s what I try to remember every time I get angry at something. I try to remember the very first thing I felt when I got angry and it is usually because of hurt feelings or fear (especially when my kids try acrobatic tricks I’ve told them not to do and give me heart attacks).
    It’s not always easy to recognize the original emotion because anger is such an all encompassing one, it pushes the others out… Then again, that might just be me.
    Gloria mentioned the Serenity Prayer and that is one I try to remember to think of on a daily basis – especially the harder days where emotion is running high for whatever reason.
    Great post, Jenny. Definitely something to think about=)

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  10. Absolutely. Anger is an expression of hurt or fear. I couldn’t agree more.
    I am like you, I don’t get “angry” often but when I do, I struggle to let go. Ok, let’s be clear. Struggle to let go within the HOUR…I never hang on to anger for days on end. Who has that kind of spare energy??? But in the moment, I’ve been known to hang on to my anger like a badge of honor beating whoever pissed me off over the head with it time and time again until they’ve appropriately sucked up and begged forgiveness. This becomes problematic when said person doesn’t want to apologize or beg profusely…DANG! I’ve gotten better over the years and hubby has certainly helped by not given in when I am acting like a 2-year-old.
    You are right. In my professional life, I often ask “what is your definition of success” when assigned a task or event to lead. Because you need to know the end goal before you start to be successful. This could totally apply in relationships especially when you are trying to sort out a tough situation…knowing where you want to be helps keep you focused. Instead of just ranting like an insolent child – which I’ve been known to do. I KNOW…shocker. LOL!!
    GREAT post Jenny!

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  11. I think there are some times when anger isn’t necessarily linked to hurt or fear, although most of the time it probably is. I’m thinking of times when we see other people mistreated, even strangers, and we feel anger about that. There is no fear or hurt, just a “righteous” anger over someone else being treated badly.

    I’m very rarely angry. I learned a long time ago that it just doesn’t help me at all to feel that way. Of course, there are times when anger just happens as an emotional response, but when it does, I don’t hang onto it. I deal with it and get over it. Because it’s counter-productive to be angry.

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  12. Stacy Green says:

    Anger is almost always an expression of hurt or fear, and for me the hard part has always been not lashing out. I’m sensitive and can be hot tempered, but I’ve settled down over the last ten years. I’ve learned to take a step back and decide whether or not the issue is really worth being upset over. Doesn’t always work, but I’m getting there.

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  13. K.B. Owen says:

    By the way, after I tweeted Jenny’s post today, here’s a gem I got back from Jane Lebak about anger. See what you think of this definition and approach:

    “Anger is a symptom of a boundary violation; find the violation & deal with it & anger disappears.”

    Brilliant, don’t you think? Now I have even more to think about!😀

    Like

  14. Sharla Rae says:

    I have an Irish temper. Push, push and push and I take a ho-hum yawn but at some point I do want to explode. I “usually” don’t. (No one’s perfect) Instead, I always ask myself three little questions. Will this thing or person that angers me change me and my life today? Will it effect me a few days from now? Wil it effect me a month from now. Almost always the answer is NO! This “no” answer means I need to walk away from the emotional drain. While the “no” answers may not completely soothe my Irish, they do put things in perspective so that I don’t make an *** of myself. 🙂

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      But see, Sharla, I’m a rabble-rouser underneath it all. If I had as much pushing at me as you do, I might have to engage in a good donkey barbecue once in a while. LOL…

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  15. zkullis says:

    When I was a kid, and I would get in a fight with my brothers or at school, sometimes my excuse was “Because he made me angry.” My father (after getting angry with me, which I always thought was pretty ironic) would share the same nugget of sage advice; nobody can MAKE you feel anything. He would tell me that I had a choice in how I responded to a situation.

    Now that I have grown up a little, I realize just how smart that point of view is. Why should I allow another person to dictate my emotions? Saying or thinking that somebody made me feel a certain way is giving up self-control. The truth is that other people do or say things that illicit an emotional response from me.

    I am like Renée. I’m pretty easy going, and it is fairly easy for me to let negative emotional triggers roll away like water off a duck’s back. The key for mere here is perspective. How big of a deal is this? There are people in this world that don’t have food to eat or clean water to drink, am I honestly going to allow (insert situation) to push my buttons? Sometimes I have to go through this in my head like a mantra.

    However, there are things that still trigger strong, emotional, and angry emotions, despite my attempts at controlling them. How do I deal with that anger? The first thing I do is take myself out of the situation (if possible). Then I do something physically exhausting to dump all of the excess energy and adrenaline. This usually involves going to the gym at work, during a lunch break, and hitting some heavy weights and pounding the living snot out of a heavy sparring bag. Maybe it is Cro-Magnon, or even juvenile, but I know it works for me.

    As far as your “Hurt and Fear” theory, I think that anger is born from some trigger that attacks an emotion that is a sensitive part of your psyche. It could be hurt, fear, or some kind of inequity/injustice that really gets your goat and makes you want to set it right. That is, of course, only my personal opinion. 😉

    I work in federal law enforcement, and am often put in situations where I could very easily get angry. But it would be detrimental to what I am doing to allow that emotional response to alter my behavior. I have worked cases ranging from a horrendous murder spree to counter terrorism (which is my current focus). I am also on our Division’s SWAT team. Anger is not an option because it is a powerful emotion that can blind judgment. With all of those negative triggers, I find myself in the gym on a daily basis, pounding out the emotion.

    All of the posts have been very insightful, and have been unique to the individual. It leads me to believe that anger and the source of our anger is a very personal and complicated set of exterior triggers and internal responses. Here is what I think: Knowing our core values and areas of sensitivity, knowing what external triggers get our goat, and then knowing how to stabilize ourselves once we are feeling angry are key elements of dealing with anger.

    I apologize for the long and verbose reply. Hopefully it didn’t put anybody to sleep! 😀
    Cheers, and happy Thursday,

    Zack…

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You give a well-thought out reply like this whenever you wish to, Zack.🙂

      I’d imagine temper has little place in a job like yours. And lovely to see how much thought you’ve put into your anger. Your dad sounds like a wicked smart guy!

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      • zkullis says:

        Thanks Jenny! You’re right, it has no place, and that kind of attitude has kind of carried over to my personal life. But it still adds up. I’ve been known to knock the heavy bag off its chains. :/ My Dad was a wicked smart guy, especially for marrying my mother. She is the heartbeat of the family.
        Thanks again for the wonderful post and thought-provoking content.

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  16. I’ve never sat down to dissect my anger, like you Jenny, it wears me out to dwell in it. I think Kathy via Jane Lebak hit on it: “Anger is a symptom of a boundary violation; find the violation & deal with it & anger disappears.”

    However, I love the endgame approach. I can see that working for most arguments, no matter which emotion is spurring it on.

    A fabulous, thought provoking post Jenny!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Raelyn. I got pissed off at someone over the weekend and, when I thought about it, it came directly from fear. Which got me thinking. We talked about it a few days later and all was well. I didn’t even have to bring it up, which ROCKED.🙂

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  17. Julie Glover says:

    I agree with 90% of this–that anger is typically destructive and born of hurt and fear. However, as Lauralynn pointed out, there is such a thing as righteous anger. My anger at the existence of cancer has motivated me to raise awareness and give to charities that fight against it. My anger at childhood slavery in Ghana, Africa motivated me to play in a 49-hour baseball game fundraiser and pray for those children and their situation. There can be a positive channel for anger if it doesn’t overtake you and is focused on injustice. At least that’s my take on it.

    Great Thursday thoughts, Jenny.

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  18. Mike Paulson says:

    I must agree that my own anger nearly always stems from some sort of underlying hurt, fear, or frustration. I realized this morning that the source of anger I expressed toward my wife yesterday was stemming from a frustration that I couldn’t put into words at the time – frustration over a lack of understanding of some of the rules in our relationship. I feel hurt because I feel like my half of the marriage is being neglected or misunderstood.

    The most difficult part of the process of getting past anger, in my opinion, is seeing the other person’s point of view. Most of my anger subsides when I can truly see the situation at hand from, in this case, my wife’s viewpoint. This requires both of us to get past the anger, and let each other understand the underlying emotions at hand.

    I agree with Julie Glover, though, that there are times that anger has positive outcomes, but even then, the anger is just a cover for an underlying emotion. Taking the childhood slavery example, anger at the situation could simply be covering a fear of seeing children being hurt, or an empathic fear of being in that situation. One of the highlights of humanity is our ability to feel for other human beings (or animals, etc.), and seeing those we feel as vulnerable treated harshly provokes these emotions.

    I, personally, have more or less failed at dealing well with my anger. I tend to bury it at best, saving it to bring back out later. I will be focusing on using some of the ideas in this post to get past my anger and deal with the reasons I am angry.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Mike, we call that whole looking at the big picture thing and looking at your own actions: “Cleaning up your side of the street.”

      There is nothing harder (in my humble opinion) than making the effort to clean up your side of the street while the other person leaves big cow patties steaming over on their side of the street.

      I think looking at the end game (and perhaps enlisting a great counselor for a few sessions) will work wonders on the equality of the give and take between you. Marriage is SUCH hard work, isn’t it? Good for you for working at it…BRAVO!🙂

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  19. Those are good points, but there are things that make me very angry and I’m not sure how they relate to hurt or fear on my part. For instance, I get VERY angry when I read/hear about animal abuse (or people abuse). It makes me sick to see pictures of animals (or humans) who have been senselessly brutalized. I guess it hurts my heart, but my response is pure unadulterated anger. I want to hurt the person who inflicted the violence.

    But, anyway, that’s just me wondering.

    I used to smoke when I got really mad. I was never a smoker, but I’d light up a cigarette whenever I was really really angry. It calmed me down. I don’t get mad very often. And I don’t do the cigarette thing any more either. Things irritate me, but I really don’t get truly mad very often. I’m pretty easy to get along with. I get my feelings hurt but I usually let that go after several years of holding a grudge. You don’t want to get on my bad side. I do hold grudges.

    So those are my thoughts for today. Interesting post.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I love your thoughts for the day, as usual! If you look at Kathy Owen’s second comment above, you might find an interesting explanation for your anger over the things you mention. There’s nothing wrong with being offended by people pushing the boundaries of decency.

      p.s. Good for you for giving up the cigs. It’s a hard, hard habit to break.

      Like

  20. I’m with you, Jenny, angry just makes me tired. I’ve found that if I can figure out why, then it usually goes away and even if I can’t figure it out, thinking defuses being angry. I do think a spouse can KNOW exactly what button to push to bring on the crazy train, if they don’t want to have to deal with the problem. I’ve been married long enough to usually recognize when I’m being wound up, though sometimes tired just trumps everything. And if I’m hungry and tired? Look out! (grin)

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Tired does trump everything, doesn’t it? My hubby really only pisses me off when he’s tired and cranky. The rest of the time he’s very easy going. But, as I’m sure you and your honey have figured out…if you can still enjoy each other (mostly) when you’re tired and cranky, you’ve got it made.🙂

      Like

  21. tomwisk says:

    Getting angry is a stop along the path we travel we can’t afford to take. It slows us down. Puts our time in some else’s hands. Why should something that will pass slow us down on our journey?

    Like

  22. amyshojai says:

    Wow, how timely. I seem to mostly get angry over something I perceive to be unfair, unkind, or disrespectful to me or those I care about. It seems to happen more and more lately. Maybe I care more, or feel less in control, I dunno. But since very often these things arise out of online connections, my best method is to simply shut off the ‘net and go play with the fur-kids.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Amy, rudeness and disrespect irk the hell out of me too.

      I’ve realized that part of that stems from my fear that kindness and courtesy are slowly being erased from our society. I cringe sometimes when I meet uncaring people that will be of an age to care for me in my senior years. Makes my blood run cold to think about it.

      Like

  23. Catie Rhodes says:

    When I get angry, my temper can be explosive. As I get older, I get better at catching myself. A lot of the time, I can catch myself before I ever say the first word. It’s important to note that my first words are usually something like “You mofo! Blah blah blah.” Mofo is my battle cry.

    I’m like Amy Shojai. Disrespect infuriates me. For me, the emotions surrounding it can be traced back to both hurt and fear. It hurts my feelings, and I fear losing status.

    I learned the fear of losing status from my father. I remember he and my uncle turning over this guy’s car who had disrespected them in some way. It was one of those 1960s VW Beetles. Remember how they were kind of rounded? Daddy and Uncle just lifted up one end and sort of rolled it onto its roof. The owner didn’t dare retaliate.

    Now Daddy is old, but he still thinks he’s Shaft. Not long ago, I was home visiting and he got into an argument in a parking lot. There I sat in the truck knowing if it went very far I’d have to get out and do something.

    You know how you plan in a situation like that. So there I sat trying to remember where Daddy kept the machete he carries around with him and wishing my husband or one of my male cousins was there. Can you dig it?

    Old habits die hard.

    One thing I try to keep in mind is that I choose to get angry. Another commenter has brought this up, so I won’t talk too much about it. You’ve given me a new tool today, though. From now on, I’ll ask myself what I hope to accomplish if I act out my anger. Of course, I’ll have to coach myself that, “I’ll show them is what I’ll accomplish” is not a good answer.

    Great post, Jenny.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Catie, what a beautiful comment! And your dad sounds like a character. I’ve never heard of traveling around with a machete. Guns? Yes. But a machete? That’s a new one.

      I’m lucky that I have a quieter temper – more of a deadly simmer, rather than an explosion – so it’s a rare thing for me to start a fight but I’ve had to learn to walk away from them.

      That fear of losing status is SO true. I wonder how many people are spurred to anger from that exact fear. Hmmmmm. Seriously great thinking material, Catie!

      p.s. I know this wasn’t’ meant to be funny, but I think this is like the best line ever: “Mofo is my battle cry.” That has serious ROFL capability in fiction.🙂

      Like

      • Catie Rhodes says:

        Oh, but it was meant to be funny. You have to inject some humor when you talk about stuff like this. It’s not a funny topic at all, but…have you ever read any Larry McMurtry? He has this quote from Texasville that says, “Sometimes it’s either laugh about nothing or cry about everything.” That’s also true when you’re talking about serious stuff like this. Sometimes you have to inject some humor or it’ll turn into a bloodbath. LOL

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  24. Karen McFarland says:

    Hi Jenny!

    “There is no anger. There’s only hurt and fear.”

    Very interesting. You know I’m Irish, right? So when I was young, oh boy could I spew. Yet slowly, over time, I recognized what a waste of energy that was. My mother is narcissistic, but my saving grace was my father. He always told us that people are who they are for a reason. That helped me to understand that we cannot always take people at face value. We need to look deeper. There is good reason why they act the way they do. Then there is my oldest son who believes that when he gets angry with someone else he is actually angry with himself. (Very wise at 32, if I don’t say so myself.) So while I don’t usually get angry, I can get frustrated. I am the person whose voice you hear when you read my posts. I don’t do fake nor am I superficial. Now, I’m not saying that at times I, like anyone else, can’t put my foot in my mouth and say something that someone else may take offense at, making them angry. And if I do, I would only hope that I would be given the chance to apologize and make things right with them. I can’t always expect that someone else is going to use the same rule that I live by. I can only hope.🙂

    Thanks Jenny for a very insightful post!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      My only Irish hint for you is your name and those big blue eyes of yours.🙂

      Isn’t it extraordinary to hear such wisdom from a child you’ve raised? I love hearing stories like that. Good job, Mom!

      Like

      • Karen McFarland says:

        Ah yes, my maiden name was Murphy. And thank you for the compliment. I have to say that you received so many awesome comments Jenny. You wrote a wonderful post today.🙂

        Like

  25. Jenny, this is like your post on grief. Your thoughts and the ensuing comments are so authentic and reflective, you could publish a support handbook for people working through anger issues! Well done, all!

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Sweet, Patricia…I don’t know about a support handbook, but I sure wish I could bottle up all these thought-provoking comments and spread them around the world. SUCH a great group here!

      Like

  26. Debra Kristi says:

    I don’t like to sound generic but I have to agree that anger sprouts from hurt and fear. Mine is usually about something involving the kids or the home life so the violation of boundaries really rings true to me. Anger really is an exhausting emotion and I think more can be accomplished if we are able to keep it in check. Great post, Jenny.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      How could YOU ever sound generic, Debra? Please.

      Yep, that boundary theory really turned things in a whole new light for me too.🙂 Thanks bunches for coming over here and taking time to comment!

      Like

  27. Terrific post! Totally agree with you that anger comes from hurt and fear, I see this daily in patients. Thank you for sharing Counselor Guy’s super secret trick; going to remember that one!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Serena! And welcome back. We missed you this summer.

      Counselor Guy has ensured that i have a stellar time being married. Even when Hubby and I are in the busy, crabby stages that parenting brings, we have a pretty great time (mostly due to the time we took at the beginning of our marriage with CG).

      Like

  28. Hey Jenny, your post on FB today caught my eye. Don’t know how I missed this discussion before. So many profound thoughts about anger. I’d heard a lot of them before, either in my own therapy or in my training as a therapist, but a few ideas were new, even to me.

    Anger is a basic emotion; young babies have an ‘angry’ cry. But it does usually relate either to a boundary violation (just ask someone who’s had their house burglarized) and/or to other emotions, hurt and fear being the primary relatives. Another emotion it can spring from is guilt. Guilt is very uncomfortable so when we feel guilty about something we did to someone else, we sometimes get angry at them, as a way to fend off that bad feeling. Which of course, adds insult to injury for the person we harmed.

    Let me put a warning out here. Even though expressing anger directly and as vehemently as you would like to is almost always counterproductive, it is psychologically dangerous to ignore it or try to suppress it. My first therapist likened it to pockets of lava inside a volcano, looking for cracks from which to spew.

    So it’s important to vent the anger to dispel its energy (in Latin, the word for emotion is ‘exmovere,’ energy that moves). We have to get it out of our systems, so doing something like going to the gym is absolutely necessary.

    I have a terrible temper, and the only thing that saves me (most of the time) is being a writer. I sit down and write out what I would like to say to the person. Then I save it and look at it again the next day. The act of writing it out often got the anger out of my system enough that I can either let the issue go or address it more calmly. Unfortunately there are still those times when I don’t stop to do this but just lash out.

    Still working on that! Thanks for a great post and a great discussion.

    Like

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