No, no, I’m not angry about anything right now! Everything’s just fine. If you’re looking for drama, I’m not serving that up today. I’m just thinking about anger.
The book club meeting I attended on Zoom (of course, no in-person meetings for me!) today got on the topic of things we struggle with, and I brought up the fact that I totally suck at getting angry. The very nice women in the meeting were quite supportive of me, and the consensus was not to expect to be great at something you don’t have a lot of experience with. They were right!
Even as a child, I was discouraged from getting angry. If my little brother pestered me, I was told to, “Just ignore him.” And if I did get angry and yell or hit back after he slapped me, I’d get spanked. So, I fairly quickly learned to bottle up any anger I had and to arrange things to be as peaceful as possible in my little world.
Hence, I ended up an Enneagram Number Nine. As the website says:
Key Motivations: Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them.Enneagram Type 9
That probably also explains my initial resistance to change, even the good kind!
Another thing it explains is why I’m always trying to attain some sort of spiritual transcendence; it’s another way to escape the real world. At least I have the sense to know that “the only way out is through,” and am coming to terms with the whole “life is suffering” concept.
Anyhow, I am just not good at getting angry. Not one bit. I can’t be like Anita, who often declares she’s angry at this that or the other, but she just expresses herself strongly. I keep thinking, “Why is she angry at that? I’m sad, or…some other emotion.” That’s because if I try to express anger, it scares the pee out of people. You know, I also learned from my family or origin how to have a very sharp passive-aggressive tongue. Oopsie.
I can actually remember the two or three times I let my anger spill out. After one time, I was never able to bring myself into a particular community again. I just left and never came back. I’ve only let myself express anger at my spouse a couple of times in all these years. I just get snippy on occasion then over-apologize for it.
Dang, I need to learn how to legitimately express anger when it’s appropriate without alienating people forever, or turning into a sniveling ball of self-abuse. Those seem to be my main anger outlets. I’m just not equipped to be an angry mob of one, I guess.
As my colleagues in the book club pointed out, it helps to remember you’re angry at a situation. (And I point out that it helps to remember people are doing the best they can; though when I’m angry at an institution, that’s hard to apply.) If kindness is my main value, I should apply it to both the object of my anger AND me, right?
This is pitiful, I know, but I Googled “effectively express anger” (because, how else do you figure things out these days?) and I got this:
- Address An Issue Immediately Before It Escalates. …
- Take A Walk. …
- Try A Simple Breathing Technique. …
- Try Getting In Some Rigorous Exercise. …
- Journaling Can Be Another Great Way To Process Anger. …
- Meditate On It.
Here’s the source of this list, so you’ll know I didn’t do this lack of parallel construction
Well, I do all that! That’s not expressing anger, it’s dealing with anger. Those are all the tools I use to maintain the peace and not rock the boat.
I turned to that oracle of knowledge, WikiHow, who went through all the above anger mitigation techniques that I already do, then FINALLY gave some advice on how to express it! That’s what I wanted!
Choose to express your anger assertively. Assertive expression of anger is the most constructive way to express your anger. Assertiveness cultivates mutual respect for each other. You can still express your anger, but you do so in a way that doesn’t accuse the other person. You have mutual respect for each other.
- Assertive communication emphasizes that both people’s needs are important. To communicate assertively, give the facts without making accusations. Simply state how the action made you feel. Stick to what you know and not what you think you know. Then ask the other person if he is willing to talk. 
- For example, you might say: “I was hurt and angry because I felt like you were belittling my project when you laughed during my presentation. Can we talk and work this out?”
That one’s from How to Express Anger without Hurting People (with pictures).
Enough with the background colors. I didn’t mean to make you all sick.
After reading the information, I conclude that it makes sense, and sounds a lot like things I’d read in all my “how to get along with people” courses and such. I know I try to do that, and sometimes do. I just need to work on my tone, maybe.
In any case, if you have an anger problem, whether inability to express it or expressing it too much, how have you dealt with it? There’s so much anger in the world right now, it might be helpful to band together and make an effort to say what upsets us without turning the audience away completely.
I shall now go look at nice, happy animals and stop with all this self-analysis.