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what NOT to do with anger

Posted May 17 2010 10:04am

In response to Ann's question about what to do with anger, I thought I'd take a crack at it with some thoughts about what not to do with anger.

Just a bit of a different way to coming at the idea.

Number 1 thing: don't turn it inward. Just don't. Anger turned inward has such bad consequences- it leads to lots of things you guys know about, like starving, over-exercising, bingeing, purging, harming yourselves in other ways, depression, anxiety... lots of yucky, painful, and damaging stuff.

Number 2: don't let yourself ignore it or pretend it doesn't exist (see Number 1 for reasons why :)

Number 3: don't tell yourself that anger is an abnormal emotion that no one (especially "decent, good people, perfect people") else but you has. It IS a normal human experience to feel anger sometimes (how people learn to express anger is where problems come in, not with the emotion itself)

Number 4: don't berate, criticize, demonize or otherwise be hateful to yourself for feeling anger (or any other emotion of course!)

Ok, so I do realize that while this list is accurate and worthwhile, it isn't always easy to accomplish. SO, in the interest of making the list as doable as possible, here's a little list of things TO do when you feel angerdo acknowledge your emotion
do remind yourself that everyone, yes everyone, experiences anger
do tell a friend what you're feeling
do give yourself a pat on the back for being brave enough to feel what you feel
do take care of yourself in expressing anger- write, draw, talk, text, email, dance a jig (if you are healthy enough to be active, so there...), cry, yell at a tree... don't let yourself express anger in ways     that are damaging or dangerous to yourself or others
do let yourself eat, sleep, have fun, be silly... all those good, normal daily life things.... even, yes even     if/when you feel angry (in other words, don't make yourself "compensate" for anger by depriving
    yourself of other normal life things- doing so is a way of punishing yourself for feeling anger and     you don't at all need to punish yourself for feeling any feeling)

Ok, that was off the top of my head. It's one of those add-on lists that we do, so feel free to contribute to the list!

The most important thing, of course, is to remind yourself that it's ok to feel whatever you feel, including anger. Emotions are normal. And then you get to work on expressing that emotion in ways that are life-enhancing to you instead of restricting and damaging.
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