Food for Thought: Anger Avoidance
Are you an anger avoider? Do you think anger is bad, dangerous or ugly?
Is anger something to be avoided at all costs? Are you scared of anger in yourself and/or others?
Anger avoiders squirm uncomfortably when they have to deal with their anger or other’s anger.
What are they scared of? Lots of things such as loss of control, rejection, punishment and guilt. Anger avoidance is very common in our society today.
In many subtle ways we are told over and over, to hold in our anger. Be nice no matter what.
Get angry and you could lose your job, reputation, marriage and friends. Instead of recognizing it as part of being human, we learn to ignore our anger. Everybody gets angry, it is what we do with that anger that is important.
You pay a huge price when you ignore your anger. Avoiding anger take a heavy toll on your personal well-being.
If you are an anger avoider your losses range from not getting what you want to suffering physical illness and depression.
Anger tells you something is wrong and that you are not getting what you want. Maybe it is a day off from work, or some new clothes or being respected by your partner.
By not saying anything, anger builds up into frustration and is likely to come out in ways that you don’t want it to.
Anger avoiders lose part of themselves. They don’t feel very good about themselves. They think of themselves in terms of doormat, weakling, etc.
They give up their power and begin to depend on others or run away. Often they can’t quite figure out what is wrong. If anything they try to be nicer, always less angry. That is their style and that is how they try to solve life’s problems.
Some anger avoiders turn their anger against themselves because they think it is safer to hurt themselves than others. They become self abusers, cutters and punish themselves over and over with anger that is really meant for others.
Anger avoiders sometimes develop physical and emotional illnesses. They get depressed, headaches, ulcers and allergic reactions. They eat too much to stuff down their anger, drink too much trying to forget or spend too much hoping to make themselves happy.
Anger avoiders are often called stuffers and blowers. They keep stuffing their anger down until one day they just blow and start raging. Many times their rages are over insignificant things. The rage is usually followed by guilt.
If you are an anger avoider you might try the following suggestions:
- Tell the person you are angry with what you want.
- Learn it is OK for people to get angry.
- Let others be angry.
Anger is normal. It is what we do about it and how it is expressed that is important.
- You can still be a good person even if you get angry.
- Make a list of behaviors that you would approve of in a friend who needed to get some respect or stand up for himself.
Everyone needs space and respect. They also need to have boundaries for physical and emotional safety.
Anger is the energy that helps you achieve a balance between giving and taking and helps you set healthy boundaries for yourself.
Dr. Leta A. Livoti Ph.D, LCSW, LCPC is a psychotherapist in Thompson Falls. She can be contacted at 827-0700.