I wish someone would have asked me that question and held space for me to get to the answer(s) in my 20s.
There are so many men walking around looking just fine but within, they’re super angry. This can lead to passive-aggressive behavior, self-hate, poor relationships, health problems, etc., etc., etc.
Anger tends to house guilt and shame. Guilt and shame are the driving forces of all sorts of addictions including drug abuse, over eating, gambling, etc which are all coping strategies.
Having anger issues may even lead to physically hurting someone and paying for it, with jail time. Going to jail for any of us is for sure a “game over” situation. Not many can recover from that.
I was such an angry person, I knew I needed to fix this because I’d rather die than keep hiding this feeling which just leads to, internally suffering day in and day out for decades. I was not getting any better at hiding it as well.
What hurt the most was trying to hide it from my daughter.
I’d be washing dishes and just stewing in my anger when she’d ask, “Are you ok Papa?” Her questioned jolted my nervous system. I’d let her know I was fine but wasn’t, not even close to fine.
Her asking served as a pattern interrupt until the next time I started spinning my anger wheels. I remember being so scared she would think it was about her. (Children tend to think whatever is going on with their parents must be partly their fault. )
Later I’d learn as a child, I was not allowed to feel, which explains why I was lost at feeling, expressing, and processing emotions. Back then, telling anyone was a big no-no so in the heat of my tortured soul moments, I would not even know where to start to tell anyone. You can read about my childhood by clicking here.
My wife would actually hear me talking aloud while I cleaned. I’d be talking about how much I hate my parents. For sure, she was concerned. Anyone else may have called me a schizophrenic.
On the outside, I was cheerful, playful, and looked like I had it together. On the inside, I was constantly trying to contain a tsunami of toxic emotions such as guilt, shame, resentment, and anger being the biggest one. Actually, I didn’t know about the full range of emotions we humans have access to. I knew happy, sad, and anger. I was two years old in the emotional intelligence category.
If I did not fix this, I’d risked my family thinking something is wrong with them. Oh, hell no! My family is everything to me and I’d never make them responsible for my personal issues so decided I will handle this.
On my early 20s my goal in life was to become a wellness professional and author. I didn’t see this happening while I hid the fact that on so many levels emotionally I was lost. This was even more motivation to handle this.
If you have anger issues, start by reading the book “Letting Go”. Actually, this book is one of the best books I’ve ever read in the area of becoming emotionally free and highly self-actualized . Here’s a summary.
I did tons of work in the area of emotions. So much so, today I’m mostly at peace and when an old pattern gets triggered and wants to run as fast as it can while dragging me for the ride, I never let it, because I see it coming a mile away.
Instead of writing a whole book on the subject today, I will leave you with one of the biggest pieces to this puzzle, whatever you feel is not bad, right, wrong or indifferent, it’s a feeling and it needs to feel.
Something you can do right now
So say you feel angry. Welcome it. Let it feel. You can even express it.
For me, I write or talk to myself but instead of saying something that keeps me stuck and small emotionally, I say the following.
I’m angry. I welcome this feeling and I am not bad for feeling this. Then I move on to, even though I am angry, I accept myself. Once the cloud passes, I can investigate. In most cases, the “anger” is a disappointment, and labeling everything as anger is just an old habit. Dig a little deeper, it was a slight disappointment. There’s another step and it’s when I ask, “what am I learning?”
If you’re reading this for the first time, you may be thinking I’m nuts, or this is stupid. It’s not and I’ve helped many people come out of some very intense emotional prisons using the above framework.
The foundation of healing your pain is to first accept it and give it space to feel. Up until now, most of us just push it down, shame it, pretend it’s not there, etc. All this does is make us feel even more entangled emotionally.
Think about a 3-year-old coming to you with tears in his/her eyes. Would you tell the child to shut up, feeling is dumb, how dare you, no time for feeling?
Or, would you quickly check to make sure there is nothing physically wrong then open your arms welcoming the child to just come, be safe and do “sadness” for as long as it takes, and if we need to talk, we can always do it later.
Option two is going to be a home-run. The first approach is going to create an angry adult that doesn’t know-how or even wants to feel anything.
Why do this work? Because if we don’t, we can’t ever get to what’s really bothering us and heal.
Another reason is, the best way to make the world a better place is to make us better. If not, we risk not only being a burden to ourselves, we become a burden to others.