Years ago I worked for a company that sold accounting software. They charged for tech support, and my job was to take the incoming calls from people needing tech support, get a credit card number, and then transfer them to the tech support guys.
Of course, some people didn’t like the idea of being charged for technical support, especially when their accounting software wasn’t working. One day a call came in, and per the script, I asked “Who am I speaking with?”
“Joe Angry!” was the curt response. Without even thinking twice, I asked, “How can I help you today Mr. Angry?” He WAS angry. I talked him down a bit, and when I called him Mr. Angry again, he said more calmly, “My name is John, it’s just that I’m feeling angry because this software of yours is not working.” He went from being angry, to feeling angry. He was able to get one step removed from his anger.
The difference is subtle but important. We can feel anger so strongly and deeply that we start to become the anger. It becomes “who we are”. We start to identify with it and may begin to feel that if we let it go, we give up a very real part of ourselves. For some of us, this may be the only part of us that feels powerful or that we feel can affect the world, and anger can become our only tool for getting what we want or need.
Of course, the fact is that we are not ever any single emotion, we are beings that have an emotional landscape that allows us to feel anger, as well as joy, happiness, sadness, frustration, etc.
When we continually assert and affirm “I am angry!” then we can become possessed by anger. “I am” is a very powerful affirmation. It can take control of us in ways that are ultimately dis-empowering as well as destructive when it becomes a habitual way of being.
Of course, to feel angry is to feel human emotion. We can begin to take control and manage our anger if we fully accept and understand that we will feel angry at times, and resolving to let go of shame or guilt about having angry feelings.
One way to keep anger as a feeling and to avoid having it become who we are is to simply state, to ourselves or to others: “I feel angry” or “When that happens (or when you say that or do that), I feel angry.” This way we keep anger where it belongs, in the realm of what we feel, as an emotion, that, like a storm, will pass. It allows us to become one step removed from the anger, giving us more choices as to how we will handle this feeling.
Then we can respond to anger ; we become responsible for our anger. It’s the difference between “This is who I am” and “This is what I’m feeling.” I may not be able to help what I am, but I can respond to what I’m feeling.
Using the metaphor of the emotional landscape, we are able to see that we are passing through anger, and that if we choose to walk through it, we will soon be out the other side. We don’t need to proclaim that who we are is anger, because then it doesn’t matter where we journey, because where ever you go, there you are: Mr. or Mrs. Angry.
Give yourself permission to feel the rocky path of anger, and keep walking. Trust that a different emotion, maybe even joy, awaits around the corner.
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Your companion on the journey to transformation,
Ted A. MorenoSuccess Performance Coach Certified Hypnotherapist
Photo by Skye Moorehead.