“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naïve forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” – Thomas Szasz
Anger is a feeling with a bad reputation. The ideas which have developed around anger can make something simple seem complex. When I reference the simplicity of anger, it’s not to take away the seriousness of feeling angry. Anger is one of the core feelings which humans can have, which help us navigate life.
Anger can be trained out of a person – this happens through developing the ability to suppress it. A child showing irritation may be stopped with words or actions from insensitive adults. The anger still exists in the child, who may become a person who has trained himself not to feel it but how?
What doesn’t get verbally vomited out remains inside, festering. Toxic build up of unexpressed anger can be manifested in the body. Albert Ellis said, “ Actually, anger and rage show your weakness…. They take a great physical toll – often bringing on undue stress, high blood pressure, intestinal problems, cardiac disabilities, and worsening of other physical problems.”
Suppression of anger can look like forgiveness, but it isn’t accounting for the offense with reality. Without awareness to process the offense – in steps denial. Expression of anger can be healthy. It can remain connected to the event which triggered the experience. This includes acknowledging the offense, accounting for its impact, dealing with the effects, and then setting a better boundary through apologies and forgiveness.
How can we keep anger simple? First, pay attention to when it shows up. The anger is distinct from feeling sad or afraid. There is a reason you feel angry, and it is usually because you experienced some form of disrespect. If it is perceived disrespect then clarifying with the offender will be a quick remedy.
One Thing to Do: Remember that anger is a signal. It can remain a signal when you attend to it with speed and accuracy. Clarifying can keep anger from being suppressed or over-expressed.
Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S. LPC.