AngerNov 27, 2022
Some time ago, I was talking with a boy and he said, "Sometimes I get so angry... and when I get angry, I do things that I don't mean to do. I can't help it." He paused, looked at me with vulnerable eyes, and asked, "Can you fix me?"
I was surprised by his question. I was moved that this young man had a level of self-awareness regarding this issue; I was also thrilled that he was motivated to start making changes in his life for the better. I will also admit, in my human-ness, that my heart broke a little, too, because I knew this kiddo had gone through a lot in his life already.
Can you relate to this little boy? I know I can.
It's easy to lash out when you're angry. It sometimes feels good to say and do things to hurt someone else when you feel that they have wronged you. It's easy to be passive-aggressive and drop little remarks here and there. But the satisfaction doesn't last, and is detrimental to yourself and your relationships with others.
I replied to him, "I can't fix you. But I think I can help you find tools inside of yourself to work on your anger. The most important question to ask yourself is, 'Why? Why am I angry?' Many times, anger is an emotion that rises up and takes the stage when you're actually feeling sadness, embarrassment, guilt, loneliness, fear, or some other feeling. Someone may say or do something, never actually meaning to make you angry in the first place. But if what they say or do sparks something in you that reminds you of something bad that happened in the past, then you might try to protect yourself.... and sometimes we protect ourselves by pushing people away with our words or actions."
He nodded in understanding and said, "I do that."
I told him that it was important to create some space for him to understand himself better - in a loving way, without judgment.
This was a new concept for him - I could tell that he felt anger and disappointment towards himself when he had outbursts.
I also normalized some of his emotions - it made sense that he would want to protect himself if he felt that someone wronged him. But... did they really wrong him? Did they mean to wrong him? Were they just playing or being silly? Perhaps they didn't understand that they were pecking at one of his pain points.
If we gave the other person the benefit of the doubt and they didn't intend to hurt or anger him, then how would this inform his reaction to what they were saying or doing?
What if, instead of reacting, we could pause in the moment and ask which emotion we were really feeling? Irritation? Fear? Maybe he felt misunderstood. Maybe he felt unloved, or unappreciated.
His face lightened.
"I do feel safe where I am now. I didn't always feel that way."
"Maybe they don't understand what I've been through. Or maybe they can't help the way they act." (He was referring to a friend who had ADHD and was a little intrusive and impulsive at times.)
This is where the real inner work begins: addressing the negative emotions and thoughts that constantly sit in the background of our minds until they show up in big ways.... and being able to shed light on them so that we can say good-bye to maladaptive ways of functioning and create new, healthier ways to manage our thoughts, our feelings, our relationship with ourselves, and our relationships with others.
If you can relate to this boy, know that you’re not alone and that you can work through these emotions. If you’re interested in coaching with me, email me at [email protected]. You may also opt-in to our email updates by visiting our About page, scrolling down, and clicking on "I'm ready to learn more!"
Have an amazing week!
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