I remember one particular day working in prison where I had a group of ‘the boys’ with their eyes placed firmly onto me waiting for me to impart some great and useful wisdom. I announced to them that, “you’re all here for doing the same thing”. They puzzled when I asked if anyone knew what their collective crime was,
“You’re here cos you got angry”, I said. Next question was, “Is it OK to be angry”?
They thought they’d better all answer in the negative.
“Tis fine to be angry”, I replied “anger can be a positive force”.
“Anger rules the world the world” I also said.
They seemed even more puzzled.
“Tis what you do when you’re angry that counts”, I added. “Can you figure out a way to be angry without causing any harm”? I then challenged.
Many anger management courses teach you to take ‘time out’ when angry. Taking time out sure is a useful thing to do. They teach you to never try discussing something when you’re hot. And it is true that few positive gains are made when people are full-on angry.
Anger management manuals teach us to discuss what is annoying us at a later stage after we have cooled down and regained ‘our objectivity’.
This is all excellent advice yet somehow may seem amiss; lacking something. We just want to get our anger ‘heard’ whilst it is in full flight.
And, I believe, there may be vaid reasons to do so.
But I’m certainly not recommending that we all get out there dumping anger in dangerous ways that hurt someone.
Dumping is dangerous and herein lies an important key.
We ‘dump’ when we aim, whether unconsciously or not to misplace our anger onto someone else. We try to make another person or ‘thing’ that which is responsible for our anger. We like to think that someone or something else ‘made’ us angry or ‘turned’ us into a homicidal maniac.
So we retaliate by shewing forth any insults and punishments we consider deserved and suitable.
I know extremely few (I can only think of about 3 people right at this moment) who have the capacity to get angry without insulting anyone else in the process. A very small number in view of the hundreds of people I know.
One of them I taught in anger management class, another (one of my lovers) seemed to inherently have the gift and another one is a friend who has worked on and acquired the skill.
Unfortunately such a small number of people; but a worthy and lofty task to which I feel suitably motivated to try to make others aware of if and whenever possible.
If you can master the art of being angry without insulting or hurting anyone it is indeed a wonderful thing that can transform the life of others and yourself in a very positive way. It was a wonderful experience for me to be able to fight with the lover I earlier mentioned; we could scream, yell and wave our arms around in a dance of full blown and passionate anger and feel completely enlivened with a much greater understanding of each other a few hours later without any nasty and lingering, unwanted side effects.
After a life of abusive relationships I felt I had hit the jackpot; the right to being angry and completely expressing it was a never a privilege that could be granted from the inside of abusive relationships. And abusers who are trying to ‘dump’ their anger do not feel completely heard either. Dumping is not satisfying; it can only misplace the real source of your anger temporarily.
Many people think that their relationships are successful if they never fight or share harsh words. But if people are close they will fight. Fighting is an important tool for enhancing intimacy and growing closer.
Think about this for a while; it is possible to be angry and fight without causing emotional or physical hurt or using insults.
Then I’ll come back in a few days and write a sequel; where I will give you some more concrete advice on how to get constructive with your anger.
I’ll also post a few examples of ‘dump’. I have quite a few in my notes though I will need to edit them as they are written in language that is about triple R-Rated prison lingo!!