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Anger Issues: What makes me Angry?

Anger is a normal healthy emotion, albeit a negative one. We all have anger issues at one time or another. When you experience anger, it is your body trying to tell you something is wrong, that “something is rotten in Denmark.” But what?

Not understanding your body’s message can lead to accusing your spouse of making you angry, or alternatively, stuffing the anger to avoid a fight. Either approach ultimately leads to reduced communication, distancing and alienation from your partner.

When I hear one of our familiar, but unelected mouths holding forth publicly about how “we all know” the sky is falling, I develop anger issues. That anger tells me that her fanatical beliefs could be dangerous; I’m careful of her. That anger tells me that he will use whatever confidence tricks he has in his arsenal to manipulate the gullible; I pay attention.

Of course I don’t stuff this anger; it’s alerting me to public danger. The anger is mine. They don’t “make me angry”; they just catch my attention. And of course I don’t turn the anger into aggression.

When you feel anger in the presence of your spouse, you always have a choice. You can either simply notice your anger, wondering what it is about, or you can turn it into aggression by accusing your spouse of making you angry.

However, your spouse may sense your anger and ask you why you’re angry. The feel-good non-answer might be “You p***me off!” The safest non-answer might be the lie, “I’m not angry!” The latter used to be my favorite, because I was a master stuffer.

The correct answer, the truthful answer would be “I don’t know,” because you are never angry for the reason you think. There is always something deeper.

The emotion underlying anger is fear. If you want to understand why you feel anger, ask yourself the question “What am I afraid of?” Then don’t answer it, but just let it percolate. You have planted the correct question in your ever-working subconscious. Wait for it to do its work.

Get in the habit of asking “What am I afraid of?” whenever you feel any negative emotion. Your life will become more under your control, and you will have more personal and marital peace.

So what deeper meaning could there be to my anger when I hear an unelected confidence man claiming to be the spokesman for the people and going on about the evils of some policy or other? It could be triggering memories of times I was tricked or swindled by someone with a hidden agenda. However, the important thing for me is that my anger in this context signals danger. My anger is my friend.

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Dr. Neill Neill retired his psychology practice at the end of 2013. He maintains an active coaching practice via telephone or Skype with select clients dealing with alcoholic husbands or ex-husbands. Check out his book, Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman's Survival Guide. http://drneillneill.com

1 comment to Anger Issues: What makes me Angry?

  • LJ

    Once you have an angry/annoyed husband, what do you do on a daily basis? Just asking what he “fears” will just make him laugh. And what if there’s an alcohol issue?

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