The Upside of Anger

I felt exhausted, my throat felt raw, my voice sounded old and raspy as if I’d been smoking 60 cigarettes a day!  I picked myself off the floor and slowly walked away, my shoulders drooping, my body filled with shame.  I couldn’t believe it had happened again!  Another, what felt like an ‘out of body experience’ where I raged at my husband, shouting and screaming at him until my throat constricted and I could no longer speak, so instead, I had crumbled to the floor, sobbing.

If anyone who knew me had walked into that scene, they would have thought that I had completely lost my mind, I would have been unrecognisable to them.  Although I had short bouts of anger from time to time where I raised my voice, as most people do, I had never had bouts of rage before.  This rage was new, and this was the second time it had happened.  It was frightening; it left me feeling awful, embarrassed, ashamed, and vulnerable.  

As a Counsellor and Coach, I had always been a good listener, and as someone who specialised in Emotional Intelligence, I had always understood emotions and the behaviour that goes with them, but this was something new.  In that moment of rage, I was not interested in listening to my husband, nor did I understand the extreme emotion or the awful behaviour that went along with it.  Even though I had helped other people to deal with their rage, I had never experienced it myself before.

I hated feeling like I was not in charge of my own behaviour; I couldn’t even stand feeling slightly drunk after a few glasses of wine!  I simply had to know why this was happening so I could return to being the respectable happy-go-lucky person my husband met and fell in love with.  

I decided to deal with this issue like I would with my clients.  I knew that anger was a secondary emotion, that there was always a reason underneath the anger, that the reason was usually an unmet need that stemmed from a personal value.   I valued being a good listener, and I also knew that the biggest cause of teen suicides was due to not being listened to, so I had to ask myself, did I feel listened to?  The answer was a resounding no!

Not feeling listened to made me feel insignificant and that what I wanted ‘did not matter.’ Both of which came from traumatic childhood experiences.  I realised that my husband not listening to me was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back.’ I knew it was not his fault and felt grateful that his behaviour had brought my old wounds to the surface so that I could heal.  I expressed this to my husband, asking for his forgiveness and then forgiving myself. 

I leave you with this.  There is no such thing as a bad or negative emotion.  Uncomfortable emotions exist to help us heal, grow and become better versions of ourselves.   

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