Top Seven Reasons People Resist Anger--Part II
In my capacity as an outpatient psychologist for twenty-
five years, I run into eight major conditions every day.
These are all touched by the experience of anger, which if
not dealt with effectively, will exacerbate the eight contions
(relationships, anxiety, self-esteem, mood, assertiveness, etc.)
Here's the top seven reasons I have encountered every day to
NOT deal with anger. This is the second in a two-part series
of articles dealing with anger management. Please read the
first article, then continue...
4) If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at
This is the voice of your parents, culture or religious
training. Learn to just be comfortable with who you are, including
with what your feel. Then, learn some ways to process those
5) It's no big deal. This is minimization, avoidance,
intellectualization, rationalization and/or suppression.
It's what we do when we don't want do deal with something, so
suddenly it's not important. Sometimes this is the lazy man's way
of saying it's just too hard. It's actually harder to deal with
things later after we have "stockpiled" them.
A corollary to this is, "I already get what I want now,
especially when I am angry." This is also more rationalization but
sometimes used by bullies or immature types who don't care about
others, just as long as they get their way. Impulsive types
sometimes fall into this category. Their very (angry) presence
nets them something, but the side effects are usually uncomfortable
to their psychological neighbors. Anger can be manipulative,
precisely to the point that it is used to control others through
intimidation. It's important to get enough control over ourselves
to try different, assertive vs. aggressive ways of relating to others.
6) People should know what I think or what I want.
More often than not, they don't. People are not psychic.
We have to spell things out for most people, usually verbally,
preferably directly. Expecting others to know what we think or
want is a recipe for disaster. Don't use this as an excuse for
not dealing with your feelings.
7) Deeper psychological stuff. Some people have a history of
failing at anger management, not because their feelings are faulty,
but because they are, or so they think. We might have a crummy
self-esteem; so dealing with powerful feelings such as anger
definitely won't fit in with our unconscious anticipation of failure
or avoidance of success. The paradox is that using anger
constructively increases not decreases self-esteem. It helps to
develop realistic self-confidence and skills to keep it.
Some people are afraid of their feelings, especially anger.
They shut up because speaking about this feeling "upsets the apple
cart." I make the analogy that anger is like fire. Fire, by
itself, is value neutral. It is neither good nor bad. Sure, it can
burn down your house, OR, is can be harnessed to heat it up--same fire,
same heat; different use, different outcome.
Then, there are other personality types that use anger
maladaptively. Narcissism comes to mind.
This is when the universe revolves around us, so when people
don't "snap to" when we command them, they get upset with us and
because of our personality, we get upset with them. The other
narcissistic phenomenon that is very common is what we call
entitlement. This is when we expect others to already know our
thoughts, feelings and wishes. They should be just waiting to take
care of us. Right! The thinking is, we are entitled to have things
our way, just because we are who we are. Adjust expectations downwards.
Assume people don't have our thoughts at heart. They usually don't.
This is hard for narcissistic folks. In this case, the problem is
narcissism, which has not much to do with anger management, except
that narcissists usually have bouts of rage when their huge
self-oriented needs are not met.
Lastly, some people learn to avoid conflict, anger and
even simple assertiveness all together, while at the same time
"getting even." Example: Imagine you are angry with your wife,
but dealing with your wife is a very big chore. She's "difficult"
or downright aggressive. So, you "disappear" for a time, thus
avoiding conflict. If you just happen to disappear when the two of
you are scheduled to go somewhere, you have also made her angry.
In this case, you did it indirectly in the service of avoiding
conflict. Pretty slick. You accomplished two things at once,
were responsible for neither and no one was the wiser.