Much of what I’m sharing comes from what I’ve learned from years of listening to clients, so here’s a chance to consider what people who have worked hard on understanding what they think and feel say about anger…The idea is not to compare, rather to reflect, do your own self analysis.

    – I’m immediately defensive, quick to anger, and don’t hesitate to lash out in return.
    – I freeze in place, can’t think or speak clearly and find ways to distance or  retreat rapidly.
    – I become calm, clear headed and try to both diffuse the situation and listen carefully.
    -It surges quickly and I frequently lash out without examining what’s going on with me
    -I’m shocked by my angry feelings and have trouble saying what I need to say or do, let alone understand what’s up with me, and typically since I don’t know what to say or do, I say little to nothing
    -I’m slow to anger, and able to focus on negotiating and resolving conflict. I try to pay attention to my own feelings so I can take care of myself in the interaction
    There are perhaps multiple variations on these responses, so consider your own. Mainly, begin a process of thinking about  what you do and say — how you conduct yourself. And how you feel as you reflect.  Our individual assessments are important right now because if clients and friends and colleagues are reporting accurately, there is a heightened sense of polarizing anger in our communities and our relationships.
    The feeling of anger can be described as a “signal” from our system that something needs clarification….there is either an internal or external signal that something is “off.” If you accept this basic idea, there’s nothing inherently wrong with an angry feeling.  The difficulty arises in how each of us manages what we feel — and what we choose to say and do.
    A straightforward and calm statement that “I feel angry about this ______” can lead to both your own internal understanding of what you feel as well as a start on conflict resolution with the person you are talking to.  Sounds ridiculous to some, I know. But it’s still a reasonable option once you get more connected to understanding your feelings.
    And to explore further, anger is most typically a signal, accurate or inaccurate, from the brain/body that there is danger. When it’s actual physical danger, the response to fight or flee (sometimes freeze) is a biologically inherited response. Pay ATTENTION to such signals, and hopefully learn to respond appropriately. Thus, the actual FEELING is fear, not simply anger.
    While anger can mask fear and create bravado, it can also mask sadness and grief. If access to sadness and grief is hard, anger will sometimes surge as a protective feeling.  It’s OFF in terms of what’s really going on, but that is often hard for many to recognize, let alone label accurately.
    Consider that we can’t afford to be lashing out at one another right now. The majority of us are tender hearted, caring, hopeful of being connected people …. and inappropriate anger simply gets in the way of the expression of those feelings. Conflict and legitimate feelings can be expressed in ways that encourage understanding across differences, more connection; and when we actually listen, we learn something — about both the other and ourselves.
    Consider what your “peaceful” contribution to understanding differences might be in a time where conflict and anger seem to at least, threaten the possibility of resolution.
    And if you discover you’re having trouble managing or understanding your feelings, please talk to someone you trust. And as always, you can contact me.  Hang in there and take good care of yourself.