Anger and Our Dark Side ~ A force to be Reckoned With
In my first book, Lessons for an Urban Goddess, I describe the importance of being in touch with both the light and dark sides of our nature.
In order to live your life authentically and mindfully, it is imperative to regulate the energy we expend on each part of our nature. Though joy, excitement, and peace may feel wonderful, our nature has a built in alarm that warns us when danger is approaching. This FEAR is often expressed as anger, resentment, irritability and feelings that most of us don't welcome with open arms. It may feel good in the moment to feel "alpha" and beat our chests like our fellow primates, but left untamed can do us more harm than good.
From the beginning of time, human beings had a natural instinct to be protective. Known as the flight or fight response. Males, due to more testosterone in their make-ups, may tend to have more "fight" in them, but that doesn't mean that females are immune.
Whether you are stressed from a commute that is causing you to run late for a meeting or a partner who appears to be tapping into a vulnerability, our darker sides will appear center stage in these moments.
One of the main reasons our anger escalates is due to fear. We tend to let our imaginations run wild, believing that if we make more noise (yelling, screaming, perhaps throwing an object) we will project that fear onto the object or person who is triggering it. Some of us aren't overt in our anger, instead. we retreat into cold silences and passive/aggressive behaviors meant to punish those who we perceive are deliberately making us feelvulnerable and wrong.
As a society, we have spent a great deal of time researching and studying the causes of anger and dark behavioral traits. Some of us have milder reactions than others and more than a few fall into the Dark Triad. A term used for the darkest souls who portray narcissism, psychopathy, and machiavellian behaviors.
The reasons why anger surfaces and the depth in which is it displayed vary greatly but it is important to note that it is normal to a degree.
When you feel "anger" and "fear" it is best to take a brief moment to acknowledge it. Chances are high, no matter how hard you try, that it will surface. Instead of letting anger control you, know that you have complete control over the intensity and timing. In order to stay healthy emotionally and physically, it is in your best interest to "tame it."
Here are some pearls of wisdom :
~Breathe. If you feel yourself becoming upset, angry, stressed, program your brain and be proactive. Immediately take several deep breaths. This will slow down the rage that you may be feeling and gives you a moment to take pause.
~Count to five. Seriously, count from 1 to 5 to yourself slowly. Again, it is training your brain to take a quick breather from an impulsive reaction that you may later regret.
~Remember, anger begets anger. No matter how angry or obnoxious someone else becomes, by colluding and joining the anger party at the same level will do little good. You have every right to feel what you feel, but be the calmer, collected one. Say something like "I will discuss this with you when you can speak to me in a more respectful manner." You are making it clear that you will not tolerate disrespect. If the person turns cold and won't speak with you (i.e. the silent treatment), say: I understand you are upset, so am I so when you are ready to discuss this in a fair manner, I am willing to listen." If they choose to go "cold" that is their issue, not yours. Remember, FEAR is at the root of ANGER.
~Leave the situation temporarily. You may need to walk out of the room or house to get some breathing time to cool off yourself. If the partner or person engaging in the heated discussion may need to do the same. You can come back to the discussion but the first rule needs to be no verbal abuse or loud voices.
~Take the high road for your sanity and health. With these tips, many people who have moderate anger will eventually become more reasonable. Keep in mind that this is NOT true for all people. If someone continues to be disrespectful towards you and devalues you on a consistent basis, they have shown you who they are. It is not your responsibility to "fix" them. Give them the name of a good therapist and go live your life. Easier said than done, I know, but sometimes you need to throw in the towel and allow yourself self-compassion. Sometimes it is impossible to implement no contact. If so, then force yourself to go low-contact until you see reasonable effort and change.
Do not be afraid of your anger (or the anger of others) or let it control you.Take a few moments to reflect the possible causes and learn more constructive ways to communicate and release fear.
Conflict within reason can be productive and necessary. Learn to tame your dark side by embracing it. Expect at times that you will be the recipient of others "dark sides".When you cultivate emotional ammunition and good communication skills , you will find over time the need for it to emerge will become less frequent, giving you the gift of living a more peaceful life.
Laney Zukerman is a Relationship and Empowerment Coach and Contributing Writer to Selfgrowth.com, The Huff Post and dozens of media outlets. She has been interviewed and quoted in Redbook, Brides, Dawn's Corner, NBC Arizona Midday, Divorced Moms.com, OnTrend, and Next On Scene Magazine. Her books, Lessons for an Urban Goddess and the Urban Goddess Lesson are available on Amazon.com.
Follow her relationship podcast series on SOUNDCLOUD.COM https://soundcloud.com/user-191879537