There was a time when I thought that anger was bad. Not anymore. I realize what can be bad is how you express it and even worse when you don’t really understand what’s behind your anger.
What’s Behind Your Anger?
A friend of mine shared with me how he (R) was feeling a great deal of anger towards a friend who he had known for over twenty years. He told me that his friend (M) was someone he greatly admired in the past, but lately he no longer felt comfortable with M. In fact, R said, that almost every time he thought of M he was filled with anger and he couldn’t understand why. As he began to talk, I encouraged him to write a letter to M and told him that he needn’t actually send it. So he wrote this letter and gave me permission to share it with you.
A letter expressing anger
I found myself struggling to write this letter to you, wondering how you will receive it. But then I decided that I would write it anyway, even if I never send it to you. After all, what I am expressing has everything to do with me and not you. Also, I’m convinced, as in the past you will not really understand me. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if we ever really understood each other. I know I tried my hardest to but did you ever care enough to understand me? But that’s entirely a different subject.
Over the last two months I have been experiencing a great deal of irritation and even anger when I think about you. I think it all started when you told me about the good time you were having at your work place…quite literally it seemed that you were being paid to have a good time. One part of me was happy for you, but at another level, I wondered how you could justify using office time for your personal work. I understand a few instances here and there. But as I think back as I began to see a pattern….It was something you always did, just that it come out so clearly as it did now.
However, why should I be angry about it I wondered. I was not your employer, nor did I give you a recommendation to work at this place….I’m not even remotely connected to what you do. Frankly, what happens at your work place is between your employer and you and it is none of my business…
I kept on wondering why I was angry, until I shared my feelings with someone. She made me realize that I was not angry with you at all, but rather I was angry with myself. Why? Because over the years, I’ve always thought of you as some one who had very deep rooted values and a strong moral compass.
I’ve always admired you for what you have made of your life. But more and more, I’m disillusioned by your choices, by your behaviour and I begin to question whether any part of the past was authentic at all. But that’s not your problem, it’s mine. I’ll have to deal with the fact that you have, to a large extent, fallen off the pedestal I put you on.
Will I be able to deal with the ‘new’, not-so-admirable you? How do I relate to the new person I’ve seen beneath the layers? It is my own inability to find a suitable response that makes me feel vulnerable and to a large extent uncomfortable with these new feelings I have towards you.
There, I’ve said it. And now having sorted through my feelings I feel much lighter. Perhaps, I’ll even find a way to connect with you again, if I want to.
Isn’t it true that our anger can often be a mask we wear to cover other emotions – hurt, rejection, disenchantment? How important it is for us to analyze why we feel a certain way towards someone, something, some institution, etc!
Does your disenchantment with people or institutions lead you to anger or action?
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