Anger: The Fire Within

Originally Posted on September 28, 2014 by BJ Howell.

Recently I experienced an emotion that was new to me. Intense anger. Everyone feels anger at some point. It is a natural emotion and, as I tell my students and clients, it is okay to be angry. Denying yourself the right to experience feelings would stunt your emotional growth. It would box you into something that is expressed inwardly and that can be as destructive, if not more destructive than untamed, outwardly expressed anger. So, feeling anger, experiencing those emotions, is normal and ok. What isn’t okay is turning that anger into behavior that is unacceptable, behavior that hurts yourself, or someone else.

So, when I experienced this intense emotion, it was foreign to me. However, after someone nicely pointed it out, I realized that it was affecting my behavior. What others saw was hatred, but that was the furthest thing from my heart… I don’t hate anyone. However, when the sight of a person, or sound of someone’s voice makes me tense up and shut down to anything that person has to offer, I can see where that would look like hatred. After I took a step back and thought about it, I realized how similar anger and hatred can be. That scared me. The self destructive nature of untamed anger and hatred are apparent… But more important to me was the fact that hate has never lived in my heart. Ever. So seeing the similarities made me question myself. Why was I allowing myself to get so angry? What was it about this person or myself that triggered such a strong reaction?

The reasons for anger are many, but they can be summed up into a few categories and most of those can be traced back to some sort of fear. So, what was I afraid of? I looked at the obvious. Change. I am not a fan of change. Never have been, but I realize that change is necessary, and learning how to accept change can be very empowering. So, I was pretty sure that wasn’t where the fear was coming from. Then I had to look at what was it about this person that I had issues with. Typically, I see people for who they are and even if they have committed the most heinous acts, I see the whole person and the pieces…especially the broken broken pieces. It doesn’t excuse anything that they have done; however, it allows me to see them as human. We all have been broken, on some level. We all have experienced some sort of struggle and many of us have experienced trauma. Time and hard work can reverse most of the negative residue from our brokenness, but if we didn’t work on the broken pieces, who would we be? That’s when I realized where the fear was coming from. It was the very thing that I think this person struggles with. Control. I can’t control the fact that regardless of what I do or say, this person will respond in a negative way and that caused me to feel insecure. And even though I think it is purposeful, I am pretty sure they don’t consciously realize their need to act in such a way. Nevertheless, it took away my power. Or, should I say, I gave up my power because I allowed myself to be effected by their brokenness…

Their brokenness has nothing to do with me. I’ve done my time and I’ve worked on the my stuff. Who I am as a person and what I stand for are solid. It is not something that is dependent on how others view me or if others accept me. It is who I am. The (anger) fear was from giving up the power of my “I Am” and then being unsure of where I stood. I needed a reminder of who I am and how far I have come. The essence of who I am is something that can not be changed, unless I allow it. And I simply will not. So, now I realize that I need to be more conscious when interacting with this person. Their need to tear others down does not mean that I have to be subject to that. I control who I am, what I stand for and my feelings. While they are fighting against the very things that will make them whole, and fulfilled, I have to remember, it is their fight. The pieces of their mosaic “I Am” lay crumpled before them. I pray that they find peace and healing. In the meantime, I revel in the mosaic masterpiece that I have become…and am still becoming. My “I Am”, as colorful as it is, is mine alone, and no one can take that away.

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