Change can be fun when we’re the one creating it in our life. On the flip side of that, change is difficult when it has been forced on us. The impact of forced change (like a break-up, loosing a job, loosing housing, health crisis) on us can at times be overlooked or misunderstood by the people in our lives. We can be told by loved ones to keep moving forward, that everything will be okay or even to pray about it. Our loved ones often have our best interest in mind but can unintentionally invalidate what we’re feeling with the old pull yourself up by the bootstrap’s statements. One feeling that often gets invalidated is anger. Anger is often overlooked by us and/or our loved ones when we have been forced to deal with change that we did not create or initiate.
Overlooking anger happens for different reasons. One reason being that anger is an emotion that is sometimes feared. There are people who believe that anger is a sign of weakness or that someone will lose control if they allow themselves to experience the anger they feel. Anger in and of itself is not bad or something to be feared. Like with all unpleasant emotions, it’s what we do with it that matters most. Something to remember is that anger needs an outlet. We can run into trouble when we try to stuff it down or ignore it because it will display itself in ways we may not like or later regret. For example, trying to avoid feeling anger may cause us to act aggressively or mean towards our loved ones, or start consuming unhealthy foods or substances.
If you’re feeling angry because you’ve experienced change that you did not intentionally create, there are some things you can do with the anger you feel. One thing you can do is to give yourself permission to admit that you feel angry and not deny it. Ignoring or denying your anger will only cause it to grow and show up in ways you may later regret. Another thing you can do is write about whatever has caused you to feel angry. I know some of you may be thinking I don’t like journaling. Stick with me. Writing all the angry crap you want to say but don’t feel comfortable saying to another person can feel really good, especially if you rip up the piece of paper after you’ve gotten out everything you’ve been wanting or needing to express. If you haven’t tried that before, give it a try and see how it goes. Another thing you can do is move your body in whatever way feels best for you. Some people enjoy dancing while others enjoy kickboxing. Moving your body helps to release the pent-up energy you are holding from feeling angry and can help you to feel more relaxed. One more thing you can do to deal with the anger you’re feeling is to talk to someone you trust will listen to you without trying to fix it or you. We all experience crappy moments in life that make us feel angry and talking to someone who isn’t going to judge you or cause you to feel even more angry from advice giving can be extremely helpful.
If you’re feeling angry, remember that even though you did not have control over whatever caused you to feel angry, you have control over how you respond to the anger you feel.
Photo By Alex Alexander/Unsplash
Well, I fell down again today. It’s the third time in less than two years that I’ve hit the concrete. The first time I fell I broke one of my ankles. The second time I fell I sprang my other ankle. Today when I fell, I twisted the ankle that I previously sprang. I may sound clumsy, but the funny thing is that after both the first and second fall, I’ve been extra vigilant to avoid falling again. I do my best to look for every crack in the concrete, every twig or rock that may cause me to lose my balance, and extra care stepping off curbs. Even after feeling super alert and careful, I still managed to fall down. My traumatic memories of breaking my ankle and fear flooded my mind as I was falling. I don’t think it’s any wonder that I’d spent time today reflecting on my fall and questioning why I’d been in such disbelief that I had fallen again. After all of the reflecting, I eventually remembered that each significant life experience helps us to learn more about ourselves and to remind us of how resilient we are. After I hit the ground and the initial split-second shock of falling faded, my mind immediately told me to get back up and I did. I’m telling you this story in hopes of triggering memories of the times that you too have fallen down, physically, emotionally or both. We’ve all experienced painful situations in our lives where we questioned whether or not we were going to get back up, try again and keep going. Some of you may be feeling down as you're reading this. If you are, please remember that sometimes we fall down and it hurts like hell but we always have options and the power to choose how we respond after the fall. And hey, it’s okay to fall down. We all do at some point in our life. It’s not the fall that reflects us. It’s what we do after we’ve fallen that reveals who we are.
Photo by Vinicius Amano
Christina is a Psychotherapist in private practice in Oakland California.