Anger shows up in our lives in many different ways, and when it shows up, we can decide to express it in healthy ways or not.
Anger can be scary for many people experiencing it or those near it when expressed.
Anger is a secondary emotion and typically shows on the surface, while deeper feelings are hidden deep inside. Anger acts like the big protector keeping others away from the true feelings. It can be expressed in many different ways for many reasons.
Here are three underlying feelings that, for me, might be hidden under anger.
1. Fear: For many people, fear masks anger; it keeps people from getting close when they are most vulnerable. It could be the fear of failure, loss, or the fear of being hurt.
2. Sadness: When people feel sadness, it can be raw and uncomfortable for them. To avoid that experience, people might express anger instead.
3. Pain: People experience hurt in both psychological and physical ways. In either case, it might be that anger is a reaction to intense pain.
While anger is a secondary emotion, it certainly has its own set of components, making it no less intense when experienced.
I have an affinity for acronyms, and this one came to me in my morning meditation recently. For me, acronyms are concepts that can stick with people beyond the initial reading. It gave me the impulse to write this article.
Awareness: Am I willing to look deeper into my feelings when I am expressing anger. Do I rely on anger as a trigger to correct my behaviors, or do I allow it to run amuck with my life and the lives of those around me? I strive to increase my self-awareness in times of anger to avoid creating a mess that I have to clean up later.
Negativity: Do I recognize when my thoughts focus on the worst-case scenarios? Am I trapped in the spiral of negativity that has me believing that the next thing in my life will be devastation and destruction? How can I see beyond the dark cloud of feelings and find the ray of hope in the sunshine? I believe that being 51% positive puts me in the majority, and it transforms my thinking.
Grief: How do I allow myself to feel the deep sorrow of loss if someone or something dear to me? Am I adept at going through the grief process or just an amateur at navigating the torrential storm? What can I do to let grief has its life cycle versus bottling it up and having it come out in rage outbursts? I vow to sit with grief and let it have its way with me until it is ready to move on to the next person.
Expectations: Do I set myself up for frustration when I have high hopes for how things might turn out? Am I doing a disservice to myself by being overly optimistic about life? Do I get what I deserve when my expectations are not met? I believe we get more out of life by expecting more from it.
Resentment: How deeply do I contemplate my feelings from past experiences? Are my feelings in an endless circular cycle that seems to have no end? Do I feel the intensity of the feelings reach and every time at a deeper level? I look forward to a time when my feelings are not recycled over and over again.
All of this attention to anger is covering up the actual topic of depression. I have used anger as the secondary topic to cover up my awkwardness with expressing my experience with my mental health symptoms.
I don’t have stigma or shame about it; I just don’t have extensive practice with being good at sharing it yet.
My journey to accepting anger as a part of my experience with depression has been challenging at best. I have heaps of joy and happiness in my life to celebrate daily with much gratitude, so the anger seems to be in juxtaposition to peace.
I am not a mental health expert, nor am I trained and educated to have an official opinion about depression; however, I am living with some of the symptoms, making me an expert on my own experiences.
If you are experiencing ideations of suicide, please seek the professional help available to you locally or online.
One of the best anecdotes for me when it comes to living with the symptoms of depression is in saying yes to those who are willing to support you. Saying yes to others who want to help me has not been easy in the past, so it continues to be a real challenge.
What I know today is that asking for and accepting the help others offer in many cases is the thing that I need most to feel freedom from the suffocating effects of the symptoms of depression.
I hope that reading this article impacts you or someone you love positively. We can be supportive of each other virtually or in real life.
I believe that there are lessons for us to learn in looking at the lives of those severely impacted by depression, such as Robin Williams, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain.
It is up to us to heed any warning signs associated with severe depression and spring into supportive action.
With much gratitude.
This post is republished on Medium.
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