For Girls Who Are Dancing With Anger
Today, I'm going to talk about something I've been trying to unpack for yeaaaaaarrrssss. Again, this blog posting may be longer than usual (and I'm naturally long-winded, so I want to thank those brave people in advance who will read this blog posting in its entirety. Also, I'm writing purely from a stream of consciousness. Meaning, there may be typos and moments that may skip around lol, but the message will still be clear.
ANGER: OPENING PARAGRAPH FROM DANCE OF ANGER BY HARRIET LERNER
‘Anger is a signal and one worth listening to. Our anger may be a message that we are being hurt, that our rights are being violated, that our needs or wants are not being adequately met, or simply that something is not right. Our anger may tell us that we are not addressing an important emotional issue in our lives, or that too much of the self – our beliefs, values, desires or ambitions – is being compromised in a relationship. Our anger may be a signal that we are doing more and giving more than we can comfortably do or give. Or our anger may warn us that others are doing too much for us, at the expense of our own competence and growth.’ — Dance of Anger, p.1
Harriet Lerner is a clinical psychologist, one of the US’s foremost relationship experts and an author who has ‘dedicated her writing life to translating complex theory into accessible and useful prose’. Her 1985 classic The Dance of Anger is one of those books that I wish I had read years and years ago.
Let's backtrack here:
I’m often guilty of letting my emotions “get the best of me.”
Now, this isn’t to say that I can’t be completely logical when the situation calls for it because I can certainly hold my own. However, this just means that whenever something or someone is stressing me out, I tend to repress those emotions instead of expressing them.
And the few times I do express my emotions (if I’m pushed to that breaking point) I come off looking crazier than Pennywise from the movie "It".
I mean, I instantly become defensive, my anger is heightened, and I stumble over my words, I’m just all over the place. It’s just something I can’t help. I can’t help but get flustered. It’s also something I’ve never been able to control. It’s also something I’ve been put down for not being able to fully express and because people couldn't understand me since I can remember.
So what do I do? I try even harder to mask my emotions. Tucking them deep inside my mind, locking my emotions away in a made-up lock box, that’s guarded by a made-up dragon that breathes scorching hot fire whenever someone attempts to attack me.
If someone is pressing my nerves or speaking hostile towards me, I usually avoid the conflict, fearing that if I show any amount of emotion, I would look weak. And often times I look even weaker biting my tongue, and suppressing what’s actually on my mind.
But why are emotions such as being angry looked down upon? Why do people think you’re some sort of sociopath because you are angry? Why is being angry such a bad emotion?
Why? Why? Why?
This question I’ve been pondering over and over and over the past couple of weeks
Let me backtrack here. AGAIN... For two years, I was on my "being-mary-jane ish" working as a journalist for a black-owned media company! I thought I was doing something honey, and in all honesty, I was. I was spinning stories that were making an impact on the Black community, not only in Houston but the southern region of the U.S.
I was writing about mental health disparities for blacks, sex trafficking, mortality rates in blacks, and how unfair the justice system was for blacks....basically, anything major dealing with BLACK people, I wrote about it! Some of those stories, I won awards for.
As my writing skills continued to blossom at the company, the more my boss wanted me to take on new responsibilities...specifically social media reach. I know you're probably asking "girl, wtf does this have to do with anger?"
Give me a second, because all of this will soon make sense.
She presented me with an opportunity to journey with her to St. Louis to a business retreat to learn more about social media marketing and how to make money through it. I immediately accepted the opportunity, although I was quite nervous about the whole situation. Working as a journalist, I mostly worked from home. Everything was virtual. so the idea of meeting up with my boss, and it was just me and her for three days, was a little nervewracking. Yes, we've met in person on several occasions for meetings, however, there were always other people involved. But when it was just me and her, I felt under pressure to overextend myself and "perform".
During our three-day business retreat, my Boss had asked me a multitude of questions, all of them were about getting to know me better as an individual out of the workspace. However, she was a little too nosey and began to ask me things about my childhood and my upbringing. Things that I'm still healing and angry about in my life. So, naturally, those questions triggered my emotions. Instead of me kindly telling her, that she was being too invasive, I ended up spilling wayyyy to much information that came off, to her, as me being snappy. I, however, was unaware of this, until she mentioned it lol, because I thought I was explaining it in a way that wouldn't give me a way. But it did.
Needless to say, she saw a side of me that I didn't want her to see, whatsoever. But she handled it well (she's older in her 60s). Well, anyway, my boss mentioned that I was full of anger. She ended up telling me that she knew what I was going through and that she knew i still had pent up anger in me, and that it was okay to feel it, but eventually, I'd have to learn to address it then let it go (in a nutshell).
Crazy thing about this was, it wasn't until I realized that i had gotten angry because she thought I was angry, that I got a epiphany about my life. I had an "AHA" moment after sitting back and contemplating over her words. I had finally realised that, dammit, I AM ANGRY
I was shocked by her words because it never dawned on me until that point that i was still harboring those ill-feelings. That i was still angry. That even though I had claimed I had forgiven those people for their wrong-doings, i still was not over it, and at the end of the day, I was still angry, angry, and some more angry at the world.
Angry because I feel like I've been used, abused, and allowed it to continue on for so long. Angry because I never had the courage to speak up for myself, to defend myself. Angry because I kept my mouth shut just to keep the peace. Angry because I always had to be the bigger person in situations. Angry because I gave myself to people who were unworthy of my time. Angry because the people I thought I could trust, end up being wolves in sheep’s clothing. Angry because I've wasted my time in an organization that didn't benefit me at all. Angry because the people I love lie to me. Angry because I had people smiling in my face, pretending they care and don't. Angry because people think it's okay to pretend to be my friend, all the while holding a grudge against me--or secretly hating on me. Angry because people I love have stolen from me (literally and figuratively). Angry because I am often misunderstood and judged by people who don't know me (and think they do)...Angry because people talk about me behind my back yet claim they like me. Angry because I don't know how to forget the way people have made me feel...angry because I don't know how to forgive and let go...angry because I sometimes don’t even know where to begin with healing and forgiving…
All of this anger I've been trying to hide until today. Before I didn't want people to think I was crazy, or your stereotypical "angry black woman" who walks around with a chip on her shoulder.
My boss ended up buying me an audio book called: Dancing with Anger (as aforementioned in the beginning). When I tell you that book has done my life wonders and has helped learn a few things I'd like to share with you all below...because I know I'm not the only one dealing with anger issues in life. It's okay. IT IS OKAY. EMBRACE THAT FEELING...HERE'S WHY:
People and our emotions- we have a funny way of sifting our silt, and our shit, out. What could happen if the next time we anger we choose to hold our tongue for a bit? Sit on it, but don’t stew. There is a difference and this is it. Today, it's so important for me to create an internal dialogue; this is my anger, my anger is me. I am getting to know my frustrations. Where is the root? How do I want my emotions to be received? What is it I want to change? What am I trying to say?
In anger, we create a quick-reaction approach every time because we have not created a relationship with that feeling and do not understand how to effectively process it. Take a glass jar of water, and pour some mud in (I learned this in grade school). Shake it up and set it back down. You can not see through the silt and the darkness and the dirt. But if you leave the glass to sit for awhile, after time it starts to sift itself out. Over time the mud settles to the bottom, and you can see through the clear water again. Reacting in our anger is trying to see the problem and its solution through the silt after taking time to process it.
When you let your emotion rest before reacting you are taking the space to offer yourself clarity!
Please, Let your glass sit. And then take ownership. Owning where you’re at is the most valuable trait you can cultivate. If you can’t accept where you’re at, how will the person you are trying to communicate with be able to? Make peace with the frustration because it is okay and valid to experience. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a person. Proceed forward when your water is clear. Most emotional pain in life can be traced back to hasty and untruthful reactions.
Remember how precious your truth is, and don’t be afraid to choose from your highest perspective.
As many chances as that takes. Be kind enough with yourself, girl! And NOTE THAT: Anger can be a force for positive change. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Rosa Parks (and almost all other activists and people who sparked real change) harnessed it. Ultimately, it’s good to realize that anger can be positive. You don’t have a disease. Anger is not a parasite. You’re not harboring a monster or demon within. It’s all about how you use it.
We as women (and men, I'm not gone leave ya'll out because I know ya'll be reading my stuff, I got love for ya'll too!) over the years have learned to silence our anger, to hide and deny it entirely to the point that it leaves us feeling helpless and powerless. But I'm here to tell you it is okay, your anger is a signal and one worth listening to... and understanding...
If you have been feeling angry lately or you haven't found a way to forgive those who've harmed you, I strongly advise you to pick up this book. (click here to grab a copy) It'll help you overcome your struggles. You don't need to continue to live your life in chaos...get help now love and FOLLOW ME on my journey to finding myself and my happy while letting go of negativity by Subscribing to my blog, because I'm an open book, and I'm just turning up the heat on the many REAL LIFE topics. Just remember, REAL PROBLEMS HAVE REAL SOLUTIONS! AND WITH ME, SAGE, WE'RE GOING TO ALWAYS FIND HEALING because I choose to be happy. I choose it for you too!
i life you and As always, thanks for reading!