Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Overcoming the Fear of Anger

by Robert Puff

Anger work can serve as a path on your journey to wholeness, and forgiveness of yourself and others is part of what you may find along the way.

Maybe you don't feel guilty at the idea of getting angry. It's just that the whole thing simply frightens you. As far as you're concerned, anger is scary stuff. Maybe you decided never to get angry because you lived with someone who constantly ranted and raged, inflicting their anger on all who were near. As a result you have become just as extreme in refraining from anger as the enraged person was in expressing it. I often hear people talking as though if you really got into expressing your anger, it would send you "over the deep end" and you'd lose control, but I have never seen this happen as long as you don't take you anger out, either directly or indirectly, on another person or animal.

Years ago I worked with an older gentleman who had been in the Korean War and had repressed his anger about his war experiences for many years. He was convinced that if he ever let his anger out, something terrible would happen. I assured him that expressing his anger would be very beneficial for him and arranged for him to get a soft bat and a bed mattress so that he could do Anger Work. We went to a pre-arranged room where he was free to let out his anger while I held up the mattress. I must admit that I was a little nervous because he had talked in such detail about how his anger could destroy the whole hospital, let alone the mattress that I would be holding! I was glad to learn that his anger did not live up to his expectations. He did hit the bed hard, but he could only hit repeatedly for less than a minute. Instead of his anger destroying everything in sight, he found that the room, and even the bat, were virtually unaffected by his display of wrath. However, he did discover that he felt much less agitated afterwards.

As I said above, it has always been my experience that as long as anger is directed at objects and not people, no one will be harmed. Of course, don't go out and destroy a person's car or house, or item of sentimental value. This will hurt them indirectly. You do not want to hurt anyone with your anger, directly or indirectly.

Holding on to one's anger instead of letting it out as the gentleman who served in the war had is what begins the progression toward more and more serious problems. Perhaps you may have identified some specific experiences in your life as traumatic (such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse, a bad marriage, loss of a loved one, or loss of physical capability due to injury, etc.), yet still you have never fully processed those experiences or been angry about the pain you went through. Likewise with your emotional health, if you repress your anger year after year, you may not feel the pain for awhile, but the problems will come. These problems could include fractured or dysfunctional relationships, depression, obsessive-compulsive behavior, anxiety, psycho-somatic or stress-induced illnesses, phobias, addictions, or a general dissatisfaction with life. If you do not make the time to work out your issues, you will become increasingly dysfunctional. You will hurt other people by lashing out or withdrawing, and you will suffer from feelings of shame. Don't let your life go down that road. It's time to start cleaning those wounds so you can heal properly.

About the Author

Dr. Robert Puff is a licensed clinical psychologist and business consultant who has given hundreds of media interviews, including magazines, online magazines, TV and radio talk shows. This article is taken from his critically acclaimed book, Anger Work: How to Express Your Anger and Still be Kind. If you would like either a free unabridged download or free unabridged audio recording of his book, go to => http://www.doctorpuff.com/

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