T Stop be­ing nice

Anger has a bad rep­u­ta­tion, much of it de­served. Yet with­out it, our ‘No’ does not carry any power. Your per­sonal power and the anger you sup­press are linked.

Living Now - - Personal Development - By Steve Sweeney

he as­trologer smiled at me and said, “You know, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, Li­brans are the an­gri­est peo­ple in the Zo­diac.” I looked at her and asked, “Are we?” “To be so nice, they have to sup­press what they feel.” She said. “While they might be nice peo­ple on the sur­face, un­der­neath they are seething with un­ex­pressed anger, re­sent­ment and rage.”

The de­scrip­tion about be­ing a nice boy sure fit­ted for me. How­ever, I was un­sure if it had more to do with be­ing born un­der an as­tro­log­i­cal sign, or be­ing raised by my mother to be her ‘nice boy’. In my prac­tice I see this of­ten — men and women who have been raised to be ‘nice’ boys and girls. They re­port a life­time of be­ing told: Don’t raise your voice; Don’t cre­ate a fuss; Never be an­gry; Don’t hurt mummy’s feel­ings; Al­ways be nice; Don’t up­set your fa­ther…

Anger is a use­ful emo­tion — with­out it, we can­not put up bound­aries. Or be con­vinc­ing when we say NO! or STOP! With­out ac­cess to our anger, we will be treated as door­mats. Our wishy­washy ‘no’ will be ig­nored as it has no power behind it. With­out fe­male anger the fem­i­nist move­ment would not have trans­formed the Western world. The rage and anger of women across the globe, from years of in­jus­tice and in­equal­ity, fu­elled the so­cial rev­o­lu­tion that has made the world such a dif­fer­ent place than it was just 100 years ago.

Anger can be ex­pressed in a con­struc­tive or de­struc­tive man­ner. The trou­ble is most of us have ex­pe­ri­enced anger as de­struc­tive and scary. Hence we avoid it, ig­nore it, or pre­tend we are above it, by be­ing oh so spir­i­tual.

I re­call my first en­counter group and the fa­cil­i­ta­tor ask­ing me what I was so an­gry about. I was shocked to be con­fronted with the news ev­ery­one in the group was aware of the rage that I was feel­ing and was em­a­nat­ing from me. My delu­sion of be­ing the ‘nice boy’ with all my ugly anger hid­den away out of sight was shat­tered.

So be­gan my jour­ney in learn­ing to ex­press the anger that I had put a lid on so long ago. The sur­pris­ing thing for me was dis­cov­er­ing that, un­der the anger I car­ried, was where so much of my de­nied mas­cu­line power lay hid­den.

By deny­ing anger I was sup­press­ing my per­sonal power.

Some­times anger needs the phys­i­cal ex­pres­sion of hit­ting things and scream­ing. Af­ter all, most of us have anger from decades ago that needs to be ex­pressed. Once the back­log is mostly gone, we learn anger does not need to be screamed or phys­i­cally ex­pressed. It does not need to be ex­pressed in ways that are harm­ful to oth­ers or our­selves. Just a few quiet words, ‘I feel an­gry when …’, and that’s all it takes to be com­plete. Yet learn­ing this takes courage and a will­ing­ness to ex­pe­ri­ence both our power and our vul­ner­a­bil­ity — as the two are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked. n

Steve Sweeney has worked for over 25 years with peo­ple; in groups, as cou­ples and in­di­vid­u­als. His pas­sion is help­ing peo­ple cre­ate Xtraor­di­nary Re­la­tion­ships.

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