Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Dark Side of Anger

Being that I believe a balance is required between dark and light in life, I am a believer also that each person possesses dark and light within their personality/character and is meant to use both as needed in their life. This is sometimes in direct conflict with how we are taught to behave.

I was raised in the South and taught Southern hospitality and manners. Southern women, characteristically speaking, are not supposed to get angry. We are supposed to remain calm, even-tempered and mild mannered regardless of situation. We are supposed to be the example of how to behave with finesse and dignity. As a result, I spent many years of my life believing that I was a failure as a Southern woman because I felt genuine anger and I expressed it inappropriately because I was not taught proper techniques for dealing with anger. For the most part, when angry, I would cry, leaving others to believe I was hurt instead of angered.

Slowly I came to the realization that not only was anger appropriate in various situations, but healthy! Anger is a beneficial emotion. I do not believe in being over-dramatic and do not encourage fits of fury; however, anger allows us to set boundaries and limits when dealing with others. This is beneficial because without boundaries, we might allow others to run over us with their requests and demands. Anger also allows us an outlet to deal with our feelings regarding injustices. It can give us the courage to speak out against wrong-doing. It can promote our need to raise our voices to complain to those in power. In short, anger is often the catalyst of much-needed change.

In this mode, anger - while dark – is not a “bad” emotion.

Rage, however, can be. While it is not necessary to deny anger, it is necessary to have a sense of control over it. Road rage, sports violence, spousal/child abuse often originate from anger that has escalated out of control. This is the darkness that we should avoid. This is the darkness that can stain our souls.

I am content that I have learned that suppressing my anger is not necessary and that expressing my anger does not make me a failure as a Southern woman. I am grateful that there are programs that exist to aid those who have a problem controlling their anger. I hope that more people will come to the realization that they must control their anger rather than allowing their anger to control them.

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