Anger & the Nice Girl

Article by Barb Greenberg, Rediscovering U

I was brought up to be  nice girl, so I  was really good at being sad but not good at all at being angry. Nice girls are not supposed to get angry.

I had taken a class on women and money given by Ruth Hayden, and one of our assignments was to journal about when we were little and how we got what we wanted. I mentioned this to one of my daughters, and she asked, “So how did you get what you wanted?  I answered, “I was nice girl and kept my mouth shut.”  She looked at me strangely and said, “Well, mom, that doesn’t work!!!”

Of course she was right, and I definitely needed to work with a therapist, especially during my divorce.  My therapist had me scribble my anger with dark colored crayons on a large piece of paper.  It sounds easy, but the first time I did it, I turned my head away as I scribbled, afraid to look at what I was expressing.

I also wrote “those letters” to my Ex that you never send.  I got really good at this, and enjoyed letting loose with all sorts of words!

One day as I began yet another letter, I realized I was simply repeating myself over and over in these letters, and it was getting boring.   Instead I wrote my anger. 

Dear Anger, What’s the deal anyway?

I realized anger is a tool I was not allowed to access.  It is a valuable emotion.  It is a light that flashes when something is not safe.  And it gave me the energy to get off the sofa and move forward.

Anger has gotten a bad reputation, I think because many of us never learned the most effective way to use it. 

We turn it against ourselves which is not wise. 

We whine, and though  it might feel good for a moment, doesn’t help any situation. In fact, I’ve heard whining described as anger coming through a very small opening!

If there is another person involved, and there was a betrayal, we rage at the other person. But the other person is not the one who made the commitment to love and cherish you.  Your spouse did.

And though we may rage and scream, as loud as we are, no one can really hear us.

In the book The Dance of Anger, author Harriet Lerner explains that our anger is meant to be respected.  It will tell us if we have been betrayed or are betraying ourselves.  It can challenge us to know ourselves more deeply.  It will signal to us  when things are not safe so we can move wisely through difficult situations.

Anger is a call to action, and YOU will decide the wisest, most effect actions to take that will bring healing  and peace to you and your family.

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