Why am I upset…really? Who am I really angry at? As I came to write this newest blog I decided to reflect back on a lesson in A Course In Miracles that I often share with my clients. “I am never upset for the reason that I think”. So often I have a client that presents that they are really upset with a friend, or a lover over something that they have done recently. But when I question them deeper I find that it is a much deeper sadness that is affecting them. And it is this underlying sadness or hurt from the past that is raising its ugly head and causing them to feel angry in the present. It may not even be connected to the person that they are angry at now. It could be that the recent situation triggers for them the memories of the way an ex used to treat them, or a parent. Whatever it is, it all boils down to the fact that they are not angry for the reasons that they think.
So how do we know what we are really angry at? First you need to check the level of your anger to see if it is truly appropriate for the transgression by the other person. If you can do this and be self aware enough to make a clear judgment that it is an over reaction, then you can take this next step. Now replace the word “anger” with another word. “Hurt”, or “Disappointed” or “Frustrated” or “Wounded”. Anger is an emotional REACTION, a defense mechanism to protect us from deeper hurt, or future hurt. But it is a very broad word that really covers so many deeper emotions. If you can get under the anger to feel the emotion, then you can see where it may be stemming from. We need to calm down the fire to see what caused it. Then I offer you to ask yourself this question….”Is there anything else that this situation reminds me of that may really be present here? IS there someone ELSE that treats me like this that has hurt me in the past? It could certainly be that the person you are angry at IS the person you are angry at! But it could also be because you have never brought up to them a past transgression. I say it is like a coke bottle that gets shaken up. The more you hold in your feelings towards someone, the more they build up. Then eventually something happens and you take off that bottle cap and it blows!
Now let me share with you a tough pill to swallow! Sometimes when you are angry in a situation the person you are angry at is YOURSELF! Sometimes we deflect onto the other person the fact that we are embarrassed about our behavior. Or that we really know we were in the wrong and don’t want to accept it, or fess up to it. Sometimes, just like in the above scenarios, it reminds us of another time we acted the same way and THAT is what we are angry at. So there is a huge healing that can take place if you can also ask yourself, “Is there any part of this situation that I am angry at myself over? Did I do something here to hurt someone else? Do I need to learn something here about myself that I do not want to look at?
Anger is a valid reaction to being hurt. But if we do not deal with the reality of a situation and just sit in anger then we can never move forward or heal. So I offer you now, the next time you are angry, to ask yourself, “Is this what I am REALLY angry at? Is the depth of my anger appropriate for the situation? Am I really angry at this person or someone else? If not, ask yourself why! Then try and peel away the layers and see what you are really feeling. Journal, talk to yourself…do what you need to do to get to the root of your feelings. Then you can take the steps in any situation to move past the anger and heal the true hurt. Or in some instances…just let it go!