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Mothering › Health Articles › Then Again, Maybe Anger Can Sometimes Be Good For You

Then Again, Maybe Anger Can Sometimes Be Good For You

pregnancy, pregnant-642Last week at Mothering Outside the Lines I resolved to improve my marriage.

Part of having a happier marriage, I think, is learning how to express negative emotions to your spouse in a way that he or she can hear. If we yell and accuse (Exhibit A. That would be me) we just make our partners defensive and upset. But if we communicate and problem-solve together (Exhibit B. That would be Alisa Bowman, whose book I wrote about last week), we can work together to get to a better place in ourselves and in our relationships.

According to Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., a world renown specialist on anger and author of the best-selling book, The Dance of Anger, anger is both a natural emotion and an emotion well worth paying attention to.

Dr. Lerner argues that anger can be productive, and that recurring anger can help a person become aware of a more serious underlying problem.

Lerner believes that anger should not be used as an excuse to blame other people.

Instead, anger should be recognized as a signal that harmful behavior patterns need to be changed.

When men and women pay attention to their anger and use it as a starting point to change then anger, according to Dr. Lerner, is something for which we can be grateful.

How has feeling angry helped you make a change for the better in your life?

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Tags: anger, anger management, changing for the better, Harriet Lerner


Comments (4)

I'm often aware that my anger, for example at my kids' behavior, is very much my own reaction (though you wouldn't believe how irritating they can be…!). But when I look at my reactions, they can have an uncomfortable resemblance to what was modeled for me by adults when I was a child! That isn't fun to see in oneself. But I'm responsible for my own reactions now, and have time to change them. On the other hand, when I do blow up at them, they sometimes seem suddenly to feel closer to me, and happier. It's as if they needed me to check their behavior, their uncontrolled desires, and to show that they effect me. Throw that in the mix...
Years ago I was teaching an English class at a college in Massachusetts. A librarian came to class to teach the students how to use the catalogue. She was belittling to the students and rude to me. I was surprised and angered by her behavior. I complained to the department chair and to her supervisor. It turned out she had a history of almost emotionally abusive behavior towards people, especially students, at the college. Her supervisor had been unable to do anything to correct the situation because until she made me so angry others had been too intimidated to speak up. Her supervisors and others who had lived with the problem thanked me repeatedly. If I hadn't gotten so angry by the way she was treating my students, I never would have said anything. Though it was an unfortunate situation to begin with, I'm grateful I paid attention to my anger to protect the students who were being belittled and make a positive change.
I think anger often masks other emotions -- fear, hurt, disappointment, frustration -- but, of course, it's sometimes hard to see these things clearly in the moment. .-= sarah henry´s last blog ..11 Food-Related Goals for 2011 =-.
To me, anger is just like any other emotion: its natural and needs to be understood and accepted and expressed in such a way that the other can hear it. So I think you're really on the right track! I am aware that my anger often covers my hurt. Its easier for me to be angry because being hurt makes me feel too vulnerable. My husband is the opposite. Its easier for him to show hurt than anger. After 34 years of marriage we're able to see this in each other and help each other express what's underneath. But its taken a long time!
Mothering › Health Articles › Then Again, Maybe Anger Can Sometimes Be Good For You