Don't you hate it when someone tells you not to be angry? People seem to think that they know best how we should or shouldn't feel. I was on the phone recently with a friend who needed to tell me something sensitive and prefaced it with "Now don't get mad at me for telling you this." So I responded (tongue-in-cheek) with, "Well then, who can I be upset with if I don't like what I'm hearing? Give me a name so I won't accidentally take it out on you."
Very often, when others tell us how to feel or not feel, it's because our emotions make them uncomfortable. If you are distressed, it may cause them sadness; if their spouse is angry they may worry that he/she might hurt or leave them. If I tell you not to be angry it may be because I feel pain when I see you upset. Then, too, I may worry that your anger may cause you to behave in a manner that is detrimental to your safety or well-being. If you get mad enough, will you take it out on another person - either verbally or physically? Will your anger lead to medical issues such as high blood pressure, headaches, ulcers or worse? Your well-being is a concern for me. My comments are a portal to what is occurring deep within me and are not necessarily about you per se.
Then, of course, there are those who become indignant regarding your rage. "Don't you dare be angry with me! This was all your fault!" "You have no right to be angry with me - not after all I've done for you!" These demands may be means for deflection: the individual may not want to take responsibility for their actions and attempts to manipulate you with accusatory, humiliating or shaming statements.
It is imperative, too, that you always consider the consequences of your ire. While anger is normal and useful, it is a very powerful emotion that has the potential to cause significant harm if channeled incorrectly. Likewise, it can generate a world of good when harnessed in a positive manner.
I was trained from early childhood not to get mad. "Don't be angry. It's a sin." "People won't like you if you're angry." So I learned to suppress and even deny my true feelings. I've since learned that emotions, all of them - even anger - are useful and serve a purpose. They function as messengers of our wounded selves and beg the question, "What needs to heal in me?" None are bad or wrong. However, it is the way in which we choose to express and use them that determine their value. Keep in mind: you have certain rights and "not" rights in this matter:
~ You have a right to whatever emotion you are choose to experience. No one has a right to tell you how to feel at any time ever.
~ You have a right to express your anger with the appropriate party(s) in a respectful and proper manner.
~ You have a right to protect yourself from someone else's improper, unacceptable, unkind or rude comments or behaviors.
~ You have a right to heal your anger and live in joy.
Your "Not" Rights:
~ You have no right to ever use your incense in a hurtful or destructive way, either against someone else or yourself, or to damage personal property. In that same regard, you don't have a right to hold on to or suppress it either as that can be harmful to your physical as well as your emotional well-being.
~ You have no right to tell others how to feel or not feel.
There you have it: the have's and have not's. But the real query is not "Do I have a right to be angry?" The real question becomes "Does being angry serve me and those around me well?" Is anger truly what you want to feel? Would you rather experience joy or happiness, stillness or peace, enthusiasm or hope? The human mind can only process one emotion at a time so carefully choose the one that serves you best. In that regard you have every right.
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Janet Pfeiffer, international inspirational speaker and award-winning author has appeared on CNN, Lifetime, ABC News, The 700 Club, NBC News, Fox News, The Harvest Show, Celebration, TruTV and many others. She’s been a guest on over 100 top radio shows (including Fox News Radio), is a contributor to Ebru Today TV and hosts her own radio show, Anger 911, on www.Anger911.net.
Janet's spoken at the United Nations, Notre Dame University, was a keynote speaker for the YWCA National Week Without Violence Campaign, and is a past board member for the World Addiction Foundation.
She's a former columnist for the Daily Record and contributing writer to Woman’s World Magazine, Living Solo, Prime Woman Magazine, and N.J. Family. Her name has appeared in print more than 100 million times, including The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Alaska Business Monthly and more than 50 other publications.
A consultant to corporations including AT&T, U.S. Army, U.S. Postal Service, and Hoffman-LaRoche, Janet is N.J. State certified in domestic violence, an instructor at a battered women's shelter, and founder of The Antidote to Anger Group. She specializes in healing anger and conflict and creating inner peace and writes a weekly blog and bi-monthly newsletter.
Janet has authored 8 books, including the highly acclaimed The Secret Side of Anger (endorsed by NY Times bestselling author, Dr. Bernie Siegel).
Read what Marci Shimoff, New York Times bestselling author, says of Janet's latest book, The Great Truth; Shattering Life's Most Insidious Lies That Sabotage Your Happiness Along With the Revelation of Life's Sole Purpose:
"Janet dispels the lies and misconceptions many people have lived by and outlines a practical path to an extraordinary life beyond suffering. Written with honesty, clarity, sincerity, and humor, this book serves as a wonderful guide for anyone seeking a more enriching and fulfilling life.”
Dr. Bernie Siegel says, "All books of wisdom are meant to be read more than once. The Great Truth is one such book."