By Arline Rowden
Have you ever thought, you make me so angry? I know I have thought and even said that at times. But is that really true? Can another person really make me angry? I recently discovered Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg which sheds some light on the cause of anger. This information has been available since the 1970’s so I don’t know how I missed it. Now that I found it, I’ve been telling others about it. But first I’ll share some thoughts about anger.
Anger is an interesting emotion. Even though we have been told that there are no good or bad emotions, we may still be a little judgmental about some of them, especially anger. Some people suppress anger because they have judged it as bad and others love anger and express it at the drop of a hat. Others are somewhere in between these two extremes.
In Chinese Medicine, anger is associated with the spring season and the liver and gall bladder meridians (energy pathways in the body). So just like plants that burst forth from the earth in springtime, anger can seem to spring forth with quite a lot of energy. The belief is that handling anger in an unhealthy way can adversely affect the energy balance and flow in the liver and gall bladder meridians and, over time, even affect those organs. Interesting ideas. I don’t know if there have been any scientific studies about that theory but science and western medicine have started to find a connection between how we deal with emotions and our health.
In the Ageless Wisdom Teachings, it says that anger that is held long term and not resolved can turn into resentment. And the Buddha taught that resentment is like having a piece of burning coal inside and the person hurls it at others to try to stop the burning. When I share that idea with others they say it makes sense. Resentment could be expressed by a person as angry attitudes such as: Uncooperative, Contemptuous, Hostile, Antagonistic, Vindictive, Argumentative, Mean, Bitter, Demanding, Vengeful or Hateful.
The person with a lot of unresolved anger and resentments might be unaware of how they are expressing themselves to others. They may just relate to being unhappy and that others may not want to hang out with them a lot. They may feel justified in how they feel based on how others have treated them. They may be unwilling to take responsibility for their lives and just stay stuck in blaming others and wanting everyone else to change.
How does Marshall Rosenberg address anger in his Non-Violent Communication books and classes? He says what another person does or says can trigger anger but it is not the cause of the anger. He writes that there is something inside the person that causes the anger, not what the other person has said or done. It’s the story, if you will, that they are telling themselves. It could relate to past negative experiences, self-esteem issues, etc. Also, the person who becomes angry has an unmet need that they may not be aware of and/or are not acknowledging. Mr. Rosenberg suggests that when a person experiences anger that they do not talk for a while and notice what they are feeling, thinking, remembering, etc. They need to identify what’s going on inside of them. They especially need to discover their unmet needs in the situation.
Of course, this is my interpretation of what he is saying. Please do your own research on You Tube and read some of his books. There is a lot of content that’s free. He gives great examples and explains his theory in a way that’s easy to follow. I invite you to discover: What’s the cause of your anger when something outside of you triggers it. It can be very freeing and empowering.