It is okay to get Angry

It is okay to get angry. Anger is a natural response to injustice, or a trigger alerting us that something is wrong. Even Jesus in the bible got angry. Having feelings is totally normal.

What we don't want is to stay angry, or to act upon that anger in a way that causes harm to ourselves or others.

Anger is like a warning light that goes off and let's you know that something isn't right. Our goal then should be to find out what is the real message behind that anger.

The first step is to calm ourselves down. Why? So that we don't act rashly, and we are able to look beneath the anger at what is really going on.  You may have heard of our initial stress responses of flight, fight, freeze. Much research has gone into this. I love Daniel Seigel's explanation about flipping your lid. He has several videos and articles (here is a little google search for you) Basically when we are operating under stress, and anger, we are not utilizing our whole brain, just those basic stress responses. By taking a few deep breaths and pausing a moment we can reengage the whole brain and think more clearly.

This sounds simple enough but it really takes a lot of practice. One simple mantra that I've come to appreciate comes from Dr. Laura Markham of Aha! Parenting. She uses STOP, DROP, BREATHE.

Stop - physically stop what you are doing
Drop - drop your agenda, most of life isn't an emergency
Breath - take some breaths to calm down

Karol Ladd shares another acronym that is also effective in her book "A Positive Plan for Creating More Calm, Less Stress".

S - Step away from the situation
T - Take several deep, calming breaths
O - Objectively look at the situation and employ self-control
P - Pray

A few other ways to release that anger include:
  • Visualizing yourself releasing the anger,
  • Moving your body in ways that help like yoga
  • Meditate
  • Walk away or take a step back
  • Take a time out for yourself
  • Journal
  • Pray to whomever you believe in
  • Just the simple act of getting a drink of water or washing your hands is tactile and gives you a chance to gather yourself.

I also have a free PDF full of ideas on what to do when kids push your buttons (this also applies to any situation) that you can get free when you subscribe to my newsletter.

So now that we are calmer. Where does that leave you? 


Now we are ready to look at the feelings and needs behind the anger. 

The processing of your feelings and needs, and being able to present your requests in a way that leads to more empathy, come from the works of Marshall Rosenberg.

We want to next clearly look at what happened. Observations are different that judgements. State only what you can with your 5 senses, not what you are thinking. Often our judgements of others or a situation prevent us from moving past the anger towards solutions.

How then do I feel in relation to what I observe. What are my feelings or sensations? Remember we are talking about your emotions not about the issues or what other people have done. If you say, "I feel like...", that isn't a true feeling.

Now take hold of your own thinking. Offer yourself empathy, reflect on your feelings and search for the needs associated. According to Marshall Rosenberg all feelings when we are upset are a result of an unmet need. What values or needs to I have as a result of how I feel?

List of Feelings 
List of Needs
4 part process

Once you know what your deeper feelings and needs are it is much more productive and easier to proceed. Well truthfully it might not be any easier, but you should by now have some clarity. Now you are ready to make a request. This can be of yourself or someone else. 

If you are interested in learning more about communicating your requests with empathy, contact me and we can work through that or, I can direct you do the best resources and people who taught me. 

Do check out  Non-violent communication for more on empathy communication.

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