Anger as an Ally (September 2020, Part 2)

Here are some possible action steps to build your anger awareness:

  1. Normalize anger as a natural, necessary emotion. All of your feelings are valid and useful. By editing or censoring your anger, you’re removing a vital part of yourself. All emotions are welcome to the table. Identify and name your anger when it’s present, and observe it with curiosity and non-judgment.
  2. All of us grow up with an anger blueprint—how anger was expressed in your family of origin. Take the time to write about how anger was expressed or unexpressed within your family. By raising your anger awareness, you will have the opportunity to notice when you fall into old themes and patterns and how to move beyond them. Ask yourself how you want to express your anger today in safe and productive ways. Sort this out with a therapist or sponsor who will guide you along the way.
  3. Express your anger by letting others know what feels okay and what doesn’t feel okay. This is a hallmark of effective boundaries. By knowing where you end and others begin, you keep your side of the street clean. Again, check in with a confidant if you’re feeling unsure about setting boundaries. There will be some trial and error so be patient with yourself as you try things on for size.
  4. Distinguish between anger and rage. Anger generally brings people closer, and rage distances people. Anger can be direct, clear and honest where rage is messier and often indirect. Pay attention to these emotions and practice clear conversations with your therapist, sponsor or loved ones.
  5. Keep writing about your anger and your resentments. By keeping a daily or weekly log, you can process the feelings that are heavy or burdensome. If you practice the twelve steps, utilize the fourth step as a way of staying current with your resentments and processing them as they come along.
  6. Full expression of anger is an intimacy-builder. Not everyone has the capacity to process your anger with you, but ask those you trust to see if they would be willing to listen to your anger even if it involves them. When you identify emotionally-reliable people in your life, the door is open for deeper intimacy.
  7. By tracking and expressing your anger more freely, you will be less likely to fall into out-of-control sexual behaviors. Check in regularly with a confidant, a sponsor, a coach or a therapist to build connection and open communication. If you do have a slip or relapse, go back and see if any unexpressed anger or resentment might have been present before the problematic behavior occurred.

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