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You Have the Right to Feel What You Feel

Did you grow up believing that anger is wrong?

Maybe your parents told you, "we don’t do anger in this house.” Maybe expressing that you were upset led to orders to calm down, stop being so dramatic or to cheer up. Or maybe you were ignored whenever you were acting in a way that suggested you were unhappy or frustrated. Maybe it is your partner who responds toward you in this way today.

Whether it’s explicitly stated or implied, inhibiting anger prevents us from having a healthy relationship with our emotions.

Growing up in an environment where certain emotions were not welcome limits our willingness to authentically experience all of our emotions. It creates feelings of shame that cause us to miss essential messages from our minds and bodies. 

It is critical to cultivate an understanding within yourself that all feelings are okay. There’s nothing wrong with worry, jealousy, or anger. To the contrary, the ability to experience all of our emotions is a key component of being a healthy and vital human being.

Acting out on emotions in certain ways may involve wrong behavior but the emotion itself is not bad or wrong. Saying all emotions are okay doesn’t mean we give ourselves or our children license to act out on all emotions in whatever way seems fitting—jealousy over a play group friend's new doll wouldn’t justify snatching it for one’s own.  Anger over a friend's dishonesty does not justify smashing a stack of dishes in their bathtub.  But all of us, no matter our age, must have license to feel what we feel.

 

Like all emotions, anger provides us with valuable data about our inner lives.

 

Anger may be a signal to yourself that a part of you feels disrespected or unsupported. Perhaps you’re letting yourself be drawn into situations where your responsibilities are ignored. Anger might be a sign, as in the case of the friend's dishonesty, that your values are being challenged.

Investigate your emotions. The most challenging emotion to investigate for many of us is anger. Bringing curiosity to what you are feeling, opens your mind to the message the emotion is sending.

Journaling is a powerful way to investigate your feelings.

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Where is my anger stemming from?
  • What is my anger trying to tell me?
  • What can I learn from the way I am feeling?
  • What values are underlying the emotion?
  • What steps can I take to serve my values?
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