One of the issues that the film Spit’in Anger is driving up is our struggle with mental health. After each showing we conduct a Q&A and I am struck by the amount of people who are dealing with some level of anger. We must seek ways to provide people resources to manage, overcome and articulate their feelings as a result of not having their fathers in their lives.
All people, regardlessof age, gender, race or economics experience anger at times. It is a normal human emotion that can range from a feeling of annoyance when you’re stuck in traffic to the fury youmight feel when something happens to hurt you deeply. Feeling or being angry isn’t “bad.” The most important thing tounderstand about anger is that there’s a difference between feeling anger andexpressing anger. People who have problems with anger usually don’t know how toexpress it in appropriate and constructive ways, and this can negatively impact our families, relationships,communities, and ourselves.
Harmful Ways ofExpressing Anger
Holding it in - Holding anger in means that you “pushit down,” avoid thinking about it, talking about it, and/or addressing it. Peoplewho deal with anger by holding it in typically avoid confrontation or walk awayfrom a conflict without saying how they are truly feeling, but may be boilinginside. This approach can be harmfulbecause, over time, anger can escalate, turn into resentment, and likely, theissue(s) that made you feel angry in the first place typically do not go awayor get resolved. Holding anger in canalso lead to social isolation, anxiety, depression, physical health problems,as high blood pressure, and can lead to sudden outbursts of verbal or physical violence.
Outbursts - Some people are under the misconception thatventing anger is always healthy. This is not true. Uncontrolled angry outbursts and tirades typicallycause anger to escalate in the angry person and those around him or her. It can lead to violence, verbal abuse,arguments, bullying, and intimidation. Such outbursts can scare, harm, and prompt anger and violence in othersas well. Remember this: if you express your anger through uncontrolled ventingand outbursts of rage, you are demonstrating a lack of respect for others andwill possibly lead others to believe you are unstable, impulsive, unreasonable,or dangerous.
Being Indirectly Aggressive - People who have notlearned how to constructively deal with their anger may develop rigidpsychological defenses that allow them to express their angry emotions withoutdirectly acknowledging them. Passive-aggressivebehavior involves “getting back at people” or finding ways to “punish” or hurtthem while never actively admitting to themselves or others why they are angry.People who express anger indirectly often do so by being cynical, dismissive ofothers, sarcastic, bitter, overly sensitive, or hyper-critical.
Being Out-of-control- Anger out of control or controllingyou, is unsafe because it is anger that simmers under the surface and boilsover into explosive rage. Out-of-controlanger is frightening and often leads to violent and damaging behaviors towardothers, animals, or property. This is never healthy or acceptable.
If you express your anger in any of these unhealthy ways, itmay be a sign that your reactions are related to a deeper unresolved personalissue or incident and that you need to seek help for anger management.
The healthiest way to express anger is always calmly andsafely. You can express your feelings inan assertive manner, but never in an aggressive or threatening way. However, this requires you to:
Remember, it is impossible to eliminate feelings of anger,so your goal should be to express it in ways that will help you earn respectfrom others, be closer to the important people in your life, and solve, ratherthan react, to problems.
This blog post is the second in a series about anger promptedby the documentarySpit’in Anger: “Venom of aFatherless Son” produced byFathers Incorporated in association with Ties Never Broken. The documentary explores the expressedand unresolved anger in Black men and boys as a result of Fatherlessness. Visit<a>www.spitinanger.com</a> for moreinformation and resources.