Mad as Hell: 4 Ways to Sit With Anger


It’s safe to have anger. Anger won’t consume you as long as you manage what you do with it.
— Robin Custer, MSW, LICSWA

You know the feeling: maybe a headache or stomachache, narrowed field of vision, feeling white hot or icy cold. You might feel like you can’t sit still - your heart racing, and your jaw clenched.

You want to yell, cry, or kick something. If you looked in the mirror, you might see your face flushed red or drawn pale skin, narrowed eyes, and lines in your forehead.

If you survived childhood chaos, distress, or abuse, you have a lot to be mad about: screaming and feeling off kilter in your childhood, never feeling good enough, seeing or experiencing distress and shame.

Some people are angry at grandparents or other relatives and neighbors who didn’t know – or if they did know, didn’t do anything to help or keep them safe. You might be mad at the parent who didn’t abuse you – the one who was supposed to protect you. Or at your brothers and sisters who are still connected to your abuser.

You’re mad at your friends, now, today, who don’t understand and think you should just “forgive and get over it.”

You might be really mad, furious and full of rage - as well as an infinite number of other feelings - at the person who hurt you, the people who made your childhood a living hell, treated you like a thing, made you question everything about love, family, trust, and even your innermost feelings.

And you’re mad at yourself. Why didn’t you tell? Did you do something to cause it? Why can’t you just move on? When you got away, you might have left your siblings behind. You survived. You didn’t confront the person who wrecked your past, you didn’t stop him.

Four things you can do with your anger

  1. Know and believe in your heart that your anger is justified. Anger is a feeling –  it isn't good or bad, it’s just a feeling.

It’s OK to be good and mad. You get to be angry, and can express anger in ways that don’t hurt you or others. And, it’s safe to have anger.

2.      Work toward forgiveness – of yourself. Ask yourself these questions:

·        Did you do the best you could at the time, for example: not telling, not making it stop, your mind protecting you by “not knowing” parts of it, leaving the family.

·        Are your friends capable of grasping? If not, do you want to continue to have relationships with them for other reasons and find emotional support elsewhere? Do you want to invest in these friends to help them understand and potentially become supports? IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.

3.      Hold yourself in wonder. You survived. What stubbornness, spunk, wild streak, will to succeed, gentle soul, fierce soul must have made that possible! You are a force of nature!

4.      Set an intention – ask the universe, God, whatever you believe in that’s bigger than you, to help you notice one awesome thing each day. (Awesome - in the true meaning of the word: causing or inducing awe; inspiring an overwhelming feeling of wonder, reverence, or admiration, a sense of wonder.)

How do you sit with anger? What helps you get through it? Post below what works for you. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you want more, email me to schedule a free telephone consultation, where we can discuss one strategy to do anger well.

You can reach me in Seattle at Balance InSight, 206-790-7270.

Thanks for reading, and be well. ~ Robin