What if you don’t feel anger?
In my last blog post, I talked about the role of anger and how it can serve as a warning system that we are experiencing other emotions. I discussed how for some of us, anger is felt when we are feeling emotions like hurt, sadness, embarrassment, shame, to name a few.
Well, there is another group out there; the “I never feel angry” group.
When I work with people who don’t report feelings of anger, I usually ask about other emotions as well. They often report that they don’t feel angry, hurt, sad, embarrassed, etc. very often. They talk about wanting to avoid those “negative” emotions. They identify those emotions as “bad” and these feelings are to be avoided at all costs.
Often they equate anger with violence—yelling, throwing things, punching walls or even people. First of all, we have to remember that emotions are not behaviors. Anger is an emotion. Violence is a behavior. Just because we are having an emotion, does not mean that we have to act on it.
Secondly, when we try to ignore or suppress some emotions (i.e. “negative” emotions), we end up suppressing ALL emotions. The “no-anger-feelers” report that they feel numb, bored, and “just going through the motions of life”. When I ask about other feelings and emotions, (i.e.” positive” emotions like happiness, contentment, joy, excitement, etc.), they report not feeling those very often. We are unable to selectively turn down specific feelings. When we try to avoid certain feelings, we end up cutting ourselves off from all of our emotions.
In other words, “no anger, no feelings”.
Part of the problem is judging emotions or feelings as good/bad or positive/negative. Emotions are just emotions. They aren’t “good or bad” or “positive or negative”. They are just feelings.
When we stop judging our emotions and allow ourselves to be aware of our feelings, we can learn a lot about ourselves. Emotions provide us information about how we are responding to and interacting with the world around us. They also give us information about how we are responding to the world within us.
A rich emotional life requires that ALL emotions be experienced. They don’t all need to be acted upon, but they do need to be felt. If you don’t feel anger, what other emotions are you missing out on?