What Do You Do When You’re Angry? ~ Deborah Lange

Via elephant journal
on Jul 20, 2012
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Ignore the first sign of anger at your own peril.

Do you explode when you are angry? Do you deny being angry when someone tells you to stop being angry? Or, do tell yourself and others you aren’t angry while you are actually seething with anger?

Some of us were taught to suppress our anger and others to let it out, but very few of us have learned to understand that anger is our friend.

It is an amazing emotion that is screaming out in our bodies to teach us something—when anger is present, this usually means that we are ignoring something or tolerating something that is not serving us.

If we can learn to notice the first signs of anger, we can give ourselves what we need to heal the source of our anger.

Healing the source enables us to be more of who we are born to be:  joyful, happy and at peace.

Covering up, suppressing or letting it all out unconsciously hurts us as much as it hurts others.

Not speaking up for your true self or allowing yourself to be disrespected, judged or controlled can lead to anger and/or other emotions such as frustration.

These emotions can be repressed and lead to a dulling of our spirit—or they can be expressed as anger in an outrage of vindictive words or actions. Neither of these ways are loving towards ourselves or others.

If we can listen to the first sign of anger’s call, we can then choose to take responsibility for ourselves and take loving actions to heal the sadness underneath the anger.

When we choose loving actions, the anger is transformed and we freely express our true, authentic, loving nature.

I was coaching a client, Roland, who was working with a group of people in extremely challenging conditions.

Roland had facilitated a group session that had gone extremely well. Roland had, however, made an example of how two of the group leaders had chosen to reconcile their differences. Whilst this was extremely effective for the group, he did not have the permission of the people he referenced to use them as an example, because the situation had arisen in the present moment.

One leader, Bob, could see how useful this was; the other leader, John, took offense. However, John did not speak to Roland about the feelings that arose, nor did he reflect and take responsibility for understanding his reaction. The “offense” lay brewing and turned into anger and judgment against Roland.

John finally called Roland in.

“Ronald, last week every time I saw you speaking with Bob, I thought the two of you were both colluding against me. I think I am probably making up this story but I do not like the two of you working together. You are also making lots of suggestions for the ways we could do things and I don’t want you to. I am the leader and I will make the decisions with my co-leader, Bob. If I want your suggestions, I will ask for them. Is there anything you want to say?”

Roland said, “Well, I am glad you said you are probably making up this story of Bob and I colluding against you. As you know, Bob and I are friends and we have not worked with each other for a long time; we have lots to catch up on. Of course we are not colluding against you. As for the suggestions, I do not expect you to act on them—I am merely offering ideas.”

“That is all,” John said.

Roland was dismissed.

Roland told me he had wanted to tell John that he was threatened of someone else being successful and projecting this onto him. However, he did not say this because Bob had requested that Roland not speak up, in order to avoid rocking the boat any further. They had two more weeks to work together and Bob felt it was best to smooth things over.

Roland thought he could let his feelings go, even though he felt that John was being controlling, judgmental, and disrespectful. Roland continued to do what was expected in his role.

He told me that as the days passed there were many times when the group was talking about a project and he felt inhibited to speak. He was controlling himself to meet John’s demands. He said he could feel his anger rising.

John now seemed to think he could continue to control Roland—to bully, to dominate and to be autocratic.

Roland felt there was nothing he could do right.

His body started to seethe inside. He began wondering if he should speak out or not after all.

I coached him to listen to his feelings. He said he felt sad and angry due to being controlled, dominated, judged inaccurately, blamed for something he did not do and then punished. He then felt his energy for contributing diminishing and he started to feel small.

I asked him what he needed to do for himself to restore his authentic self. He said he needed to let John know the consequences of his behaviour towards him. I coached Ronald how to talk to John and share the effect his words and directives had on him—without placing blame on John.

Ronald initiated a conversation with John.

“John, I felt crushed the other day when you spoke to me. I felt punished. I felt like I had to take responsibility for the assumptions and feelings that arose in you when I was facilitating a very successful session. This does not work for me. I have been controlling myself since you told me not to contribute. I am giving you back responsibility for the feelings and thoughts that emerged in you.“

To Roland’s surprise John apologized.

He said, “Yes, I thought after our conversation that I was blaming you, but I did not realize this would impact you. I guess I needed to let you know what insight I had gained. Thanks for letting me know how you were impacted.”

Roland was at peace with himself again. He had given himself a voice. He had been treated with respect, and he did not have to place the blame on John.

Roland realized that if he had spoken his truth rather than protecting himself and Bob in the first place, he would not have spent days being uncomfortable.

However, he also acknowledged himself for having the courage to take responsibility for his feelings—Roland learned to listen to the call of anger.

Whenever there is anger, there is always a great lesson to learn!


My journey has taken me down many paths—on each path I have deepened my own wisdom and my ability to guide others to find their truth and give themselves the courage and the freedom to live a life that makes them come fully alive! I have been a teacher, a high flying consultant, a housewife, a mother, a caretaker for my dying Mother, a mosaic artist, a facilitator, a gardener, a researcher, an investor, a roadie for an Irish harpist, a coach and more. Now as I grow into eldership, I am sowing the seeds I have gathered of truth and wisdom so that I may help others on their journey, while I grow into my new role as author. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn—or send me an email at deb@deblange.com.au.


Editor:  April Dawn Ricchuito

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16 Responses to “What Do You Do When You’re Angry? ~ Deborah Lange”

  1. Wonderful advice, Deborah.

    Great to have you here on elephant.

    Bob W. Associate Publisher
    facebook, twitter, linkedIn
    Yoga Demystified, Gita in a Nutshell

  2. […] the entire article, click here. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. ▶ No Responses /* 0) […]

  3. Thanks Bob!!! great to be here!

  4. Pankaj Nangia says:

    I've found that in life, I've usually pretended that I'm angry. And I also realized that if I didn't sound angry enough, most people thought that I was all right with the situation. So many times you had to shout at people, just to make them move, even though you were not actually angry.

  5. Hmm interesting Pankaj, are you pretending to be angry to control other people to do something??!!! or are you expressing I think the differences here with being highly approachable or highly credible with authority. For example, different cultures do have different ways of talking, mannerisms, the Italians and the Spanish tend to talk quickly, lots of emotion, lots of body movements – the Germans and The English are more still when they talk, stand tall seem to have more authority – start to watch news readers – which ones do you pay attention to ? if someone called out fire – would they say it with a voice of authority (not anger) and would you act- versus someone calling out "fire" in a friendly invitational tone or maybe there is a fire maybe there isn't voice! I guess what I am saying is I think you are touching on something different and important here!!!

  6. Pankaj Nangia says:

    I guess, what I said was incomplete, and lacked a context. As a person, I'm happy go lucky. I keep smiling through most situations and don't easily get riled, even when provoked. When I said the above, I was actually picturing myself at work – in situations where people try to take unfair advantage of your good nature. They say or do things which are not ethical. When I see through the intention, I still try to talk it over in a decent manner. Since you don't sound like you are overly agitated, they stick to their plan. At times like these, I raise my voice to sound angry, so as to dispel all thoughts about my complacency. Once you act angry, the message goes out quicker and louder. And a few minutes later, I'll be talking to them again, as if nothing went through us..

  7. Dealing with ethics in the workplace by naming it and bringing it out into the open is most noble Pankaj. The anger that arises here is a friend as well providing the motivation to take the action to be strong about the principles that people have agreed to honour in the workplace. As soon as we take responsibility for taking action and see a result our anger usually dissipates. A suggestion maybe you could start a conversation group about ethics in the workplace. Allow others to be transparent about unethical behaviour with the intention of influencing a workplace culture where everyone takes responsibility for being ethical. The intention being encourage a culture of transparency, honesty, ethical behaviour etc. At the moment maybe you are the only person taking responsibility for ethos at work?

  8. realtortracy says:

    Thank you for sharing this and big kudos on coaching Ronald with such a fantastic way of expressing himself when he approached John about his feelings. Really outstanding and deeply aware of the nuances of interpersonal relationships.
    Having grown up in a household of overflowing anger, I learned to be aggressive in self-defense or the defense of others. When I realized how easily I could anger others unintentionally, I began myself shrinking away from conflict. Finding the correct balance is something that I struggle with and this was a great reminder.

  9. Realfortracy good on you!!! I have found with both myself and the people I coach the more and more aware you are of your body sensations the quicker you can pick up what is happening and either see if there is something you are not giving yourself and then give it to yourself; or something you are tolerating that is not in your highest good then speak up about it; or take action etc. There is also a great anger process I learnt from Dr Margaret Paul. If you feel angry or know that you have suppressed your anger for maybe years and so it pops up – take yourself somewhere where you feel safe and private an to express your anger – – not to a person – but to a cushion or the ground or a stick if you are outside – first let the anger go through your body and yell at the cushion as if it was the person who made you angry, and be angry really let yourself go, say whatever, beat the cushion, etc, then when you have said everything you need say your body will probably stop, then think of who else brings up anger for you in your life, the next person to come into your head, and do the same thing, totally giving yourself the freedom to yell and beat at the cushion, when all that anger has been released then do exactly the same thing again. This time express all the anger that has never been expressed to yourself at what you have tolerated, what you are angry about yourself not doing or doing or seeing, or how you have abandoned yourself for others etc – You will be surprised at what you find. There is usually deep sadness under the anger that has never been honoured or is still to be honoured.

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