I grew up in a home where anger wasn't handled well. Let me take you back there:
Now, don't get me wrong. My mother lets her anger flow freely, but she rarely uses the actual words "I am angry". Instead, her anger comes out as hurtful criticism, put-downs and emotional bullying.
My dad isn't any better. He bottles his anger up so badly that he often seethes with resentment so loud that I can hear him muttering under his breath when I'm playing in the next room. It's frightening.
All it takes is for mum to walk in and say, "What's wrong with you, you stupid creature?" and, bang, next round of World War III is back on again.
What I learned from all this was the idea that anger was somehow a bad thing, that it was a bad emotion that I should never feel, because it always seemed to be expressed destructively around me.
As a result, I learned to push down my anger very hard, to suppress it. In fact, I pushed it down so hard that in the end I barely even felt it.
This was a big problem because anger is there to motivate us to stand up for ourselves, when our boundaries are being violated or when we're not getting what we want from other people.
As a result of this, I turned up at my all boys' high school with no anger to defend myself and got bullied all over the place. The world started to feel like a really hostile place because people didn't seem to treat me very well and that was largely because I wasn't standing up for myself, because I wasn't dealing with this anger properly.
Now, I reckon a really great metaphor for exploring anger is the courtroom scene from A Few Good Men where Lieutenant Kaffee goes head to head with Colonel Jessup. So I highly recommend that you go have a look at that scene right now.
Here's my rendition of it:
Welcome back. So in that courtroom scene, we've got Lieutenant Kaffee going head to head with Colonel Jessup, and for me Colonel Jessup in this scene can be used as a metaphor for anger.
These guys are really basically at two extremes of the spectrum. So Lieutenant Kaffee, on the other hand, can be used as a metaphor for that part of us that has been conditioned to shut anger down and to say, "No, you shouldn't get angry," and, "You mustn't get angry".
These guys represent two ends of the spectrum, and as usual the truth is somewhere in between. But there's a lot of truth also in what Colonel Jessup says. See, deep down in places that we don't talk about at parties, we want him on that wall. We need him on that wall. We really need the force of anger inside us to motivate us to stand up for ourselves in certain situations.
Now, I'm not recommending that you go around just killing Santiagos, which is a bit of a metaphor for just letting your anger dump on other people or exploding violently or being really aggressive with it.
There is another option. You don't have to be ordering code reds all over the place when you're feeling angry. What you can do is be assertive rather than aggressive.
The way that we do this typically, a great way, is to use the assertiveness formula. You say to the person that you're angry with, "When you did" - whatever it was they did - "I felt angry." And then you can often make a request of them to see if they're willing to give you what it is that you want or perhaps to stop doing what it is that you don't want.
You don't even always have to say that you're angry. Sometimes it's simple enough to just use that force to motivate you to stand up for yourself and say to them what it is that you'd like.
I was on the beach the other day when someone was smoking nearby me and I was finding the smell of smoke really irritating. I just said to them, "Would you please not smoke near me?" And, sure enough, they put the cigarettes out and I got what I wanted.
So, remember, anger is not a bad thing. It's not good to suppress it or internalize it. You'll end up very unhappy if you do that. What you want to do is learn to express it constructively and assertively rather than aggressively.
Now, if you're struggling with anger or any other emotion, I highly recommend this book. It's called the Keys to Emotional Mastery by my mate Nicholas De Castella, and I've included a copy of an electronic version of this book in The Confident Man Program as one of the free bonuses.
There's an excellent section in there about anger. In fact, this book is the most concise and simplest and just the best description of the way to master our emotions that I've read anywhere, and I've read very widely on this subject.
So I highly recommend that you check this out in The Confident Man Program. There's also a section on anger in Section 2 of program guide, which I recommend that you check out.
Start getting out there and using your anger to stand up for yourself if you have been unassertive in the past, learn to express it constructively and you'll be amazed at how your whole view on the world changes.