From a very young age, we learn that anger is kinda scary and might even be a sin. Little kids color anger in bold reds. Cartoons present anger as steam shooting from the character’s ears. No wonder most of us do anything we can to avoid it.
Listen in this week to hear how anger isn’t just seeing red or losing your temper and how it could actually be the key to marital bliss.
Mentioned in this Episode
- Check out the Defying Gravity Revolution – a Candice-led community of Bees committed to stop wondering if they married the wrong guy so they can enjoy the marriage they imagined when they said “I do.”
- Grab your free e-copy of “Wife on Purpose” and the companion workbook HERE
- If you’re a coach who wants to up the trauma-informed factor in your sessions and your business, join the Trauma-Informed coaching interest list HERE.
- Follow Candice on Instagram and Facebook
‘s Up, Bees?!
Remember how last episode was all about me hating surprises?
I’m working on it, but it’s still true. Like I said last time, I don’t even like what most people might consider “good” surprises – like drop in visits from friendly neighbors bearing cookies.
I know they mean well and I know I’m supposed to welcome visits… but visits are actually pretty hard for me to handle.
So, if you stop by my house unannounced, don’t be surprised if I don’t answer the door.
My kids will probably try to answer the door, but I’m doing my best to train them to hide around the corner with me until the doorbell ringer gives up and leaves.
It’s not that I don’t like people or new friends. I actually love entertaining and hosting parties.
But only when they are planned and I know what to expect.
You might think that’s weird and maybe even a little extreme – but here’s what I know.
You probably feel that exact same way about something.
Most people do.
Most people view emotions the same way I view unannounced visitors.
This is especially true for emotions that are typically considered unpleasant – like anger.
Which brings us to today’s topic: what anger is and isn’t.
From a very young age, we learn that anger is kinda scary.
Kindergarteners color it in bold reds. Cartoons present anger as steam shooting from the character’s ears or as an intense energy that causes a character’s body to tremble or rise up several inches off the ground.
I’m here to tell you that all of that is NOT actually anger.
All of that is a REACTION to anger – and the two things are 100% not the same.
It’s important to make the distinction because when you equate anger with the stereotypical REACTIONS to anger – it makes sense that you’d want to avoid anger at all costs… which is actually pretty unhealthy and not at all what I suggest you do.
Anger itself is an emotion of advocacy.
It shows up because it senses that your needs aren’t being met or that your boundaries have been crossed.
We WANT our brains and bodies to alert us to when either of those things might be the case because if our brains and bodies DIDN’T let us know that our needs might not be met or that our boundaries are possibly being crossed… we might die. Like literally die. Really.
And if we didn’t actually die, we’d be VERY uncomfortable if we didn’t have met needs or respected boundaries.
So OF COURSE we want our brains and bodies to stay alert and keep us informed.
Anger is a bat signal for you to purposefully respond to.
It is not a virus you’re at the mercy of.
See the difference?
When Bat Man sees the giant bat signal splayed across the sky, he doesn’t suddenly lose his agency or become a mindless drone of emotion.
He simply gets the message about a potential problem and then purposefully collects all his skills, tools and faculties to consciously set things in Gotham City right again.
So consider the option to think of your anger as something you can trust – something that can help you identify and honor your needs in an aligned and effortless way.
Sometimes we do this pretty easily.
For example, if someone you didn’t know tried to enter your home without invitation – you probably wouldn’t think twice about yelling out a warning or demanding that they leave.
Why is that one easy?
Because you probably already believe in your right to defend the sanctuary of your home. It makes sense to you that you’d be angry if someone tried to violate your need for protected space.
Other times, honoring your needs can seem a little trickier.
Like if your neighbor asks for a favor you don’t really have time for or if your husband spends money that you’d planned for something else.
Why do those kinds of things seem harder?
Because… you’re not totally sure if it’s allowed for you to spend your time or money in the way you want to – especially if your desires conflict with someone else’s.
PLUS – you’ve probably been told, lots of times and from lots of sources, that it’s best to be agreeable and understanding and giving.
Since you’ve been told all that, it’s likely that being all of that seems important for social acceptance.
Notice that angry is NOT on the list of things you’re “supposed” to be.
So if you feel angry, you probably tend scold yourself or dismiss the feeling instead of leaning in to see why it’s there.
Which makes you miss out on getting to know yourself better.
Just like me hiding from the unannounced visitors makes me miss out on making a new friend.
So – the next time you notice yourself feeling sorta angry, instead of scolding yourself back into faking love or forcing understanding before you’re really there… consider how acknowledging your anger might actually be the key to your personal empowerment and overall marital satifaction.
Ask yourself the following questions and REALLY give yourself time to answer:
Do I know that I’m allowed to think things are NOT okay?
Do I know that I’m allowed to think things are NOT okay even if other people think they are?
Do I know that I’m allowed to think things are NOT okay even if other people really, really want me to think they are okay?
Do I know that I deserve to be listened to?
Do I know that I’m allowed to set and enforce expectations?
Your answers to those questions determine the number of choices you are currently letting yourself see in your own life.
You’ll always have more choices when you trust that your sense of anger is bringing you useful information about how you deserve to be cared for.
When you are aware that you don’t have to “go along to get along”, your yes and no answers will be more REAL – because they’ll be more freely given from an aligned place in your heart.
Anger shows you the places where you’re out of alignment and places where you are believing you have to take what you get and just make the best of it.
Anger shows you where you can advocate for yourself and the life you want even more than you already are.
Anger doesn’t have to mean that you yell at people or say things you later regret.
Anger doesn’t have to mean that you throw things or slam doors.
Anger doesn’t have to mean that you spew hate or dig yourself into deep feuds with those you love.
Again, anger is an emotion of advocacy. If you let it be there, it’ll show you where there’s opportunities for you to be treated better and to treat yourself better.
Anger is like the big brother on the playground who shows up to protect you against a bully.
Anger says, “Don’t mess with my little sister – I don’t want to have to pop you one.”
Anger DOESN’T want to pop anyone one – it only wants to strengthen boundaries and make sure need are known.
All of that can be done quietly. Anger can roar if it needs to, but it doesn’t have to AND it never has to roar in an out-of-control way.
Like the bat signal – it lights up really bright and big, but only to claim your attention.
Or like a gun fired into the sky – it’s loud and jarring, but only to settle a chaotic scene, not to actually hurt anyone.
Anger shows up to call attention to things getting out of hand.
Anger isn’t meant to bring more hurt at all – it’s meant to acknowledge existing pain so the hurt won’t get any worse.
The additional hurt only comes when we try to silence anger or push it away. Like I said before, the REACTION to stuffing anger down or trying to ignore it is what causes more pain, not the presence of the anger itself.
Anger itself is simply the way warning energy vibrates through your body.
Maybe you feel some heat rising in your cheeks.
Maybe there’s a burning deep in your chest.
Maybe there’s a rolling sensation behind your sternum that builds up speed as it goes.
Anger shows up differently for everyone and that’s ALL it does.
It just shows up to get your attention – like the bat signal or a shot fired into the air.
Totally harmless. Just a notification really. Like all of those red dots decorating the apps on your phone.
YOU get to decide what to do with the notification.
You could use it to advocate for yourself by requesting a change or making a change yourself.
You could decide to pretend you don’t see the signs and let them sit there festering.
We tend to think the second option is the safer one, but it isn’t.
Ignoring anger may delay the explosion, but the eventual fallout will probably be more devastating.
So here’s my challenge to you for 2023, Bees:
If you’re telling yourself you have to like or make the best of something you actually don’t like….
You never have to do that.
It’s still true that you can tell any story however you want to – your brain really is powerful that way.
But PLEASE don’t use that power against you to make yourself tolerate something you’d really rather not have as part of your life or your marriage – that’s a TERRIBLE misuse of the tools I teach here.
You deserve better than that.
You deserve your thought work adventures to be as easy as possible because you’ve committed to being your own advocate all along the way.
Which means acknowledging your anger when it arises.
It means noticing your personal bat signal and deciding on purpose how to respond to your known warning signs.
Let yourself tell the truth about the hard parts of your marriage WITHOUT making it mean that you aren’t doing enough thought work if parts of your marriage still hurt.
That’s simply not the case.
Sometimes marriage sucks. Please don’t make it suck more by abandoning yourself. Instead, be honest with yourself about what rubs you the wrong way and what makes you flip your lid.
Get curious about why. Find the unmet need. Redraw the boundary line.
Trust your anger to tell you when your safety and peace are about to be compromised or have been compromised already.
Of course that’d be a reason for anger to show up.
So – question outdated ideas that anger represents a lack or a sin in you.
The opposite is actually true.
Anger is your bodyguard – because you are special enough to deserve one.
Listen to anger’s signals and adjust accordingly. Because when you do, you’ll take care of business in an explosion-free way like the boss and the Bee that you actually are.
Choose courage, Bee and keep on flying!