By Rob Furlong
Angry people can do a lot of damage.
If you haven’t discovered this yet, listen to the advice of The Incredible Hulk’s alter-ego, Bruce Banner, who politely warns all those who would provoke him, “Don’t make me angry – you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!”
His message is clear: “Get me angry and you will unleash the beast, and it won’t end well for anyone…”
Unresolved, uncontrolled, and inappropriately expressed anger leaves a destructive wake in relationships, both for those on the receiving end, and the angry person.
Part of growing into an emotionally mature person is recognis ing where and how you express anger may be negatively impacting your life and relationships, and developing new, healthier habits.
One of the first growth steps for me in this journey was to learn how to identify the type of anger I struggled with. Essentially, there are two types of anger:
Fiery anger is the kind that flares up quickly and then “vomits” all over people. It doesn’t require much to set it off: fiery anger bubbles up inside the offended person, resulting in a tirade against the offender but significantly, as soon as it is expressed, it settles down. Having “gotten things off their chest”, the once angry person now feels great … but everyone else is left to clean up the mess.
You do not have to be a genius to figure out this type of anger produces enormous frustration, hurt and fear in relationships.
Frustration and hurt because those on the receiving end have things said and done to them which leave deep emotional (and sometimes physical) scars, and fear, because they walk on eggshells, doing their best to not set the angry person off again.
Volcanic anger is quite different. Like a seemingly dormant volcano, this person’s anger simmers away beneath the surface, rising ever so slowly until it finally erupts.
Just like a volcano, the eruption can go on for a long time, is usually far more destructive than fiery anger and can often lead to the angry person holding deep-seated grudges against others.
Fiery anger may well damage relationships, but volcanic anger will destroy them.
Volcanic anger is not pleasant – I should know, because it is the type of anger I struggle with.
Having come to the point in my life where I needed to face the fact I did not deal with my anger well, it was an amazing revelation to discover the type of angry person I was.
“Fiery anger people” usually do not hold it in – they are angry, and it is there on display for everyone to see.
“Volcanic anger people” appear calm but inside they are all the time quietly pushing their rising anger down.
We call this “stuffing”, and I was a classic “stuffer” when it came to anger. Following a hurt or perceived slight, I would just push it down, telling myself to not get angry. This could go on for days, sometimes weeks, but inevitably there would be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and my anger would erupt!
Learning this was liberating because I became more aware of myself, and how I processed my anger and from there, I was able to develop healthier ways to both process and express it. This was not an overnight process – no positive change is ever easy – but over time, significant and lasting change took place.
Over the next several months I want you to come on a journey with me as we explore this difficult emotion of anger, along with exercises designed to enable us to express our anger healthily – it will change your relationships for the better!
Exercise for March: Read over the section on the two types of anger again and decide which is most like you.●
By Rob Furlong