There seems to be a prevailing belief in Western culture today that anger is bad. To call someone an “angry person” is usually an insult and is certainly not a compliment. I am here to argue that anger is not the problem.
Anger is a natural human emotion. Every human being in the world has experienced anger, it would be alarming if they hadn’t. And although there is a subset of the population that has a problem with the way they experience the emotion, for most people, the problem is in the way that they deal with and express anger.
There are three different ways in which people express anger: aggressively, assertively, and passive aggressively.
Assertiveness is the healthy way (see http://wp.me/p3OyRd-96). To be assertive means to directly and confidently express what you want and how you’re feeling. An assertive person addresses the issue at hand, but will not tolerate disrespect from others and will not disrespect others.
We all know how destructive aggressive behavior can be in relationships (explosive angry outbursts, screaming, yelling, throwing things, swearing, verbal abuse, physical violence, etc.), it’s what we picture when we hear the phrase “lose your temper,” but there’s another relationship killer out there that is just as deadly, yet too often seems to slip under the radar of criticism: the slow poison called passive aggression.
Passive aggression means to display aggression indirectly. In other words, instead of coming out straightforwardly in an assertive fashion, anger comes out sideways (resentment, hints, eye-rolling, backhanded compliments, sarcasm, bitter notes, insulting gifts, “vague” Facebook statuses, etc.) because it certainly doesn’t just disappear when we sweep it under the rug. A passive aggressive person will outwardly agree to avoid confrontation, but will inwardly resent others.
There are only those three choices when it comes to expressing anger, and it can be incredibly difficult for some to find the right balance, but assertiveness is crucial to problem solving in relationships and the alternatives lead to great destruction.
DISCLAIMER: Once again make sure to read these behaviours all the way through thinking about which ones you are guilty of, before moving on to think about the faults of loved ones. We can only change our own behavior.
More resources for the passive:
(Assertiveness Training http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=51) (Assertiveness Tools http://psychology.tools/assertiveness.html) (A great book on developing healthy boundaries http://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-When-Take-Control-Your/dp/0310247454)
More resources for the aggressive:
(Controlling Your Anger http://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.aspx)(Anger Management http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/controlling-anger.aspx)