Anger is a signal

Posted by Samantha on July 18, 2011 in Anger, Boundaries |

Anger is a signal, and one worth listening to.

Harriet Lerner, American psychologist and author (b. 1944)


I love this way of understanding anger.

I’ve learned to listen to my anger.  And now I’m learning what to do with it once I’ve spotted that it’s there.

Sometimes it’s a signal that I need to let go of my desire to control outcomes and leave my children be.

Sometimes the signal means that I need to take care of myself – I might be tired or hungry or upset or overwhelmed.  So I take steps to give me what I need, knowing that my children’s needs cannot always take precedence over my own.

My anger might mean I’m afraid of something I’m making up about my children’s futures.  What my mind tends to invent about my children in the future – without my consent I might add – is almost always unreasonable.  So I come back to trust.

The signal may mean that I have an unreasonable expectation that needs some adjusting.  That expectation can be about me, my partner or my children.  Through listening to these anger signals I’ve learned to let go of some real misery-making beliefs that were seriously jeopardising my peace of mind!

Anger frequently means there’s a boundary that my children have – wittingly or unwittingly – stepped over that I need to gently and lovingly enforce.  If I’ve left it too late to enforce lovingly, I take care of it anyway.  Boundary violations left to fester turn to resentment and then potentially rage.

A long while back, I had only two things that I could do with anger: bottle it or explode.

Today I’ve learned that my anger is a signal worth listening to.  Then I can choose to do something constructive about it and let it go.


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