Anger gets a bad rap because often people go overboard. They think that expressing anger means yelling, calling names, putting the other person down, or worse. That’s not anger; it’s childish rage. Anger can be expressed effectively without raising your voice or doing anything intimidating to others.
The purpose of our angry feelings is to tell us when someone has crossed a boundary with us and that we need to stand our ground. Failure to stand our ground leaves us feeling helpless or victimized.
Behaviors that people engage in when they fail to stand up for themselves include:
- Passivity – not taking any action
- Blaming others because we don’t get what we want
- Building up feelings until we explode in a childish tantrum
- Getting even behind people’s backs (passive aggressiveness)
- Gossiping or telling others how awful the other person is
- Avoiding the situation
Recognize any of these? I’m sure you can think of others.
I knew a woman whose husband had a habit of telling people about her mistakes with her standing there. She often avoided being near him is social situations. One day, at a party, when he was telling a story about her, she calmly said, “Why do you find it necessary to embarrass me in front of others?” His jaw dropped. Other people looked uncomfortable.
Later she told me that she did not think he even realized how she felt; she had never told him before. It was easier to think of him as a jerk than to stand up for herself.
Research tells us that “not standing up for yourself” is one of the most damaging behaviors you can do in a relationship. It builds resentments that kill fondness and respect.
Plain and Simple Advice
We need to set boundaries – or stop complaining when life steps on our hooves.