You Wanna Butt Heads With Me?

Goats are the gentlest of souls. Yet, sometimes, even the nicest, easy going goat needs to say “Stop messing with me!”20140717_073237

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

Anger used effectively is a tool for self-care. Anger unexpressed is a health issue that 20140717_110822contributes to depression, anxiety, backaches, headaches, stomach problems and many other common complaints.

We need to set boundaries – or stop complaining when life steps on our hooves.

About almondhead

I am a mental health counselor in private practice. One of the focuses of my practice is helping people with fear, anxiety and their ugly stepsister, depression. I became a counselor after a long career in the technology world, so naturally, I think of the brain as an engineering problem. It can help to understand something about how the brain works. I decided to start this blog as a way to help other people learn about fear, anxiety and relationship. (All our problems are really about relationships.) You can also find me at:
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2 Responses to You Wanna Butt Heads With Me?

  1. I agree with you and love this post, however, I am a person that has trouble when I get angry controlling what comes out of my mouth so I tend to avoid avoid, shy away not say anything else and retreat to my safe home with my family. I have PTSD so then if I get angry here comes the panic attacks. What should I do to help strengthen myself and state my emotions without having a panic attack?

  2. almondhead says:

    Since you have PTSD, I am sure you have seen most of the common advice about managing it. So, you may already know the things I will mention.

    I am a strong believer in daily meditation. It helps train the brain to be calmer in high stress or high emotion situations. It strengthens what is called Vagal Tone an important factor in our “rest and digest” state (the opposite of fight or flight). I often note that when I start a day with 20 minutes of Yoga and 20 minutes of meditation, that day just goes better. I wish I could get myself to do it every day :).

    As for when a panic attack starts, I think the best advice is to get the physical symptoms under control. When heart rate increases, the brain naturally thinks there is a threat. This sets off the cascade of thoughts and emotions that turn into a panic attack. Google the topic “Vagal Maneuvers” for advice on calming yourself.

    I hope this helps and thanks for your comment.

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