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On anger

My grandmother always wore dresses until she didn’t anymore. That time came when she was in the nursing home and she was wearing adult diapers. It was simply easier for the attendants to make her wear jogging pants to help keep them on. I didn’t understand this at the time and so I commented on her pants. I commented on how nice they were and said they must be comfortable. My grandmother looked at me with great astonishment and she said “I’m not wearing pants” and then she looked down at her legs and then looked back at me and stated again “I’m not wearing pants”. Even in the face of reality she stuck with what she had known to be true her whole life.

There are many people who are like this about their anger. When you point out to someone that they’re angry they’ll often say “I’m not angry!” They’ll say that they’re “frustrated” or they’re “upset” but they won’t say that they’re angry. They have all the signs for it but they won’t say it.

I think our greatest problem is that we won’t acknowledge what really is happening outside or inside of us. How can we heal our brokenness if we won’t even admit to ourselves that we are broken?

It is OK to be angry. Anger is a normal feeling. It isn’t healthy to be angry all the time, though, and that can happen when we fail to recognize it and handle it in a healthy way.

Think of anger as needing to go to the bathroom. There is something that is in you that needs to get out. This is a normal part of being a human being. With bowel movements, we are taught as children how to recognize that feeling and to go to the bathroom to eliminate. The bathroom is a safe and appropriate place to take care of this need. If we don’t take care of it in a timely manner then we can end up with physical problems due to having this no-longer needed matter inside us. Or we can have an “accident” and get poop all over ourselves and others.

Anger is just like this. If we keep it inside too long we can hurt ourselves or have an “accident” and spew anger all over the wrong people and in the wrong place. If we don’t do it in an appropriate manner we can make a real mess.

An important part is learning to recognize the feeling. Just like with poop, ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. It will only get worse. But before that, it is important to admit to yourself that anger is real, and it is normal.

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