Wednesday, April 21, 2010
What's it to you, punk?
Title: Honor Your Anger: How Transforming Your Anger Style Can Change Your Life
Author: Beverly Engel
Publisher: Wiley, 2003
I've been reading books on expressing and dealing with anger, and this is one of the best ones I've found so far. This book asks a lot of readers. You must be prepared to take many quizzes, do exercises, and think. If you are up to that (or even only part of it, as I was), the book provides a great analysis/discussion of various styles people use in expressing anger. You learn whether you tend to internalize ("anger-in") or externalize ("anger-out") your anger, and then you determine which anger style you tend to use and evaluate how it's working for you. There are primary and secondary anger styles, and all are connected as well to one's communication style. It is acknowledged that you may have more than one style depending on context or situation.
Anger styles that work: the assertive anger style (calmly state your problem, use I-based statements, etc.) or the reflective style (think about it all before moving to assertion). Anger styles that do not work include: aggressive, passive or avoidant, passive-aggressive, and projective-aggressive. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, people--or, if you do not, this book can help you figure it out. I found it illuminating to see the many drawbacks that come of not acknowledging anger. This does not make you un-angry; you just channel the anger into probably not so awesome behaviors and patterns.
The author starts the book with a revealing discussion of her own problems with anger, and I liked her much better for this honesty. It also showed that she was perfectly suited in some ways to write this book.
About all those exercises: she asks you to do lots of reflecting on how anger got/gets expressed in your family of origin, and then how you use it as an adult. Readers are invited to write an anger autobiography; analyze the way anger was handled in one's family and by one's parents; and so forth. The exercises also include the writing of "anger letters" to those who have made you angry. Note: you do not necc. send these. You just try to collect your thoughts in them. Also, the author asks readers to consider forgiveness and apology or "letting it go." She manages to make that sound not stupid or annoying, and I found truth in what she said.
Anger can, Engel points out, motivate us, make us goal-oriented, give us energy and inspiration--or it can make us depressed, resentful, trapped, and immobilized. I found lots of insightful things in this book, though I must confess I was not up to doing the extensive amount of work suggested in the exercises. Perhaps I will go back to it later.
Me = anger-in; tending to the passive aggressive or avoidant; but other times also aggressive, if I know you well enough. Am free, however, to go into rage over smaller things: I might become enraged if the "l" key on my keyboard were not working properly.