1. Chris Bacon says

    In my formative years, my expressions of anger always had terrible and humiliating outcomes. There were no exceptions to this. I dissociated to protect myself and my pride, and this became a very strong pattern. But my anger at this injustice stayed with me and went underground and is more and more alive in me as I slowly remember and start putting the pieces back together. I don’t seem to be very alone in this. As such, I see the work that is happening here as very critical and extremely challenging for some of us and probably many of us.

    What I have been learning from Susan Chapman’s in her greenzone workshops is to look for the initial experience of the insult or the shocking wake-up call. That initial tender-hearted experience contains a deep truth and the rest of it is subject to all kinds of confusion. If you can feel the pure gold and understand it, you are much better informed to effectively pursue whatever change is needed.
    Thank you,
    I will get the books !
    Chris Bacon

  2. Sandy says

    I’d like to address the responsibility of the person hearing the anger. Often someone else’s anger will trigger an Ego response which causes nothing but escalation of emotions. When I hear someone who is really angry my hope is to calm my body and mind and start listening deeply. The results is often a way not only to deescalate the anger, but to open space for clear understanding and communication.

    I am so glad to have come across this conversation as it has reminded me not to fall into fear and judgement with the anger being expressed in our world today, but to examine my part in perpetuating this situation of inequality. Being raised as a privileged white person, I feel additional responsibility to stop responding “I’m not racist” and to begin listening carefully to black citizens, allowing them to express their pain and anger so I can wake up to what is really going on in our world with race bias and how unknowingly I’ve played a part.

  3. Gordon Benson says

    Spot on Sloan. And to literally pursue someone who Shuts down and walks away from you because you are behaving angrily, as Rod says he does, is obviously not going to help. I think Thich Nhat Hank’s approach is wiser: “When you get angry, go back to yourself, and take very good care of your anger…Do not say or do anything. Whatever you say or do in a state of anger may cause more damage in your relationship.” (Anger, p24). How true! He continues, “Most of us don’t do that. We don’t want to go back to ourselves. We want to follow the other person in order to punish him or her.” Or else to MAKE them see we are right and they are wrong. He continues, “If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist.” (ibid).

  4. This is a great article; and I’m so glad the real conversation is finally happening in our country. I believe that long over due change is occurring right now, on many fronts. Your openness and honesty will make a big impact, I hope.

    There is one thing I will offer for your consideration. Sometimes, a person’s tone may not be the point but it can still have a very real impact on the listener. I know this from my personal experience and from observing others.

    I have PTSD that was originally caused by developmental trauma (repeated violence against my body as a child). As such, my body became conditioned to recognize “angry tones” as warning signals for violent attacks. To this day, my body still physically responds to angry tones as though I am about to be physically attacked. It doesn’t matter what my mind thinks, my body believes it’s in danger. That definitely causes discomfort and a visceral desire to either defuse the situation or escape it.

    Of course, I realize my situation and those of people with similar backgrounds is unique. But it’s not totally different than everyone else. Many people are living with heightened sensitivity today from too much stress in their daily lives for way too long. It may not be because of “big T” trauma but sustained, long term stress has very similar effects on the sympathetic nervous system. So the fight or flight response is an issue for many, many people. And an angry tone can translate into a violent tone for many people, at least on a subconscious level.

    Learning how to effectively communicate when we’re angry while still being mindful of the way our tone might be affecting the other person is something I do believe is worth the effort.

    That’s just something I thought you may want to contemplate since you are in an excellent position to talk about communication and anger in ways that can help change the world for the better.

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