Do You Know How to Use Anger Constructively?

You can learn how to use anger constructively. You don’t need to be afraid of it. Anger is a common emotion. I often refer to it as secondary. It doesn’t usually pop up until you’ve been feeling something else for quite a while. When that other feeling doesn’t resolve, your emotional energy can run low and anger becomes the go-to. Anger is a useful emotion, but people (women) are often afraid of it. Today I want to share my story with you about how I actually got so angry with someone that I wanted her dead! I’ll follow this post up with how I used the anger as energy that supported assertive action, turning the situation around.
In reality, I’m quite a loving person, and since I was 7 years old I vowed to myself that I would never hurt someone else with angry words or actions. So you can imagine what it was like for me to feel this inside:
use anger constructively
I have to say that I never anticipated such strong emotions to ever take over my body, and I never imagined that I would ACT on them.

But I did . . .

Here’s what happened. It was June of 1999. NATO had been enacting air strikes on Kosovo and my (then) husband’s family reached out to us for help.

Three years earlier, his family in Serbia helped us bring our daughter home from an orphanage in Belgrade – in spite of UN sanctions, which required us to get smuggled into the country by the Hungarian mob. (There’s another story for another day!)

Now, family in Serbia were asking if we could host their daughter in our home to shield her from the horrors of the war.
Plans were quickly made and we brought 18-year-old Bojana (prounounced boy-anna) to come and live with us. Since she was of Jewish heritage, I reached out to the synagogues in our area for support. They sponsored her with a full scholarship to the local community college.

Everything seemed perfect. Bojana would have the chance to create a bright future for herself in safety, with family and community support.

I drove her to the college and helped her get registered and purchase her books. I showed her the public transportation system. The synagogue sponsored her travel to and from school, so that was covered. We were good to go.

For about a month.

I often came home early during the day because my baby was in kindergarten and I had my private practice set up so that I worked while she was in school and was finished in time to pick her up.

When I came home, I often found Bojana sunbathing in the back yard and chatting on the phone in her native language; I wondered how she was doing that. When I asked her, she said that she told her friends in Serbia (via internet chat) that she was home from school, then they called her.

Gullible and ever-so-willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, I believed her.

Until the phone bill came.

use anger constructively

That bill was bigger than our house payment!


Suddenly, all feelings of charity and concern I had for Bojana were gone.

Can you see my point here about how anger is the result of other feelings unresolved? The previous feelings were replaced by betrayal and fear that led very quickly to anger.

And THIS is the secret to item #2 on your Relationship Rights Checklist. You have the right to feel angry. You have the right to express it responsibly. It’s healthy to feel the anger, recognize what you need and take action to get your needs met. You can learn to use anger constructively.
I was able to use anger constructively to ensure safety for my family. Exactly how I did that is the subject of next week’s post.

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© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2016 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.