Guidelines for Understanding and Managing Anger

By Author and Emotional Wellness Coach Dianne Lancaster

(c) Copyright 2006 Dianne Lancaster All Rights Reserved

You may be interested in this article if you say mean things when you are angry, say hurtful things to someone you love, or say things you don’t mean when you are angry.
  1. Love is the emotion that manages anger. It is the emotional response when our needs are met.
  2. Love is the creative emotion. In an ideal world, we would all experience sufficient love to create a meaningful, fulfilling, prosperous life. Then anger would not be necessary. As it is, when love has not created the conditions we need, we have that additional, extra-effort emotional tool — anger — to interact with those conditions and, ideally, make them better.
  3. Because managing anger is an emotional responsibility, the more love we have inside us, the greater our capacity to manage anger. Love is the emotion that manages anger, and self-love is the love we have inside to manage the anger with. Adding to our supply of self-love is not self-ish. It is essential to our emotional security and well-being. Self-love is the source of love from which we experience and express love… for our children, our family, our intimate relationships, our friends and co-workers, neighbors and community.
  4. Certain types of efforts to manage anger — like counting to 10, meditation, working out, getting a massage, wringing a towel, hitting a pillow — may help to diminish the suppressed anger that has accumulated to the degree it is uncontrolled and uncontrollable … but to truly change emotional patterns, different emotional options have to be put in place. To truly change the automatic anger-based patterns, new loving emotional responses have to be learned.
  5. Anger is the emotional response when our needs are not met. If our anger is out of control, then we are continually making choices in our life that disregard certain basic needs. As a parent, we may be trying to give too much time or energy to our children or our family without resupplying our own needs. The longer we continue this pattern, the greater the continual buildup of anger. We may want to meet others’ needs; we may be trying to meet others’ needs; we may feel that we have an obligation to meet their needs; we even may feel guilty that despite our best, exhausting efforts we still aren’t meeting their needs; but if we are not regularly adding to our own emotional capacity, we cannot meet others’ needs… and our anger is the messenger about the futility and dysfunction of this pattern.
  6. Since love is the emotional response when our needs are met, to add to our supply of love so that we have more emotional capacity to manage anger – and the capacity to meet others’ needs – we must make choices that meet our needs. Time alone, time with friends, sports, music, art, writing, meditation, reading, exercise, getting enough sleep, being out of doors, better food choices, time management, better financial decisions, keeping the house in order, quality time for the children … the more of these we experience, the greater our capacity to manage our anger.

    Anger strips away the capacity to enjoy life. Making small changes that begin to restore hope and joy gives us some sense of control – like, getting up 10 minutes earlier in the morning so we don’t start every day by frantically rushing to get to work on time.

  7. If our anger is out of control, we lose self-trust and self-respect. We say things we don’t mean; do things we regret; and react in ways we can’t love. When we promise loved ones we “won’t do that again,” but then we do, that is because the reservoir of anger inside is so huge and intense it is, literally, uncontrollable.

    Stopping powerful patterns is difficult. Stopping them when they are already engaged is almost impossible. The patterns must be addressed before they are fully engaged. Building up more love inside (by making changes that meet our needs) is part of the process for reversing uncontrolled anger. Asking loved ones to help at those times can also add to our motivation and capacity to change. We can ask our child to say to us, “I don’t feel your love right now.” Or, “I need to feel your love right now.” Or, “I need you to stop yelling at me and say things in a loving way.”

    These agreements with our loved ones will give them some power. At those out-of-control times, hearing them say they need to experience our love can help us reconnect with love. Although it is not their responsibility — it is ours — to change our unloving emotional behavior, asking them to participate is one change that can help.

  8. The purpose of anger is to produce change. Its purposefully disruptive properties are designed to interact in a situation that does not meet our needs, and rearrange the situation so that it does meet our needs. If the intensity of our anger is not sufficient to create the changes we need, then our anger is telling us we either need to change situations — or we need to change our capacity to respond to the situation differently.
  9. Anger is a normal, even appropriate response to certain every-day life events. Rage is an accumulation of unexpressed anger. Anger produces change. Rage destroys everything on its path, and its first destructive impact is on self-love.
  10. Rage indicates the degree to which we feel powerless to create the conditions we need. Rage indicates the degree to which we desperately need to experience love. Rage indicates how desperately inadequate we feel in terms of connecting with the love we need.
  11. In an angry exchange, a person may be very angry but still very in touch with love. When a person is angry but not in touch with love, that is rage. When we love what we are saying, love how we are saying it, and are in touch with love for the person we are angry with, that makes our anger safe. Any other conditions make our anger unsafe. Any anger expressed without love is anger turned into rage.
  12. Although anger is more intense than love, love is more enduring. Therefore, anger does not displace love. But rage does. When disciplining a child, the child may not like the anger, but if it is expressed with love, the child can trust the anger. If the anger is not expressed with love, then the child learns to distrust anger — ours and their own — and that will result in cumulative emotional dysfunction. The child will be afraid to express anger and the unexpressed anger will eventually accumulate into rage.
  13. Anger is a proportional emotion. As such, it can be trusted. As a God-given emotion, anger is meted out in the quality and quantity of energy necessary to create the change we need. That is the purpose of anger: to produce change. And as a divine, proportional, purposeful emotion, anger wells up inside us in proportion to the incident occasioning it. A minor incident will occasion a raised tone of voice. A deliberate abuse will activate a much more powerful response.

    If we find ourself expressing more anger than the situation calls for, we are drawing from the reservoir of unexpressed anger — the reservoir that has accumulated into rage. When this happens, it is important to be able to stop the exchange the moment we recognize our response is out of balance. Even if we don’t yet have another option developed inside, we can at least say, “I know what I usually say and do at times like this and I really don’t want to do that again — but I don’t know what else to do — so I’m at least going to admit that right now, and I really need your help in getting through this moment differently.”

  14. The hidden message behind anger is, “I need to feel more love.” Anger is often an effort to change something outside ourselves. But out-of-control anger is an indication of something needing to change inside: namely, increasing the experience of love. The more intense the anger, the more intense the need to feel love.

    Finding a way to break out of the out-of-control pattern will reinstate self-love (which is the only love we can create). It will also tap love from the other person. At least by saying, “I’m really trying to do something different right now,” the opportunity for accessing self-love is available – and if the other person can help intercept and redirect the familiar destructive pattern, new potential is created at that very moment.

  15. Whereas love is the enduring emotion, anger is designed to be a non-enduring emotion. Its properties are purposefully uncomfortable so that we do not hold onto anger and allow it to accumulate into rage. If we tend to deny or hide our anger, thinking that doing so will somehow make us more appealing — attract to us more love — the absolute opposite is true.

    Developing an internal inferno of old, unexpressed anger ensures we will be attracted to, and attractive to, people who have that same reservoir of rage. Emotionally healthy people will sense that rage and not want to risk being emotionally “singed” by it. They may not recognize that it is the rage that keeps them at a distance. They will simply not return phone calls, or they will always be busy when we ask them to go to lunch or to a movie.

  16. Unexpressed anger keeps us tied to the past. So long as it is stored up inside us, it keeps us remembering all the arguments. All the incidents. All the abuse, the blame, the times we felt criticized, ignored, lied to, and shamed. All the times we were not understood, not valued, not nurtured, not heard, not supported, not given a chance, not treated fairly .. and mostly, not loved. Halting those memories as they come up, and directing our attention toward being productive in our life at present, will help diminish the power of the old anger.

    Making changes in our life so that we do have something we enjoy — do have something to look forward to — do have something that reinstates our self-worth and self-love… these efforts will add to our capacities to change the automatic anger-based thoughts that stream through our mind regularly. Indulging in the memories gives them power. Overriding them gives us hope.

  17. As a God-given, loving, proportional emotion, anger is designed to be expressed at the time and to the degree it is felt. Then it is released and the enduring emotion, love, returns. If we manipulate the anger, by denying or suppressing it, then our anger becomes manipulative. It loses its integrity and proportionality. The manipulated, manipulative anger becomes untrustworthy and unloving.

    To reclaim our emotional integrity requires being honest about our anger, saying at the moment the anger comes up: “I’m feeling angry; this is what I’m angry about; and this is the change I need.”

  18. Manipulated emotions produce emotionally manipulative people. Intimidating, controlling, withdrawing, teasing – these are types of manipulations. They are the product of suppressed (therefore unexpressed) anger. Specifically, they are unloving. A healthy supply of self-love within will not allow someone to subject themselves to such manipulations. Those individuals will summon their anger and use it to produce change – exiting that situation in a self-loving manner and moving on to another that is more loving.However, in order for their anger to produce the self-loving change they need, they must use and trust their anger when it first arises. Otherwise they give up their power, and the patterns within the other person that they are yielding to (because of dependency or fear of being rejected or thinking that to act self-lovingly will compromise a great job), those patterns then have control and a negative, self-destructive outcome is the only possibility.
  19. Like all anger-based patterns, the inclination to enact the above is the result of survival-based patterns developed in early life. All children need to feel love. Children who grow up in an angry/rageful environment are especially deprived of love. Their need for love is therefore even greater. And since their need for love is so strong and unmet, when they regularly experience manipulative (and often abusive) emotions, they become conditioned to that experience. It isn’t love, and it isn’t loving, but it’s what they are used to experiencing.

    They desperately need to feel love. They need to feel that they are loved. Their self-image needs to feel that it is lovable (because to admit the truth about their experience of UnLove, and the feelings they develop about themselves as a result, is too terrifying), so their dysfunctional needs, combined with their dysfunctional survival mechanisms, often activate in a manner that in early life convinces them that they are loved… and that “this is just how [their] parents show love.”

    This UnTruth becomes such a strong survival mechanism in early life that when the child matures into adulthood, the adult often still gravitates to similar emotional patterns – and similarly emotionally inadequate situations. The dynamics are so familiar, they feel like family. And the dysfunction is so great, that because (a) families are “supposed to be loving,” and (b) the unloved child had such a “need to feel loved,” and (c) the truth of being unloved was so impossible to accept, and (d) the conditioning of UnLove is so powerful that it attracts others who need love vs. have love to give – that this syndrome produces the angry, needy, “Serially Unloved `Adult.”

  20. Unable to attract love with the love that is within, the Serially Unloved Adult resorts to manipulation in order to obtain love. “Seduction, Exploitation and Abandonment” becomes the pattern which this unloved individual uses to find love by (a) acting loving (by meeting others’ needs), and (b) acting loved (by pretending that everything they do is fine – because to admit that some things are actually not fine would, in this person’s eyes, jeopardize the relationship and the [misguided] possibility of [finally] finding love).

    When that scenario does not produce love (because the need for love can never create the experience of love), then the anger from all of the UnLove (including from the current relationship that actually isn’t meeting the person’s needs… but the person has been unwilling to acknowledge that anger… because to do so would ruin with the seduction routine… but in the end…) that anger is unleashed.

    The seduction occurs when we try to attract love by being everything, and doing everything, that meets the other’s needs. “My first wife used to get angry when I left my clothes in the middle of the bathroom floor. I’m so glad that doesn’t bother you.” and “I don’t mind that you drive so fast all the time. I’m getting used to it.” and “It’s fine that you want to go to your parents’ house by yourself. It gives me time to read.” (In other words, if I say the truth you might get angry and/or not want to be with me anymore. So I’ll lie… to you and to myself.)

    The exploitation follows when, once we’ve “got” them, then we can reveal that (a) we’re tired of (angry from) always meeting their needs; and besides, (b) we have some needs of our own that we want met in this relationship! The other person is “shocked” to learn this. “But I didn’t sign up for this relationship based on meeting these needs you have! You hid these needs! If I had known you had them I wouldn’t have gotten into this. I would have known I couldn’t meet these needs. I probably wouldn’t even have wanted to meet these needs. I don’t like them. And I really don’t like that you set me up this way… acting like everything I did was fine with you… and now coming up with all these criticisms and complaints and things you want me to change. I mean, I can’t do this.”

    The abandonment that follows is at minimum emotional (they shut down or withdraw or develop a constant state of smolder); and, quite likely, this develops into physical abandonment because one of you flees the situation.

    The one who leaves “has to.” It’s been the only survival mechanism for years. This person has no emotional options inside to draw from that are more mature, or more emotionally adequate. Years of anger and UnLove have produced arrested emotional development. Regardless of the adult’s age or size or apparent successes in other aspects of life, the emotional immaturity inside is debilitating. Caught up in the complexity of dynamics that adulthood and intimacy and kids and money issues produce, this person is ill-equipped emotionally to navigate those complexities.They require an emotional security and adequacy that this person’s emotional repertoire has never developed. Once the demands and dynamics of a situation bring that person to the brink of his/her emotional capacities, the person has nothing inside to advance, halt or heal the situation. The person is immobilized, terrified, and furious that once again, the need for love has not been met.

    The self-contempt inside is also activated. The person who functions in this manner can never feel self-trust or self-respect. Whether the role is as the seducer or the seduced (and it does take both; each is practiced in their role; each finds the other’s dynamics compelling and appealing because these are the only dynamics they find familiarity and [temporary] security in); and regardless of how inauthentic the whole production is; regardless of how UnSelfLoving every moment is, it is what they know; it is all they know; it is what they do; and, not only does it always fail to find love… it always also produces more anger because it never meets their need… for love.

    After each failed effort, the desperate need for love is even greater. The anger and self-contempt built up inside are also greater. Thus, the seduction intensifies. The desperate needs now attract an even more needy, more desperate, more inadequate Serially Unloved Adult.

  21. The only love we can ever experience is the love within. It is typical in this culture to say, “I love you.” But it would be more accurate to say, “I love the feeling inside me that your presence creates.” The love we feel is inside us. Some thing or some one simply activates that love. However, if we have not accumulated love within, then the need for love is critical. So the Serially Unloved Adult spends a lifetime taking notice of how loving people act; how loving people interact; and that person then adapts those behaviors in an effort to obtain love – from others and from pleasing others, instead of Being the quality of person they can love. When they love who they are, love is always with them. They are always loving who they are, and they are always expanding that love.

    Since love is the enduring emotion, adaptive, seductive, manipulative actions cannot be sustained by someone lacking love within. That disconnect between actions and emotions produces increasing inconsistencies in the intentions/behaviors. Seduction is based on the need for love, not the presence of love. Emotional integrity becomes, therefore, an imperative capacity because manipulative, seductive tactics trigger anger.

    We can and must trust our anger to flush out individuals who function with these tactics. Regardless of their resources or their position or their promises or intentions, what someone functioning in this manner can actually contribute is worthless. Whatever they do or offer is based on need, not capacity. It cannot last.The instability and inadequacy and dysfunction within this type of person are so great that they are continually in various stages of this process. Knowing (although not necessarily admitting) that this strategy never works, once the exploitation stage engages, the person knows the signs – knows the escalation of anger and the degeneration of the relationship – and knows it is only a matter of time before the whole situation crumbles.The person therefore starts up the seduction with someone else simultaneously with the exploitation of the current target – because – this person has absolutely no capacity to be alone. There is no love within to support this person. This person has to engage in a strategy to have someone else to go to once the exploited/abandoned outcome occurs. The Serially Unloved Adult thus moves on to the next person and the next situation in the next desperate attempt to find love.

The purpose of anger is to produce change.
If anger doesn’t change the relationship
You need to change relationships.

(c) Copyright 2006 Dianne Lancaster All Rights Reserved


Anger As A Spiritual Teacher
By Dianne Lancaster

  • If we have sufficient love in our life, we use love to create what we need. If we have sufficient love in our life, we use love to transform anger into patience, understanding, compassion, and forgiveness.If we increasingly experience anger, it is a message about love. To increase our experience of love, the message is about needs. Love is the emotional response when our needs are met. Anger is the emotional response when our needs are not met… and humanity’s principal need is for love.
  • Managing anger is an emotional responsibility. The emotion that manages anger is love. To feel more love in our life we must do things that are good for us; do things we enjoy; do things that meet our needs; and be the type of person we can respect and love.The love we can create is within. We can create more love in our life by acting on the insights that come from our soul telling us what is good for us; indeed, what is us. Our standards for Being are soul-directed. We are God-created – and that GodConsciousness placed us on the Earth Planet because Earth is where we come to learn about love. ALL of the teachings and lessons to enable us to experience love are right here.Love is humanity’s emotional reward for its courage to express the truth. Every time we disregard a truth we compromise our relationship with love. The quality and quantity of truth in our life determines the quality and quantity of love.The ego attracts the quality and quantity of truth that it lives. Developing a more seamless relationship with truth is, therefore, the ego’s only way to develop more love. And because love is the emotion that manages anger, being honest about one’s anger is a way to both eliminate the patterns that attract anger and a way to accumulate more love within.
  • Truth is the word humanity uses to describe the quality and quantity of information coming directly to the ego from the GodConsciousness by way of the soul. The ego cannot create truth, it can only receive truth, and it does so directly from the soul, through intuition.Truth vibrates like nothing else on this planet. Truth is the energy that evolves human consciousness. It is therefore unlike the vibration of the energy/information that creates the ego, the subconscious or the unconscious because truth evolves those levels of human consciousness. Accordingly, truth comes from the Supraconscious – the Soul.
  • The ego attracts the quality and quantity of truth that it lives. Developing a more seamless relationship with truth is, therefore, the ego’s only way to develop more love. And because love is the emotion that manages anger, being honest about one’s anger is a way to both eliminate the patterns that attract anger and a way to accumulate more love within.
  • Love, too, has a vibration unlike anything else on this Planet. A person who has not experienced love does not know how to recognize love. This is a very difficult Planet to be on even if we do have sufficient love within. If we do not, it is constantly painful and despairing. The need for love is so great within someone who has not experienced love that that person is constantly needing, seeking, and guessing about where the love is. That person is constantly manipulating and adapting in an effort to find love. And yet, those tactics will work only with someone similarly engaged. Someone who has love within will recognize the empty shell – the shallowness – the desperation of someone trying to find love.Someone with love inside will find the Serially Unloved Adult too risky to be around. They will know this individual is incapable of integrity and truth… and since those are the conditions that produce love, the person with love within will know that love will not be expanded in the presence of the Unloved… that love will only be siphoned off under such conditions… and love is not attracted to such an arrangement.
  • Love is a Divine emotion. It IS the emotional connection to the Divine. Accordingly, love is here to expand love. Love is here to celebrate love. Love is here to co-create with love. Love is here to Be loving with others who are Being love.

These are the possibilities that are available by applying the principles of Transforming Anger Into Love™.

(c) Copyright 2006 Dianne Lancaster All Rights Reserved

Guidelines for Understanding and Managing Anger also available as a PDF download