Jeff Levy, LCSW
Mental Health, Relationships, Trauma, Identity
Jeff Levy, LCSW
(originally posted on Branching Out: The Live Oak Blog, April 2014)
I remember as an adult, when I would share with my mother frustration or anger I felt toward one or both of my brothers, her consistent response was: “Oh Jeff, life’s too short. Don’t be like that.” When I think about it now, I realize she told me that many times, from when I was a child even until several weeks before she died. It took a long time for me to learn that expressing anger was not only acceptable, but necessary. I was careful, though, not to let my mother in on this revelation.
Anger Is Seen As A Negative Emotion
For many of us, anger is not an easy emotion to experience, let alone express. We may have received implicit and explicit messages since we were children that it wasn’t acceptable to express anger. Conversely, we may have grown up in a home where anger felt almost palpable. We lived with anger every day. It might never have been discussed, but its remnants were visible on the faces and bodies of those we loved, or even on our own bodies. What complicated our experience of anger is that it was often denied or we were told very clearly not to discuss the anger we experienced outside of the confines of our home. Regardless of the extent to which we experienced anger, we are a culture that often pathologizes anger. We see it as a “negative” emotion and, consequently, it is sequestered, making it relatively inaccessible.
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