Anger can be defined as anything within a certain range of emotions–-anything from slight annoyance to rage.
Anger Is Never Alone
Anger is a cover for deeper emotions. Anger arises when deeper, more painful emotions exist beneath it—ones we really want to avoid and keep suppressed—usually fear and grief.
Where there is anger, there is an emotional addiction not being met. Where there is an emotional addiction not being met, there are expectations and demands not being met.
Some Examples of Emotional Addictions
- Needing approval for who you are, how you live, the decisions you make
- Needing praise for the things you do
- Need for comforting when things don’t go how you want them to
- Needing to be indulged in beliefs, opinions, desires
- Needing to be coddled, cared for, pandered to
- Needing compliments or “Happy Birthday”s
Expectations and Demands
Expectations go hand-in-hand with demands. Where there are expectations, there are demands. Where there are no expectations, there are are no demands.
For example, when you expect to receive praise for “a job well done”, you are simultaneously setting up a demand to be praised. When that demand isn’t met, what happens? Disappointment, annoyance, resentment…all forms of anger. If you don’t expect praise for your work, you don’t demand praise. If you have no demands, there is nothing to get angry for when you don’t receive praise.
Same thing with birthdays and holidays. How would you feel if on your birthday no one said “Happy Birthday” to you? If you received no cards, presents, cake, decorations or surprises? What if you got treated no differently on that day than any other ordinary, uneventful day? For most people, the unpleasant feelings involved would include at least disappointment and resentment. But if you didn’t expect special treatment on that day, you wouldn’t have any demands about it. Where there is no demand, there is no anger. You would be content whether anyone acknowledges your birthday or not.
Two More Accomplices
When our expectations and demands aren’t met and the inevitable anger rears up, we usually blame the other person for our anger and feel justified in doing so.
We blame others for how we feel because we don’t want to take responsibility for our own feelings—the feelings beneath the anger.
We justify the anger and the blame by thinking that if other people would just meet our demands, then everything would be ok.
But we don’t think of it in terms of meeting our demands. Rather, we prefer to think in euphemisms like “if they would just be decent” or “nice” or “reasonable” or “cooperative”.
We often even define it as “love” when other people meet our demands. But that is not actually love, it’s either a bartering system (“if you indulge my emotional addictions, I’ll indulge yours”) or a response to emotional blackmail (”you better do as I expect or I’ll be angry with you”).
Emotionally speaking, no one is obligated to do anything for us!
Regardless of what anyone does do for us, it will not heal those deep-seated, suppressed emotions that we are trying to avoid.
We keep creating new problems because we are using (and even abusing) other people in an attempt to cope with an emotional issue that has nothing to do with them. It’s our own issue, not theirs.
Each of us must realize at some point, “I’m the only one who can face, resolve and heal my own emotional issues.” It will never happen through emotional co-dependent behavior.
Our emotional issues will continue to plague our lives until we do some work to resolve them. No one else can do this work for us. A wise person may be able to point us in the right direction, but they can’t take us there. A therapist might be able to help us become aware of what our emotional issues are, but that can also happen through open and honest self-reflection, a desire to know the truth and a willingness to be humble. It is no one else’s responsibility to deal with our emotional issues in any way!
The state of happiness and peace that most of us are searching and striving for is only possible when all expectations and demands are released, not met.
Anger Is Not The Answer
Continually getting annoyed, angry, resentful and disappointed at those around us will never help our emotional condition. The more we justify anger and blame, the worse our emotional condition becomes.
Once we are willing to see what we are doing and take full responsibility for our own feelings, our emotional addictions will fall away. When the addictions are gone, it becomes easy to release expectations and demands. If no expectations and demands exist, there is nothing left to justify and no one to blame.
That is when love becomes possible.
Featured Image: A fallen leaf in the Seattle area in October, taken by Brenda Kay Forest (Hoffman)