What does anger have to do with your boundaries?

Anger carries important messages about your external environment and your internal state.
A boundary is your personal space, both emotional and physical. It’s tells you what is right and what isn’t, when to say yes and when to say no. When we have good boundaries we are able to protect ourselves by making choices that are congruent with our needs and values. When we don’t have strong boundaries we buckle under the inappropriate pressure by others, don’t take a stand for ourselves and engage in people pleasing. We withdraw from the world and endure repeated boundary violations.
For example, if your boss has treated you unfairly, you will feel angry. The anger is a response to the unfairness. If you suppress the emotion by saying, ‘No, I shouldn’t be angry’, then you’re not taking the message in the anger. The anger is asking you to take a stand on the situation, probably speak to your boss about it and present your side of the story in a calm and assertive manner. On one hand by suppressing the anger, you are missing out on the healthy messages that the anger carries for you. You might experience fear the next time someone is unfair towards you and withdraw. Over time this will become your coping mechanism and you will end up feeling guilty and victimized. On the other hand, if you act on it impulsively and lash out at your boss, you run the risk of losing your job. Instead, if you sit with the anger and understand the message in it, you will be taking a well thought of course of action.
Anger helps in upholding our boundaries. I have seen that if we don’t enforce our boundaries with people who are responsible for transgressing our boundaries, we end up hurting others who aren’t responsible. We can hurt people with our anger who shouldn’t be the ones on the receiving end. For example, you might suppress the anger when your boss fired you and then act out of frustration towards a friend or a loved one.
Instead if you enforce your boundaries with the people responsible for hurting you, then you don’t end up misdirecting your anger.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Be conscious of your emotions as and when they come up.
  2. Instead of suppressing, acknowledge them.
  3. Sit with your emotions and breathe for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Understand why the emotion has come up and that it has come up for a reason.
  5. Acknowledge the reason.
  6. When anger arises, acknowledge the message in it.
  7. At the first sign of boundary crossing, address the situation/person as soon as possible.
  8. Be mindful of what’s an appropriate and inappropriate demand from another person.
  9. Don’t carry the anger to other situations or people. Be conscious of  addressing it with the people concerned.
  10. If you don’t know how to address the situation, sit and tap for a while. Once you feel calmer, you will know how to respond.

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Turn Away: A simple technique to diffuse stressful situations

Sometimes you just need a break from stressful and challenging situations. You need to create an emotional/energetic distance between yourself and a lingering image/sound/feel of a situation. This simple technique with an addition of tapping helps you create that space – separation – and hence diffuse such situations. It can provide a much needed respite, and many a times also help to let go of stubborn situations.


Reference: Thriving in Chaos, Sandy Dow


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