is a "Healthy Anger Policy"?
Recall why you're reading this article. Then take a
moment to review your definitions of (a) personal
and (b) a healthy relationship.
Then say your definition of a "policy" out loud. Then compare your
definitions to these ideas...
A "policy" is a set of
values and beliefs that shape people's behaviors and relationships.
Policies include "rules" and consequences -
shoulds, musts, have to's, ought to's, and cant's. These rules may be inherited
from ancestors, teachers, mentors, mates, and
hero/ines, and/or they may evolve from personal life experience ("Never swear at
Most adults (like you?) and all kids are
of their anger
and frustration policies, yet they (you) act on them
all the time - perhaps in spite of painful results.
A healthy anger policy
is a set of values,
attitudes, and beliefs about
feeling, expressing, and reacting to anger. It consistently promotes self-respect + effective communications
+ filling current
with other people.
Any aware adult or older child can identify an
unhealthy anger policy and improve it. Do you agree?
Committing to evolve and live by a healthy anger
policy requires taking full responsibility for how you
behave. It's also a sign of responsible parenting. Did your childhood caregivers do this for you?
Symptoms of a Healthy Anger Policy
How can you tell if your personal anger policy is
effective ("healthy") enough? See if your true Self (capital "S") is
and then see if these statements apply to you.
= "I agree;" D = "I disagree," and ? = "I'm not sure" or "It
depends (on what?)."
I (a) see anger and frustration as normal, useful emotions, and
(b) I fully accept my responsibility to express them respectfully and constructively;
(A D ?)
I seldom feel significant anxiety, guilt, shame,
or regret after expressing hurt, anger, needs, or frustration; (A D ?)
I'm usually not hesitant or
ambivalent about expressing hurt, anger, needs, or frustration with other people in most situations;
(Caution - this may also be a false self at work); (A D ?)
I rarely express anger or frustration impulsively and/or swear, raise my voice, label (insult) other people, threaten
or scorn them, cut
them off, and/or act violently; (A D ?)
I (a) know how to identify why I feel
hurt and anger, and (b) how to describe that clearly (e.g. with a respectful
without blame, when I need to. (A D ?)
I'm fully able to feel and express my
current feelings as they happen, rather than intellectually describe or
explain (justify) them now or later; (A D ?)
Other people seldom or never complain directly
or indirectly about the way I express anger,
and frustration - in general, or at them; (A D ?)
I don't need to use chemicals like alcohol or
help express (vent) my current anger and/or frustration; (A D ?)
usually comfortable enough around angry and frustrated people, unless I feel (a)
disrespected and/or unsafe around them (A D ?); and...
I feel that...
kids have the right to feel and
express anger and frustration (and other emotions) just as much as adults do, and...
patient, empathic adult guidance on
to (a) understand and (b) express these useful
(A D ?)
reflect - would you edit or add to these symptoms of a healthy anger policy? Do
these symptoms describe your current personal and family anger policies?
Would other family members and supporters agree?
about Anger and Frustration
Policies exist is to provide people with guidelines for personal and
social conduct and to promote social order and harmony. Group members always form unconscious individual and collective policies on
important relationship dynamics. Do you agree?
These policies are often semi-conscious and unspoken, and shape personal and family behavioral rules and rituals. The best case
occurs when group leaders intentionally define key group policies and discuss them thoroly with group members for understanding.
families often don't do this, and/or have
policies that cause confusion, anxiety, resentment, and conflicts in and among other members.
Every family has unique values, priorities, and goals - and policies. Use the
following example as an illustration for negotiating your own
personal and family policies on feeling and expressing hurt, anger,
frustration constructively. Imagine having a policy like this on paper,
discussed in family meetings, and referred to in resolving major problems.
Note - a family
is a valuable related resource.
Does your family have one yet?
Sample Family Anger Policy
We are a unique, valuable, growing family dedicated to
helping each other and other people fill key needs well in a changing
world. One way we do this is to live by these guidelines on handling
anger and frustration.
believe that all emotions are normal, healthy reactions to changes in our
bodies and our environment. Emotions indicate unfilled
useful, rather than good or bad.
We will help each
other distinguish between feeling our emotions and expressing
them. Feeling is usually spontaneous and beyond our control. It
is healthier than numbing, repressing, denying, and projecting our
feelings on someone else.
We will help each
other remember that healthy emotions in infants, kids, and adults
include neediness, frustration, hurt, and anger, which range
from minor to major.
believe that frustration occurs when a person can't find a way to
fill one or more current needs - i.e. they cannot reduce current discomforts.
Because physical, emotional, and spiritual
discomforts are inevitable, so is frustration - so
there is nothing bad
or wrong with feeling frustrated.
various degrees of anger usually follow feeling hurt
or scared by
someone's perceived attitudes and/or behaviors. Hurt usually comes from
feeling ignored, disrespected, used, betrayed, and/or abandoned by someone else.
We want to help each other remember
that the keys to expressing and using anger and frustration to
get our needs met are (a) keeping our
(b) learning to use seven effective-communication
These keys include learning to...
be clear on - and respect - every child
and adult's personal
rights, as dignified, worthy people;
that's causing our anger and frustration;
our needs to the
learn what they need, without
judgment; and value their needs equally with our own except in
and we're learning to...
as teammates to get our respective needs met well enough, and to...
give each other respectful
feedback when any of us strays
from these guidelines.
will encourage each other to react to others' anger and frustration
validating the other person's right to
feel what they feel;
to invite the other person's
to fall "below their ears";
if appropriate, ask the other person
whether they're angry or frustrated, or both. If they're angry, ask
if something has hurt them. If they're frustrated, ask what need/s
they can't fill now;
the other person if
the way they're expressing their feelings is offensive and/or
harmful; and to...
our current needs, feelings, and boundaries respectfully, as
Pause, breathe, and notice what you're thinking and feeling. How does this
sample policy compare with your family's current attitudes and beliefs about
feeling and expressing anger and frustration? Have your family members ever
discussed your policy and how it affects everyone?
Would they agree that
your policy is healthy and constructive? Have your family leaders evolved
this policy themselves, or accepted it from someone else like their parents
and ancestors or a Holy book?
Consider these options for using your emotions to improve your life and relationships, and
to help others do the same...
most impactful choice you can make to evolve a healthy anger and
frustration policy is to
study and apply (at least)
1 will show you how to work with your
personality subselves to form healthy rule-sets (policies); and...
Discuss the difference between
anger and frustration (and/or this article) with your family members, and help each other learn to
identify which is which ("Are you hurt and angry now, or feeling unable to fill
Summarize the key verbal and nonverbal
rules about feeling and expressing anger and frustration in each adult who
raised you, and in any hero/ines or mentors that shaped your
early life. Remind yourself that you can affirm, edit, or
replace each of their rules to fit your personality and beliefs without
guilt, shame, or anxiety. These people probably
never read anything like this article.
to see anger-energy and frustration-energy as potentially useful for
identifying and filling current needs. The traditional alternative is to see
anger as something to be avoided, criticized, and ashamed of. Wrong!
More action-options about using anger and frustration constructively...
Explain and discuss the concept of anger
and frustration policies with others in your family. Then ask them - including any
kids - to help each other evolve common definitions of how to use anger and frustration
constructively in your relationships and homes. Option -
enjoy affirming each other when any of you are able to do that! ("I
admire the way you expressed your needs and frustration just now. Way
Offer each other constructive feedback on...
how each of you now
expresses hurt, anger,
needs, and frustration,
and how that affects your family; and...
whether someone needs to change something about their way of
expressing any of these.
Include feedback about anyone not
expressing - i.e. "stuffing," muting, minimizing, or repressing these
emotions. These often indicate significant psychological
low-nurturance (dysfunctional) environment.
Explore whether each
family member feels safe to honestly express current
hurt, anger, needs, and
frustration in your homes and relationships. If not, help each other decide what
would have to change to make it safer - without blame.
Common causes of "unsafety" are disrespect, criticism, boredom
(disinterest), anxiety, misunderstanding (not listening, and/or reality
distortion), lecturing, and/or moralizing.
Each of these is usually caused by psychological wounds +
each other learn to keep centered in the face of someone else's anger
and/or frustration - specially wounded kids. Four ways to do this are...
keep your Self (capital "S")
choosing genuine attitudes of respect and
compassion, vs. blame, indifference, or scorn;
helping each other evolve and live by an authentic
Bill of Personal Rights, and...
learning to use effective communication
Raise your self-awareness by discovering the policy on anger and
frustration that's been governing relations among your dedicated personality
subselves. Are these policies
Consider using options like these to
enhance your family policy on
feeling and expressing sadness
(can you say it out loud now?) Sadness and anger are vital phases in
the emotional level of
healthy grief. Can
you describe your family's current
Is it wholistically healthy or toxic? Would other family members agree? And
Consider using these ideas about
and frustration policies to
help others avoid major stress!
Pause, breathe, and reflect - which of these options are you drawn to now,
and who is choosing it - your true Self or "someone else."?