The Montfort Group

Vulnerability And Anger: How The Two Collide

I want you to close your eyes. I want you to take a moment and think about the last time you were angry. What was going on? Who were you angry with? Where did you feel that anger physically? Maybe in your chest, neck, or back. Maybe in your shoulders. I presume you could describe the physical feeling as tense and unpleasant. Why does this happen?

Who has the power to make us the angriest? When I consider the times I’ve been the most upset, I see my mom, I see my dad, significant others, and my closest friends. The people in my arena, the ones fighting for me and with me, the ones who are cheering me on from the sidelines that we call life. Why is it that these people have the most power over my emotions and the ability to create such uncomfortable feelings? It’s relatively simple. It’s because I care.  

I so often hear teens in my office make statements such as “I don’t care” usually followed up by something along the lines of, “I hate them.”

Here’s the thing. Being angry is exhausting. It’s consuming. If I didn’t care, my body wouldn’t feel this way right now.

Have you heard the song “Love Me or Hate Me” by Lady Sovereign? Lyric reminder: “Love me or hate me; it’s still an obsession.” She’s right. Hating someone absorbs so. much. energy. It’s draining.

Pause. Go back to the last time you felt angry. What was underneath that anger? Dig deep–especially if you were really mad. Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond that feeling, but the truth is, anger is a secondary emotion. What lies underneath is some variation of hurt. Were you scared? Sad?

Society has led us to believe that presenting anger is more socially acceptable than showing that you’re hurt. Why? Who came up with that idea? I think back to anytime I’ve been angry and acted on those emotions (whether it was verbally snapping back, screaming, or worse, the silent treatment). How did I feel after? Usually guilty or regretful. Maybe even embarrassed and apologetic.

Part of this comes with age. The ability to emotionally regulate before responding. To my parents out there–please remember this. Developmentally, your kid is less inclined to hold back their snarky remarks or what can be often perceived as attitude. It is difficult for them to leave the momentary feelings and see beyond it.

Being vulnerable is hard. I encourage you to consider your intentions behind responding, especially when feeling angry. Give yourself a moment. Breathe. What am I actually feeling right this second? After circling the sun a mere 26 times, I finally learned that being vulnerable gets me further than being angry. I don’t regret what I say to my people, nor do I feel embarrassed.

Try it.

Courtney Strull, MS, LPC

Courtney Strull, MS, LPC

I attended The University of Texas in Austin where I majored in Psychology and minored in Sociology. During my undergraduate coursework, I did research under Dr. Rebecca Bigler, where I studied gender and racial attitudes among children. Upon competition of my undergraduate degree, I moved to Dallas to attend Southern Methodist University’s Master of Science in Counseling program and completed all the training to become a Licensed Professional Counselor.

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