20 things Anger is 6 it isn’t

Anger is feared in our society. From an early-age children are taught that Anger is bad and they are taught to suppress it.

Children are rarely taught how to manage anger effectively. Consequently, many adults run from or push away an angry person instead of taking the time to calm the other person and respectfully seek to understand what the problem is.

An important thing to remember in this is that when confronted by an angry person, if you want to stay calm you will be able to. Anger is only contagious if you allow it to. But if you want to feel angry you will get angry at their behaviour. So managing a situation of anger is very possible.

When anger is approached that way, it is frequently permanently defused and a win win resolution is achieved for both you and the angry person.

What anger isn’t.

The following things are what anger is not:

• Aggression

• Bad

• To be avoided at all costs

• Frightening

• Negative

• Controllable (behaviour can often controlled but not emotion)

What anger is.

If anger isn’t something frightening, negative, bad, aggressive, controllable or to be avoided at all costs then what is it?

Anger is:

• Doubt,

• Guilt,

• Tiredness,

• Confusion,

• Fear,

• Frustration,

• Embarrassment,

• Due to being in pain,

• Feeling overwhelmed,

• Feeling rejected,

• Anxiety,

• Loneliness,

• Disconnection,

• Feeling threatened/unsafe,

• Jealousy,

• Grief,

• Unfairness,

• Helplessness,

• Disappointment,

• Stress.

Emotions are divided into two different types. The first is primary emotions. The second is secondary emotions. Secondary emotions arise from other emotions.

You have probably already guessed from the “anger is” list that anger is a secondary emotion. It arises from other emotions that happen.

If you look at the “anger is” list you will see that all these underlying emotions and feelings are ones that the brain perceives as danger. This activates the body’s defence mechanisms. Anger is part of the body’s defence mechanism of fight or flight. Anger gives the body the push it needs to run away or stand and fight.

(It is important to note that abuse is not anger. It is abuse and needs to be dealt with differently.)

Something to try

Here is something you can try.

Next time you find yourself starting to feel angry be curious. Examine that anger. Where has it come from? What thoughts are you having around that anger? Those thoughts will give you important clues to the source of the anger.

If you can’t identify the thoughts then ask the anger what it needs. The anger will want something, which may be to vent that anger so don’t ask it what it wants. The anger will be needing something, it may be to be understood, or to get out of a situation that feels overwhelming, or to be able to take time out for rest.

Would you like to know more?

If you go to PLC Blog – Plentiful Life Counselling Blog (https://plentifullifecounselling.com.au/wp)
And click on the category Anger (in the left hand column) you will see a number of blogs on the subject.

If anger is something that you fear and you feel you need help with it, then seeking help from a Registered Counsellor is a good idea.

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your anger, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

10 Myths About Anger

Just the word “anger” is enough to evoke fear in people. As a society we fear anger. As children we are taught to fear and avoid anger.

But every person will experience anger occasionally or frequently.

Anger is an emotion that serves an important purpose. This is because Anger is a secondary emotion that always has an underlying primary emotion.

You may be angry because you are afraid, frustrated, sad, or feeling threatened. There are many emotions that can underly anger.

Anger helps you to cope with the underlying emotions. It can help you to take action to protect yourself, to make a decision, to problem solve, to set goals you wish to achieve, to take action to remove threats from your life.

When might anger be a problem?

When the underlying emotions are ones caused by trauma anger can become problematic.

When others fear your anger and try to shut you down, this can escalate your anger and make the situation worse. Sadly this happens often because there is a lot of ignorance and fear around anger.

I watched a receptionist in a doctor surgery try to shut down a client who was calmly expressed his frustration at waiting an hour to see the doctor. Instead of acknowledging how frustrating it was for him, she ignored his words and changed the subject. Not surprisingly the man became angry. The receptionist then branded him as difficult and a problem instead of recognising her contribution to the situation.

This receptionist, like many people, was ignorant about anger and healthy communication.

The role of healthy communication in resolving anger

It is really distressing to see how people’s ignorance about anger and healthy communication causes so much trouble. This is something I am so passionate about that I am currently putting together an on line course on peaceful communication which addresses this issue.

In the interim, what are some of the myths around anger?

Myth 1 Anger is inherited.

That is only true in that we all have the capacity to express anger. It is innate to us as human beings.

We do learn how to approach anger from our parents and those around us growing up but we do not inherit “anger” from our parents.

Myth 2 Anger and aggression are the same thing.

This is one of the reasons people fear anger. Because they believe that anger is aggression. Anger is an emotion. You feel it.

Aggression is a behaviour. Sometimes we become aggressive because we are angry. But at other times we don’t. An angry person is just as likely to use healthy methods of expressing their anger without needing to become aggressive.

Research into aggression that results from anger suggests that there are three factors that cause aggressive anger. These factors are:

• Initiation events, where something has happened to set off anger. This can range from someone being rude to you, being cut off in traffic, or finding out your partner has been having an affair.

• Triggering event, where something impels you to become aggressive. It may be a release of hormones in response to a fight or flight response. It may be a belief that the behaviour you have been subjected too is really wrong and must be defended. It may also be that in our society expects us to react aggressively to the triggering event. An example of that is to hit someone back when they hit you.

• Inhibiting factors, where factors in your life reduce the likelihood of you behaving aggressively. This may be that aggression in this instance is socially unacceptable, or fear of negative consequence, or the opportunity to step away from the situation and take perspective.

Myth 3 Other People Make Me Angry

Other people can be irritating and difficult to ignore, but your behaviour is your responsibility. It is your choice how you are going to respond. Often, walking away from a situation to get some space and perspective is a good way to decide your response. And if you are still angry, that space can give you the opportunity to decide how you will respond to that person in a helpful way.

Myth 4 It is better to let anger out than hold it in.

Although it is true that suppressing anger and ignoring it is harmful, giving in to anger without any control is also harmful.

As I mentioned with Myth 3, it is often better to walk away to give yourself space to process your feelings and decide how you are going to respond to them.

When my youngest son was in Year 1, he had a mentally unwell teacher who decided to teach all the boys in the class to hit pillows when they felt angry. I was angry to learn this. Researchers have found that hitting something when angry sets the person up to react to anger by hitting something every time they are angry. Each time the person hits something the reaction of hitting is reinforced and leads to an expectation that hitting is an acceptable response to anger.

This unwell teacher was teaching the boys in the class unhealthy ways of dealing with anger.

In my anger, I sat down and researched this technique. Then, armed with the information, I made an appointment with the teacher and the principal and sat down and expressed my concerns about this teaching and showed my evidence of its harmful impacts. The result was that the teaching was terminated, the principal realised the teacher needed help and she took time off to attend to her mental health, and a new teacher taught the boys healthy ways to attend to anger.

Holding in anger is problematic but letting it out in an unregulated way is also problematic.

Learn to be curious about your anger. Learn to explore ways you can attend to the problem, if it needs attending to. Allow your anger to guide the way you attend to the problem in a healthy way.

Myth 5 I can get what I want and be respected by using anger, aggression and intimidation.

Although it is true that people, including adults, are frightened of bullies, this doesn’t mean they respect them. It also doesn’t mean you will get what you want by bullying others. Some people may fear a bully, but others will stand up to you. And if an adult uses aggression and intimidation with others they are more likely to face serious criminal charges.

The best way to earn the respect of others and get what you want is to be respectful of others. By communicating with others, which includes listening to them as well as telling them your needs, you are more likely to have an outcome you can be happy with. And you will also be more likely to experience healthy relationships with other people which will feel safer and more comfortable than always having to be alert to use aggression and intimidation.

Myth 6 Anger only affects certain “types” of people.

There are many who believe that people of certain ages, genders, socioeconomic status, education levels, nationalities or religious beliefs are the only ones who become angry. Of course in this belief aggression is seen as being the same thing as anger.

The truth is anger is experienced by everyone. It is an emotion and we all feel emotions.

Sometimes the stressors in your life can make you more likely to act out your anger, but there is no one group of people more likely to experience anger than others.

Myth 7 I can’t control my anger.

This can be a frightening belief.

It is true that sometimes people who have experienced trauma in their past can be triggered to react with behaviours that may include feeling the emotion of anger with sometimes an aggressive expression of that anger.

But it is possible to learn strategies to control the way that anger is expressed. In the short term these strategies can be employed. In the long term working with a counsellor to identify and treat those triggers will be really helpful.

Myth 8 I say what I really mean when I am angry.

Although it is true that when angry people can say things to others without filtering the words they use, it is not necessarily what they actually believe that is spoken. Uncontrolled angry outbursts are more about winning the argument and controlling the situation than speaking the truth. When people express their anger they are usually more likely to say things that are designed to hurt the other person.

Myth 9 It is healthy for me to speak my mind when I am angry.

There is a belief, and a very attractive belief, that if you are upset or angry about something you need to speak out about it. The belief states that if you don’t tell people at the time of the anger inducing incident you will dwell on it and become angrier later. Then you will say worse things than you might have at the time.

The trouble with that belief is that when you are feeling angry you are less likely to be perceiving the situation in a realistic way. You may perceive other people are behaving in uncaring or provocative ways when in fact they are not. You may perceive the words spoken to you as being worse than they might seem when you have calmed down and had a chance to reflect on them.

In myth 4 I related the story of my son being taught by his teacher to punch a pillow when he was angry. I related that I was angry when I learned about this. But what I did with that anger was to make a decision to approach this issue in a productive way. I wanted this faulty teaching to stop. I decided that a more effective way to stop this was to present my case with the teacher and principal. I could have decided to speak my mind, but it would not have led to as successful an outcome as me stepping back and waiting until I was more in control of my emotions.

How many times have you spoken your mind when angry then wished in a calmer moment that you hadn’t said those things?

Myth 10 Men are angry, women are much calmer.

That old myth about boys being made of slugs and snails and puppy dog tails and girls being made of sugar and spice and all things nice!

Everyone gets angry. Everyone expresses their anger.

Men are more likely to express their anger in a more aggressive, acting out way but this is more due to cultural conditioning.

Cultural conditioning has taught women that they must be more constrained. Women are more likely to make comments about things, talk negatively about the other person, or even cut off contact with them. When women do act out in a more aggressive way they are often sanctioned more heavily by society than men because they are behaving in a way that is seen as being culturally inappropriate.

To summarise

When people use the word angry they are often referring to the acting out of anger when people may yell, say hurtful things, become aggressive etc. That is a behaviour that may be exhibited when a person is angry. It is not the totality of anger.

Anger is an emotion that does not necessarily lead to any of those behaviours. Many people who feel angry may absent themselves from a situation and take steps to calm down and explore their anger and what they really want.

Why am I feeling angry?

Maybe you are feeling angry because:

• you felt ignored,

• your hurt or pain was ignored,

• the other person’s behaviour led you to feel you didn’t exist,

• you felt afraid,

• you felt frustrated,

• you were disappointed.

• And so on.

What can I do about my anger?

There are many things you can do. You can seek counselling. Another is to participate in a course on communication and conflict. Later this year I will be releasing a course in Peaceful Communication. If you would like to be notified when that is ready you can subscribe to my newsletter and other communications on http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your anger and its underlying causes, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

Hanging on to resentment is like cutting off your nose to spite your face

As a Reiki Master I have a daily practice to choose the way I wish to live. This practice is in line with the 5 Reiki Principles.

Number 1 on my list is the choice I make to “release my investment in staying hurt and angry”.

I have observed in my own life and that of others how destructive holding on to that investment in hurt and anger is. It destroys relationships. And it destroys the person holding on to the hurt and anger.

As a counsellor I see how destructive hurt and anger is to the mental health of those holding on to hold on and convert the hurt and anger into resentment.

Anger is not bad, what you do with it can be

Despite all the bad press, anger, when directed the right way, can be constructive.

Anger can be an important signal that there are things in your life you need to attend to. This is where anger is a signal that drives change.

Anger in itself is not wrong. It is the response to anger that can cause harm if it is not a helpful response.

Being frightened of anger is destructive if you run from anger

People are taught to be frightened of anger. When anger is experienced a person will often suppress the anger and flee from it, instead of sitting with it and attending to it.

The problem with suppressing anger is that unexpressed anger becomes resentment. Resentment tends to fester, below the level of conscious awareness, and poison our interactions with others.

The festering wound of resentment

Then resentment develops, the person you were angry with is turned into an evil person. You remember bad things about them and forget all the good things. So the person becomes more and more negative in your mind.

Bearing a grudge against another person is resentment.

Holding on to resentment doesn’t serve you. It can make you bitter and less trusting of others. In time it can destroy a lot of your relationships.

How to release your investment in staying hurt and angry

To let go of your resentment you need to revisit the original event that led to your anger converting to resentment. That is not always easy. When you go back to that original event, you are likely to realise the event was not as bad as you have come to picture it, and that the person you have branded as evil is not as evil as you have come to think of them.

One of the biggest issues with resentment is that you assign blame to the target of your resentment. Yet things are rarely that black and white. It is important to let go of the need to assign blame.

Resentment means you never let go of your hurt and anger

One of the problems with needing to assign blame is that your need to hold the other person responsible for your feelings is doing you great harm.

When you think you are managing to cope with your hurt but are resentful towards the other person you are actually holding on to your hurt and anger. To heal you need to let go of the hurt and anger. To do that, you need to let go of the resentment you feel towards others.

Own your responses

You need to own your response to what originally happened and stop blaming others for how you are feeling now.

What do you need now? Do you need the pain and damage to your mental health of holding on to the resentment? Or do you need to think of yourself and your needs and release the resentment that is harming you?

Releasing your resentment

Performing an activity to release your resentment is really helpful.

You may find it helpful to write your feelings down on a piece of paper and then burn the paper as you announce you are choosing to let go of those feelings.

You may wish to read out what you have written before declaring you intention to let go and burning the paper.

I have an old saucepan that I put paper in when burning it. I never leave the pan until the paper has burned up completely. That way I can be present in watching my feelings dissipate and also maintain safety around the burning paper.

Releasing resentment is about serving you

Resentment is tied to forgiveness. Letting go of resentment is forgiving. Forgiving is not about the other person. It is about you.

If you can find the compassion to release your investment in staying hurt and angry then you have achieved an important step in healing and wholeness.

The benefits of letting go

When you let go of your resentment you will find you are much happier. Life seems brighter and lighter. You have so much more energy to devote to you and your growth as a person. You are better able to focus on the things that matter to you.

When you are resentful, everything in life becomes something to judge. Once you let go of that resentment you will find you have the space to accept yourself and others. You will feel happier and experience more joy.

Releasing resentment and removing the barriers it has built between you and a fulfilling life, opens up your life to receive blessings.

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with releasing your resentment, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

The Myth of Passive Aggressive Behaviour

There is a lot of misinformation about behaviour and its causes in the general community.

This leads to many terrible things being done to people who should be given understanding.

One popular thing to accuse people of is being Passive Aggressive. The label is freely applied to people but there is extremely limited understanding of what passive aggressive behaviour actually is.

The source of the myth

This myth is not helped by the fact that there used to be a “personality disorder” listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This “disorder” labelled Passive Aggressive was dropped 20 years ago.

Despite this no longer being accepted as a disorder, the community persists in applying this label to people. People who exhibit this behaviour have had trauma in their pasts and need understanding, not misguided judgement.

What behaviour you may see in someone labelled as Passive Aggressive

• Often a perfectionist with very high standards of their own behaviour.

• Difficulty identifying what they want.

• Difficulty asking for help.

• Difficulty setting boundaries and saying no.

• Low Self Esteem.

• Sensitive to criticism.

• People pleaser who seeks to accommodate other people’s wants.

• Hates to disappoint people and can become very distressed when think they will.

• Frightened of taking initiative in relationships.

• Finds it hard to say no so will instead say yes but try to communicate no by hints or cancelling at last minute, often in great distress.

• Withdraws when someone is angry with them.

• Doesn’t make feelings, needs and wants known to others.

• Saying no leads to feelings of guilt and great anxiety that have upset other person and that they will be rejected for that.

• Expresses feelings through behaviour rather than words.

• Seek to avoid conflict at all costs.

• Taken advantage of by others.

• Feels like a victim.

• Often unaware of feelings. Can be angry and not aware of it.

• May resort to more subtle behaviours to communicate message such as being sarcastic or even fantasising about getting revenge.

• Often feels resentful.

• Can’t understand why others can’t see their needs. Desperately wants other to see them because it is not safe to express them.

• May sub consciously adopt “unhappy” behaviour as non verbal communication.

• Procrastination, inefficiency, stubborness and sullenness are some behaviours that may be used.

Dispelling the myth: what passive aggressive behaviour is actually about

When a child is unable to express their needs safely they will adopt other ways to communicate their needs. This is not a deliberate thing. It comes about because their brain seeks ways to communicate that are safe.

One way to do this is through non verbal communication.

So you may see “unhappy” behaviour, sullenness, procrastination as behaviours that communicate unhappiness. These are not adopted deliberately.

When it is not safe to express needs openly, then passive aggressive behaviours become a safer way to express those needs. That is why you will notice people dropping hints, or being reluctant to do what you ask, or looking sullen.

Have you been accused of passive aggressive behaviour?

When you have learned it is not safe to express your needs you will frequently feel you do not have the right to have needs. This is why you will struggle to set boundaries and say no.

You will also notice you seek to avoid conflict. But underneath you may feel great distress at the way things are happening.

Internally, you may find it hard to even acknowledge what you are feeling. You may feel you are judged by others for the way you feel. In fact, you are judged because of ignorance about your behaviour.

The pressure cooker of denied needs

You may have learned as a child to push down your feelings. In adulthood you continue to do this. Over time this pushing down creates a pressure cooker situation where your feelings will explode and you may express them in a number of ways. For example by being angry, or bursting into tears, or running away.

How to be less passive aggressive

Ultimately you need to be honest with youself about your feelings and learn to express them more assertively. It is important to be aware that not everyone will accept you being more assertive. When that happens the other person is acting out their own insecurities. This doesn’t make you wrong. But it will feel uncomfortable.

Be honest about your feelings.

Learn to express yourself. This will help prevent misunderstandings, hurt feelings and resentment.

Do you need help?

It is not easy to learn to feel safe expressing your needs. Healing the past and learning to let go of the protective behaviours that kept you safe, but no longer serve you, is hard.

It is particularly hard to do on your own.

This is where counselling can help.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you to learn how to effectively meet your needs please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

9 Ways in Which Children (and Adults) Display Anxiety

Unless you have studied child development, it is likely you will interpret your child’s behaviour according to the way you react to things.

But children’s brains have not yet developed enough to allow them to behave in adult ways.

Children have to learn to understand their feelings. This makes it hard for them to understand what they are feeling. If they can’t understand, they can’t tell you.

As a parent, you have a role in helping your child to understand their feelings and learn how to process them in a healthy way.

To do that, you need to be able to identify what is happening for your child.

This list is of ways in which children are know to display anxiety. Adults can display anxiety in the same way if they never learned as children how to understand their own feelings.

Here are 9 ways that children display anxiety:

  1. ANGER

Anxiety can be produced by the feeling of danger or feeling overwhelmed, which is perceived as danger. Danger triggers the fight or flight response. Part of that response is anger. To have the energy to fight or run from danger, your body produces anger. As adults we often react the same way to anxiety, so it is not surprising when your child reacts the same way.

When the fight or flight response is activated, the thinking part of the brain shuts down. This means your child will be angry but can’t tell you why. Later, when they are feeling less anxious they may be able to tell you. Remember, pushing them to tell you what is wrong will just make them more anxious.


Anxiety can cause worrying thoughts that will keep an adult from falling asleep, or if they wake up during the night, from falling back to sleep.

It is the same with children. If your child has difficulty falling asleep or wakes up and can’t get back to sleep, it would be a good idea to ask them if there is anything worrying them.


You may notice your child avoids completing a task, or going to a place or seeing a particular person.

Adults often do the same thing. Do you find you do this? If so, then you can understand how hard it is for your child to do the things or see the people and places that cause anxiety.

It is really important in a situation such as this to sit with your child and allow them to tell you what they are anxious about. Together you can work out a solution. It may be that your child just needs your to accompany them so they can feel safe. There are other solutions too.

It is important to remember that when children are told to do things that they feel anxious about, things their fight or flight response is saying are dangerous, that you don’t tell them they are being silly, or there is nothing to be worried about, and force them to do those things. Doing this teaches your child to ignore their intuition. Intuition is vital for their healthy functioning in life.


Is your child responding negatively to suggestions or outcomes. Are they saying their homework is horrible and will be marked wrong by the teacher? Are they expressing negativity around attending an activity? Negative thoughts are more often experienced when a person is anxious.


You ask your child to do something and they refuse. They may throw things, or yell and scream. They are not being “naughty”. Often it is because they are feeling anxious. Often if a child is asked to do something they feel unable to do, the anxiety they feel at not being able to do the task can be expressed as defiance. Again, it is unlikely your children, having activated their fight or flight mechanism, will be able to tell you what is wrong. Give them space and time to calm down. Sit with them in a non judgemental way and offer support and understanding. When they feel calmer, then they may be able to tell you what is wrong.

Alternately, sometimes defiance can be due to the anxiety of not being in control, which feels unsafe, and it is expressed in defiance as your child tries to get some control (and therefore safety) in the situation.


Adults do this too. Something minor happens and your child explodes with anger. This happens when hurt and anxious feelings are suppressed for quite some time. There is a limit to what can be suppressed. Eventually something will happen that will be too much to suppress and everything will come out. It may seem your child is overreacting, but if you allow them to calm down and you then ask them they will be able to tell you about what has been troubling them.


Your child is not paying attention to what you are telling them, to things that are happening around them, or to anyone or thing. If your child is anxious, those thoughts may be so overwhelming they aren’t noticing anything around them, including you asking them to do something.


Some children will express their anxiety by trying to micromanage everything. They overplan what should be simple. It is easy in this situation to get angry at their obsession with everything being done “properly”. But your child is most likely trying to calm their anxiety and unsafe feelings by controlling things.


Feelings are not just things we experience in our heads. We also experience feelings in our bodies. It is very common for anxiety to be felt in the abdomen. Adults experience this too. Children don’t know that these things they feel in their body are associated with the thoughts and emotions they experience. Your child may experience a tummy ache and not know it is part of anxiety. So the tummy ache is genuine.


You have noticed your child exhibiting one of the above behaviours and you have stopped and considered they may be anxious. Instead of reacting angrily or with frustration, you respond with understanding.

Now you want to understand what the problem is.

If you rush them to tell you what is happening, it is unlikely they will be able to tell you.

Sit with them. Be relaxed so they can sense your calm and not feel rushed. Maybe you can say: “You seem to be upset about something. Let’s sit for a while.”

When you observe your child seems calmer, you can try asking them what is happening for them. Listen. Let them talk. Don’t interrupt. Offer comfort and understanding. Acknowledge what they are feeling and how that is hard to feel that. It may be that telling you is all your child needs. But there may be a problem you can problem solve together.


Remember, adults exhibit the same behaviours and often can’t express what is happening until they are feeling calmer. We live in a society that punishes rather then understands anxious behaviours. Many adults have never had the opportunity to learn to understand their own feelings and change their responses to them.

Understanding for your child is vital, and also for adults.


Sometimes your child may need professional help to untangle the anxiety they are experiencing. And sometimes adults also need that help too.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you or your child with anxiety, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

When your anger is really grief

“I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her real name was grief” C.S.Lewis

I read this quote a long time ago. At the time it really resonated with me. I felt like that over the death of my mother. I had a family that didn’t communicate so I couldn’t talk to my family about it. My husband was sympathetic but he didn’t really understand it at the time. I most certainly was not going to talk to my children about it.

I thought I was going mad.


As a teenager I had read the Elizabeth Kubler Ross books about death and dying and the “stages” of grief. But what I was experiencing didn’t make sense in that formula people were using for grief.


What I didn’t know until I studied counselling was that many other theorists had come after her and their theories made a lot more sense of my experience.

It was many years before I went to a grief group and discovered that my feelings were normal.

Since then I have sat with many people grieving loss and seen their anger as well.

The difference is that now, I can reassure them that what they are feeling, although distressing for them and those around them, is completely normal.


People come to see me about anger and discover that anger is masking grief.

Children are particularly prone to anger as an expression of grief. There is not much understanding about how children grieve.


A child will be sad and then go off and play. An adult watching that may reassure themselves that the child is over it. But they aren’t. The grief is still there, they are just attending to the other needs of life.

The grief a child feels may surface months or years later, often as anger and disengagement with school. It takes a long time to process grief. Don’t think that because a child appears happy they are over the grief.


Adults can have similar experiences too.

It is worthwhile considering that your reactivity and swiftness to become angry is actually a reaction to grief. That the anger is trying to tell you to address something in you that is unresolved.


Grief that is not acknowledged or is suppressed often becomes anger because while you are suppressing your grief your brain and body feels abandoned and ignored. Your brain builds narratives that are not correct and develops assumptions about things. This creates a conflict in your mind and often results in anger.


This reminds me of an exercise I often use with people who come to me for grief counselling. I also use it with people who come to me experiencing anger.

The exercise is based on the concept that strong emotions are signals to you about things you need to deal with.

In order to deal with those things, you need to be able to listen to your emotions.

My exercise is around centring with some focused breathing and preferably eyes closed.

Once you are centred, ask the feeling who it is. What does it want? What does it want you to know?

I then ask you to draw that feeling. On the drawing write down things the feeling has said. Who it is, what it wants and what it wants you to know.

Interestingly, I have never had anyone find that this emotion wishes them harm. It is always that it is there to help and it has wisdom to impart.

I have had angry people surprised at discovering the feeling is grief and that it wants to help them.

I have also had grieving people surprised to discover that grief loves and cares for them and wants to guide them through this time. Not the way many people see grief.


Learn to sit with your feelings. If it helps, ask them who they are, what they want and that they want you to know. Then draw them and write down their words. You may be surprised and reassured at what you find.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief or emotions you are experiencing, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz