This is a follow up book from my earlier review of The Nice Girl Syndrome also by Beverly Engel. I liked Engel’s writing style and was intrigued by the idea that my self criticism, anxiety, tears, and overeating could all be caused by repressed anger. This book is an expansion on what the destructive nature of passivity and lack of assertiveness can do on your mental health.
Many of us fear anger. We have seen what explosive anger can be like and seek to never do that ourselves. Unfortunately, we replace one poor anger coping mechanism with another one by burying the emotion. We find ourselves frequently upset and having unsatisfactory interactions with other people. By avoiding one poor behavior, we stumble into a whole new set of hidden ones.
Engel asserts that anger in itself is not a bad emotion. At its basic level, it is merely our mind’s way of alerting us that some boundary has been crossed. What we do with that anger is where the problem arises. When properly dealt with, anger goes away quickly and is replaced by a more productive emotion. When dealt with poorly, it can fester.
What I like about this book, is that it recognizes the various ways we deal with anger. The author teaches us to recognize the clues showing what anger style we prefer from completely aggressive to completely passive. She also recognizes that sometimes we flip to another style. Some people are passive at work but aggressive at home or aggressive with most people and passive with one specific person.
She gives specialized advice to each anger type, giving an almost personalized approach to dealing with anger. I also liked reading the chapters that didn’t apply to me because they helped me understand other people in my life.
This books was a breath of fresh air. I had developed the habit of internalizing unfair criticism and assuming that something must be fundamentally wrong with me. The book showed me I was refusing to accept I was angry over the criticism and chose self destruction as the way to cope with my emotions.
My unexplained tears, my horrible anxiety, and my feelings of worthlessness become understandable. I had an anger problem. What I needed to learn was that I am allowed to be angry. Being angry doesn’t make me less of a person. I am angry because I’m a person.
I know there are many books available on anger, but I would definitely recommend starting with this one if you are upset in your life and don’t understand why. It is well written, easy to understand, and infused with many personal stories to let you know that you are not alone.