Why It’s Ok To Tell People To F*** Off

Are you being true to yourself, even when it means getting a little strong-worded with an over-stepping loved one? As a child, when it came to expressing my anger I was told I was too rough, too mean, too loud, too demanding, or too angry. “Lower your voice!” was the immediate response to a raised temper in our household, followed by a sharp, “What is the matter with you?!” – As if there was something wrong with you for feeling angry.

In my twenties, these negative labels really started to bother me. I didn’t want to be perceived as a ruthless, angry woman. I wanted my family to see me as the kind and loving person I knew myself to be deep inside, and so I began to figuratively bite my tongue. I started to hide my anger, mistaking it as a negative behaviour that needed correcting instead of identifying it as a healthy emotion that deserves the appropriate outlet.

I learned to be compassionate and kind to others when they made mistakes or did things that disappointed me – and yes, these are great character traits to have in one’s tool box, but I began mistaking my repression of anger for compassion and kindness in situations where a “strong talking to” with a loved one would have done me right.

I recently learned that holding in anger causes me tremendous physical and emotional exhaustion, and until this week, I had never connected my chronic fatigue with repressed, justified anger.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll repress your feelings when triggered by a loved one only to blow up at them, (or yourself, a pet, etc.) later (or worse – not at all). Feeling angry is often followed by gut-wrenching guilt or shame, and a promise to yourself that you’ll exercise more control the next time (usually by repressing your feelings even harder). “You’re better than that!” you’ll say. “You should know better then to let this bother you!”

But the other day something weird happened: I told off a loved one – and it felt fucking great.

Many teachers have tried to talk to me about healthy anger, or as I like to call it, The Emotional Unicorn (ie – non-existant). “There’s no way my anger is healthy,” I’ve told healer after healer. “If I let it out I will literally murder someone. Do you want me to murder someone?!”

So here I was, in the middle of a conversation with someone very close to me, (who has been known to tuck all of her stress into an Annapurna-sized backpack and fit it right atop my shoulders), when – right on cue, she crossed a boundary.

Instead of my usual grimace-and-bear-it attitude, I expressed my lack of appreciation and I asked her to back off. This is not something I do with ease.

Of course, being used to my typical behaviour of accepting all that she’s dishing, my loved one kept on boundary-breaking until several gentle attempts later, my gloves came off and I let her have it. I didn’t attack, accuse, or insult – but I did angrily let her know that her behaviour was no longer being tolerated. I didn’t try to stay focused or exercise my “spiritual tools” to see things from her way in order to avoid confrontation (I used to think this was “effective communication”). I let her know – point blank – that her actions weren’t working for me and I wasn’t going to have it any longer. In other words, I stuck up for myself. I exercised healthy anger.

Normally after any type of anger I feel tremendously guilty, but on this strange day I felt amazing. I finally understood (at least, fractionally,) healthy anger. I realized that just because my voice was loud and my words were firm does not mean that I was being a bad person who had just expressed a violent emotion. I was angry, and I expressed it without intending to hurt or belittle my loved one. I used the anger responsibly to defend myself when all other attempts were being ignored, and that is actually totally okay.

This was a first for me, and to my surprise, I felt energized for the first time in months. (Before this confrontation I had been jumping from practitioner to practitioner to find out what could be draining my energy. I’m a holistic nutritionist and I’ve cured my own adrenal fatigue once before, but nothing I did then seemed to be working this time around. After this surprising expression of authenticity, I feel a sustained energy-richness).

While I’m brand-new to the magic of Healthy Anger, I’ve got some general tips for the repressors and the guilt-trippers out there. Here are five points of awareness you need to know in order to begin practicing a healthy expression of anger. I think these are important to consider before lashing out at your next family gathering, or swallowing the passive aggressive insults your in-laws toss you at the next holiday celebration.

HEALTHY ANGER…



1. FIRMLY ADDRESSES AN IMPORTANT SITUATION HEAD-ON WITH A STRONG AWARENESS OF YOURSELF

The Self I’m talking about here is your soul, or the Higher Self in each of us that has our own and everyone else’s best interests at heart. This is the part of you underneath or beyond all the emotional fog, bias, and projection. When you create Self-awareness you instinctively know when anger is appropriate or when alternative modes of expression and communication are needed.

2. IS NOT USED TO ATTACK ANOTHER

Often times people think that being angry is an excuse to go all out on a person. It’s not. We all know, at least deep down, that attacking another isn’t nice. If we express anger for this purpose we facilitate a cycle of guilt and denial. Guilt can lead to shame, and without the right spiritual work, shame leads to denial, which gives rise to more anger. Anger instead should be used as a defence, not an offence.

3. IS NOT USED TO “WIN” A FIGHT

If your intention in an outburst is to use your anger-potential to win an argument, you’ve not yet developed an awareness for healthy anger, and worse, you’re not being true to your real needs because you are operating from the ego. Anger is a tool that allows you to be heard (or to hear yourself!) in a pressing situation. If you’re using anger to win an argument, you’ve got other emotions that require expression but are most likely being repressed by defence mechanisms. Take a moment when you’ve got time alone and let yourself mull this over. What could really be provoking your need to win? Usually this connects to a feeling of being “not enough” (good enough, man enough, pretty enough, smart enough, and so on). If this is the case for you, you might want to use the situation to express your need to be appreciated more. Or maybe it’s a symptom for which the solution is self-nourishment, self-love, or self-acceptance (the act of not judging your “enoughness”).

4. DOESN’T INSULT, BELITTLE, BLAME, OR TAUNT

Again, because anger is not effective when made offensive, there shouldn’t be a need to put the other person down. Anger is the body’s way of tapping us on the shoulder to say, “Hey, something’s going on that is genuinely not okay with me and we need to put a stop to it. We are being violated (by ourselves or another person).” This should elicit an internal reflection, but if you’re jumping to attack then you’ve gone from introspection to deflection, and you’re using the other person as your emotional punching bag. Instead, take a few breaths and ask yourself why you feel So-and-So is a “dirty piece of ****!” (or whatever else you were about to scream at them), and allow yourself to find the root cause of your anger. The process might look like this:

“Bob is such a dirty piece of ****!” “Bob is such a dirty piece of **** because….!” (Here you might say, “because he’s mad at me for not having my presentation done by the deadline) From here, you could venture inward:

“I’m pissed that Bob is mad at me for not having this presentation in on time.”

“I’m pissed that Bob is mad at me for not having this presentation in because…” (because it makes me feel like he doesn’t trust that I know what I’m doing // because it makes me feel like he isn’t compassionate for my current circumstance // because he’s touched on a soft spot (ego/self defence) and I hate that I’m always running late)
With this information, you can formulate your need. It would look like this:

“I’m mad because I don’t feel trusted” (The need for trust/respect. In an argument with your boss, it might sound like this: “I understand that I didn’t complete the presentation by the deadline but I need you to trust that I know what I’m doing!” – Much better than calling your boss a name!)

“I feel upset because I need more compassion for my circumstance” (The need for compassion: “Damnit, you know I’m going through a lot, and I’m sorry that the presentation is late, but I need you to give me a break here! I will make up for this and I need you to trust that!”) or even

“Bob called me out for being late and I’m so mad at myself for not correcting this behaviour responsibly before it became noticed by others.” (The need for self improvement, or more importantly, self forgiveness. “I need to work on my punctuality, and I’ll leave Bob out of this one, even though it hurts that he noticed my slip up. I’m going to forgive myself  but make a conscious effort to be more punctual next time, because I’m worth it.”)

Of course, I’m over-simplifying the dialogue, but you get the process. Once you bring your awareness within you can turn a heated situation, (one in which you’d normally turn to insults and humiliation), into something more constructive.  You can express your need effectively, and you’ll have used anger as a healthy tool that helps you do so.

5. IS DONE WITH A FOCUS ON THE SELF, AND NOT A FOCUS ON THE OTHER PERSON

This one’s a summary of all of the above. It’s about intention. When you’re focusing on your Self, you don’t get angry because you think, “So-and-So is such an asshole.” You take accountability for your own being and you use your anger accordingly. You get angry because you think, “I do not accept this, and I need for my boundaries to be taken seriously on the matter, period.”

So that’s it, folks! I know anger is not the easiest journey for some because confrontation is something that gives people thebookaflights, (ie book a flight the F out of here), but I promise that the key to healing for many people (myself included) is learning how to healthfully express our emotions.

Leave a comment below if you’ve got any advice on healthy expression. And feel free to comment with your own personal story, or posanonymouslyly if you’ve got a rant you need to get off your chest!