My sister and I recently had a discussion about anger, and I told her that I sincerely believe that feeling anger is A-okay. It’s a normal human emotion. I also feel that acting on it is okay IF you do it in a managed sort of way. Hitting people, throwing things, having hissy fits, and hurling belittling insults is not a managed sort of way. In fact, I feel assured that having temper tantrums will lose friends and respect…not to mention jobs and perhaps your family.

The key is to express your anger in a way that gets your point across without losing your cool. I don’t have any pat formulas for doing this correctly, but I try to follow Stephen Covey’s advice to keep the courage/consideration balance. You have to have enough courage to speak up for yourself and get your point/anger/hurt/disappointment across, but at the same time you have to have consideration for the other person’s feeling. It’s tough. Just when you want to shake someone or give him (or her) a good tongue lashing, you have to pull back a little. At the same time, if you hold back too much, the other party might not even know you’re annoyed or angry and therefore keep doing whatever he was doing that perturbs you so much.

As Ann and I were talking, I mentioned a quote by Aristotle about anger, but I couldn’t remember it all at the time. I’ve since looked it up: “Anyone can become angry. That is easy; but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everyone’s power. That is not easy.”

A cardinal rule of behavioral psychology is that you teach people how to treat you. Consequently, you owe it to yourself and to others to let them know when they’ve crossed the line. How else will they know? If you’re being taken advantage of, talked down to, or used, get angry enough to take up for yourself. NOW.

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