FALSE: Anger is a punishment

I’ve been seeing a quote float around the IG, pop-inspiration pages characterizing anger as a punishment and it is frustrating to see this spiritual bullshit. Not just because it is completely inaccurate and downright awful. But because it is misleading and misguiding people who, most likely, genuinely want to spiritually grow.

The quote:

“Anger is a punishment you give yourself for someone else’s bad behavior, mistake or character flaw.”

– Unknown

Note: It is not clear who is the author of this quote. This quote has been attributed to several different authors and is sometimes listed as being by “Unknown”. If the author would like credit for this monstrosity of spiritual bullshit they are more than welcome to contact me and I will give them the proper credit for this epic fucking fail.

While I am sure the person who created this quote had genuinely kind intentions – they missed the mark. Quotes like these are wide spread in the self-help community, but they do not send the right message, and anyone following the ideology behind the quote is not going to find the emotional intelligence and happiness they most likely seek.

đźš© Red Flag

Any “thing”… quote, saying, person, etc., anything that invalidates a human emotion has no place, anywhere. This quote invalidates natural, human emotions – it needs to go.

âś… Clarification

Anger is NOT a punishment. There is no room for discussion here. Anger is an emotion. Our emotions tell us things. They let us know “hey, that’s not right,” or “something is up.” If we consider them to be a punishment we are essentially considering our natural being to be a punishment. Doing that is creating a breeding ground for depression and anxiety – no thanks!

Emotions are a natural part of the human experience. Emotions are not punishments. When we accept our emotions we learn to understand them and the “why” behind why we feel them. After we accept our emotions we will be able to handle our emotions in the most effective way, and not allow them to overtake our mood. The more we effectively control emotions, like anger, the less we will feel them.

When feeling angry the best things to do is to acknowledge that anger is a very real emotion and that everyone has experienced it. Yes, even Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama have experienced anger at one point in their lives. There is nothing wrong with you if you feel angry. It is important to differentiate between feeling an emotion and acting upon it. Just because you feel angry does not mean you need to act aggressively.

I am going to finish with a quote about anger that is legitimate and insightful. I found it in a book I highly recommend, called “Mind Over Mood.” The book was written by two psychologists who have helped countless people work through anxiety and depression with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:

Anger is linked to a perception of threat, damage, or hurt, and to a belief that important rules have been violated. We also can become angry if we think we have been treated unfairly or prevented from obtaining something we expected to achieve. It is not simply the hurt or damage that makes us angry, but the violation of our rules and expectations.

Dennis Greenberger, PhD | Christine A. Padesky, PhD

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