“If you can channel some of that anger, instead of trying to push it away all the time, it might actually help. By making it ‘okay’ or ‘nice’ to ‘get along’ sometimes, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It’s okay to say no, I don’t want to do this. Or yes, I need someone else to help. I need some time for myself. Or I’m not okay with this anymore,” said Dr. Komal Gupta, Clinical Psychologist, Entrepreneur and Relationship Expert.
With over two years of pandemic bedlam, many Moms are beyond stressed. They’re enraged. Life’s daily pressures coexist with the big issues, like Monkeypox, inflation, and recent loss of reproductive rights. So, there’s a lot to be angry about. Yet, we’re not encouraged to express it.
And unlike joy or sadness, rage is not a compliant emotion. It doesn’t make other people feel comfortable. But if you’re worried that unchecked, your temper will lead to scorched earth, learn how anger can work for you.
Anger Can be Constructive
Komal explained, “Some people feel, that anger is going to destroy something if they express it. And there are many ways to express anger that can be destructive. But often anger, can be very constructive and lead to assertiveness. Anger is a normal human emotion that we all feel but it gets a bad reputation.” She explained, “Psychologist Dr. Carolyn Boyd talks about maternal rage. And how women are socialized to be nice girls. Nice girls don’t speak up, they go along with things and get along with others, because relational harmony is a big part of our socialization as women.” So, how can we honor our feelings?
And Instructive About Change
“Our emotions often provide information,” Komal said. She encourages us to pay attention. “So, try to understand that, for example, if I’m feeling angry a lot, what is coming up for me? What is it that I need here, that I’m not asking for? Or that I don’t want to ask for? Hone into that.” We often worry the anger will stir up drama and delay peace. But it can inform your next moves.
Tap Into Your Triggers
In our research study, many Mothers say they’re anxious, angry or depressed, about the state of the world. Including the lack of equity, stability, or safety, we crave. Komal said, “Systemic factors are making transitions, that would be happening already, amplified. And because rage has a different intensity, it’s hard to embrace.” Why yes.
She added, “We want to be in control and it’s a very out of control feeling. So, to deal with rage, become aware of your triggers in your relationships and work environment. Know certain things have the potential to bring that up for you and pay attention to that.”
Make Space for Your Feelings
Although therapy is a powerful way to process emotions, not everyone has access to it. But there are alternatives. Komal said, “Therapy can be a great space to have someone observe what you may not be aware of. But incorporating therapy into your life can be expensive and there are other ways. They don’t necessarily replace therapy but you can create some space to start thinking about these things. And one way is with journaling.”
Take Ten Minutes to Get Clear
Komal explains journaling doesn’t have to be a big time commitment. “The mindset to approach it with is, to create ten minutes whenever you feel like you’re having a very strong reaction to something. Decide, I’m going to sit for 10 minutes and write down what’s coming up for me. And being able to write that down first, is helpful. We use this common expression in psychology, name it to tame it. So, when you put things into words it makes you feel a little bit more in control of that emotion.”
And Identify Your Patterns
Komal suggests a quick exercise to get underneath the story you may be telling yourself, behind the feelings. She said, “For example if I’m feeling really angry right now, why do I think I might be feeling angry? What came up for me in that moment that made me feel angry? Wow my kid was crying I couldn’t console them and then I felt like a shitty Mother.” Amazing. She added, “So, that’s an example of how journaling can be useful to break it down further.”
Question Your Inner Story
Komal said, “It helps to challenge some of those beliefs that you have. So, for this example, it’s because you can’t control your baby’s tears. As you know well, babies don’t come with manuals or words, so they we often don’t know why they cry. We try to figure it out.”
When we’re upset, we may have an unhelpful talk track in our heads. She explained, “And it becomes a challenge when we start to make judgments about ourselves based what our child or partner, is or is not doing. And whether that’s a reflection of who we are.”
Take a Pause
Emotions like rage can show up quickly. Komal reminds us that we can delay our reaction. “Know that you don’t have to address a situation in the moment. And that can be frustrating for some people. Because they’re like, ‘why couldn’t I just speak up for what I needed or just say no you’re wrong’ in that moment?”
Pent up distress can bring big reactions. She added, “And it’s not that you won’t get there. But if it’s so intense, the goal should be to regulate that feeling, provide yourself a space to process and work through it first.” So how can we reset?
Bring Yourself Back to Calm
Komal said, “So, for some people that’s channeling things with their bodies. Like going for run or putting on some loud music and dancing. For others it’s writing or diaphragmatic breathing. Some people use the Calm app to view something that can be calming for them visually.”
So, choose your own adventure. She said, “First check in with yourself about what might be the most helpful. Because we’re all unique. And something might work for you, that may not work for someone else. So, when you feel regulated then ask yourself, what is it that I need to do here?”
So, give yourself the gift of grace. And time to process your emotions without the guilt and self-judgement.
Many thanks to the talented Dr. Komal Gupta!
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Dr. Komal Gupta is a clinical psychologist in private practice in the Greater Boston Area. She has a team approach to working with her clients to address challenges as they navigate life transitions, relationship concerns, cultural issues, spiritual/existential/
In addition to therapy work, Dr. Gupta has a passion for writing and speaking to the ups and downs people experience with their family, relationships, parenthood, identity and culture(s). Her mission is to reassure people that they are not alone in the complexity of their experiences, to build curiosity and self-compassion as they go through challenges, to understand how systemic biases contribute to these challenges, and to break the stigma with therapy and seeking support.Tags: healthy family relationships, Manage Stress For Moms, managing anger, managing rage, managing your mental and emotional health, stress management