Recognizing our capacity for anger, hostility, hate, and resentment is harder than recognizing happiness, generosity, and fear in ourselves. The latter feelings are condoned. It's okay to be pleasant, nice people, just as our parents always said. But we don't want to be rude and nasty, and so we routinely suppress our anger.
We are all naturally aggressive and capable of hate. Some experts even believe that hate is part of love. We all seek partners who have traits we wish we had ourselves, and from time to time, inevitably, resentment wells up. "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" asked Henry Higgins. A wise man once told me that many people divorce for precisely the same reasons they got married; at the end, partners hate each other and are angered by the same characteristics that had earlier been responsible for mutual love.
Aggression is necessary to reach goals, to remind us to keep on our toes and be on the alert. Aggression in the old days was a matter of life or death. Without it survival was not possible. Anger often results when we feel someone interfering with our natural aggression. Women who feel they cannot yell, who feel they've been kept on the farm or in the kitchen too long, are experiencing a natural hostility reaction to outside manipulation. The brain sends constant messages through the body, and the message of aggression is to prepare us for greater effort.
If we contain our anger though our body is on alert, disabling consequences are unavoidable. Ulcers, migraine headaches, backaches, and menstrual pain plague millions of Americans. I believe that in many cases they are suffering from repressed anger.
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