“I think it's very important to mention also, Elise, that even if a woman feels permission to be angry, that anger is such a tricky mischievous emotion that it's so difficult to know what our anger means or what to do with it. So we may know that we’re angry and anger activates us to, to act, to take a position, to do something, but our anger does not tell us what the real issue is, who is responsible for what, what is the best way to proceed with our anger…” So says psychotherapist Dr. Harriet Lerner. Lerner is known and beloved for her many best-selling books about women, family systems, and relationships, including the classic Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships, which we explore in today's episode.
Lerner believes that anger is an essential, but oftentimes misunderstood and mismanaged emotion. She set out to write Dance of Anger to tackle female anger specifically, of which nothing had been written at that time. When women are discouraged from discussing their anger, she tells us, they lose a sense of self, as the pain of our anger preserves our dignity. We discuss the stereotype of the unloving, unlovable, and destructive angry woman, and the way in which female anger is only deemed acceptable when it is on the behalf of others.
Lerner leaves us with tips for beginning to work through our anger productively, starting with moving toward assertive self-definition without asking for permission, and ultimately becoming careful observers of our own role in the patterns that keep us stuck in anger so that we may make positive, lasting change on our own behalf.
The importance of anger…(5:25)
Are you a nice lady or a bitch…(9:00)
Working through anger productively…(21:40)
Moving towards self definition…(36:36)
MORE FROM HARRIET LERNER:
Harriet Lerner's Website
The Dance Of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Pattern of Intimate Relationships
The Dance Of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You're Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate
The Dance Of Intimacy: A Woman's Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships
The Dance Of Fear: Rising Above Anxiety, Fear, and Shame to Be Your Best and Bravest Self
The Dance Of Deception: A Guide to Authenticity and Truth-Telling in Women's Relationships
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