it’s an “emotional management” issue that people have labeled as an anger issue.  the problem is, we’re just not as angry as we often look. but we are hurt. we are overwhelmed. we are scared. we are ashamed. we do feel powerless. we do feel neglected, rejected and abandoned. and we are lonely and we do feel more hopeless and helpless than we’d like. and instead of being taught how to face and feel our real feelings, we reflexively just flip them in our heads and hearts into anger… which is why people think are problem is with anger, and not the real stuff underneath.

disguising our real feelings as anger has become a habit for those of us who you label as “angry”. instead of being taught that all emotions are natural and actually useful and beautiful, we learn to ignore them, deny them, repress them, or drown them in alcohol, drugs or other distractions. think about it. think about how you judge or perceive different feelings. do you look at depressed people as fragile or weak? do you get irritated with yourself when you let yourself feel lonely? think about what feelings you would choose to show if you had the choice…  would you feel more comfortable showing sadness? or anger?…  to express shame? or anger? … to convey loneliness or powerlessness or hopelessness?… or anger? and while you’re thinking about which feelings you think are more acceptable, keep in mind that we’re teenagers who think appearance is everything… and looking weak is not an option.

for most of us, the choice is easy (even though it often doesn’t feel like a choice)… and that’s to show the emotion that others see as more powerful, and not the ones that make us look weak or vulnerable.  as kids, most of our sense of self revolves around how others see us. and we’d much rather be seen as angry than ignorant, embarrassed, stupid, sensitive or even thoughtful.  it’s just how we’ve been conditioned. by our families, by movies, by athletes, by singers/rappers and performers.  we’re taught feelings are for wimps. tears are only shed by babies, “little girls” or the weak.  we’re taught power is gained by overpowering others, and not by picking others up.  we’re taught strength is measured by physical ability and not the capacity to do right when all others seem to be doing wrong. and we’re taught that confidence is measured by how little we care about what other people think about us, rather than by how true to ourselves and our own hearts we can be.  these statements may sound dramatic or exaggerated… but they’re really not. it’s how a lot of us think… without knowing it’s how we think.

these thoughts might be more extreme for some of us than others depending on where we grow up or who raised us, but the basic points about which emotions are more “acceptable” to others are pretty true for most young people. it’s just how a lot of us have been raised.  it’s an aggressive world we live in and we often feel like if we don’t match the aggression… then we’ll become the victims. and no one likes feeling like a victim. we’ve confused aggression with power and we’ve never been challenged to develop our emotional vocabulary or self-awareness. and we’ve never been taught that it takes far more confidence and courage to look directly at our vulnerabilities, than to look away from them. nor have we known many people who have role modeled the bravery to express how they really feel, even if it makes them “look” weak in the eyes of others.

we’ve only learned that anger looks strong and most, if not all other feelings look weak… and this is why so many of you think we have “anger” problems. which we don’t. so if you really want to address our “problem” and teach us how to “manage” ourselves in healthier ways, try not to address the anger you see or we show… look deeper, put a little more thought into your approaches with us, be more curious… and most of all, role model the courage to feel and express all of your emotions… not just the ONE that media says makes us look tough.


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