Female Anger

This newsletter will concentrate on anger in women.

Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D. is the author of The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships. Dr. Lerner describes anger as a signal. Anger may be signaling that we are doing too much for others, or that others are doing too much for us.

Dr. Lerner explores how women have typically been trapped into two types in regards to anger: the “Nice Lady” and the “Bitchy Woman”.

The Nice Lady is the woman who stays silent; she “grins and bears it.” Or she may become tearful, self-critical, or “hurt.” The Nice Lady is willing to sacrifice her own self and keep her anger internalized in order to avoid any type of conflict. The Nice Lady is so involved in going with the flow, and keeping the peace between parties that her needs are denied and not addressed at all. Once the Nice Lady has reached her boiling point, her anger explodes and others perceive her as the totally irrational and hyper-emotional person that she was initially afraid of seeming like.

The Bitchy Woman is the woman who is not afraid to let her feelings known to others. She is often labeled as being nagging and complaining towards others. Dr. Lerner explains that ineffectively expressing anger can be as harmful to the self and to others as being the Nice Lady.

Dr. Lerner’s book, The Dance of Anger, focuses on developing skills in four main areas for all women:

First, that women can learn to tune in to the true sources of their anger and clarify where they stand.

Second, that women can learn communication skills that will help maximize the chances of being heard and listened to so that areas of conflict can be negotiated and resolved.

Thirdly, that women can learn to observe and interrupt nonproductive patterns of interaction and step away from these situations.

Finally, that women can learn to anticipate and deal with countermoves or “Change Back!” reactions from others.

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