Most of us learned that aggression is wrong. We learned to behave politely, to be courteous, agreeable and kind. We learned to anticipate the lenses through which other people see us, and then, to fear their judgments. “What will people think if I say what’s on my mind?” “What will people say if I look aggressive?” As a therapist, I hear all kinds of concerns—fears that people will judge and talk about us—and by almost every measure, being called aggressive means we’ve behaved inappropriately. As a result, we avert the impulse to be honest about our thoughts and feelings because we’re not sure we’re allowed to be forthright. Out of the dilemma about how we will “look,” many of us actually prefer passive aggression as a means to escape our fears of being straightforward. We work ourselves into knots withholding our real feelings, but other people usually sense them anyway. Passive aggression doesn’t work no matter which side you’re on.
We’ve forgotten that aggression holds an important place in the spectrum of human emotion, that it’s a feeling that reveals information about how we can attend to ourselves and our relationships. Aggression, like any emotion, contains wisdom that points the way towards alignment with our higher selves.
Of course we won’t resolve aggressive feelings by being hostile or by aggressing others. Lashing out won’t work, nor will other approaches that amplify aggression. But neither will we come to a positive relationship with aggression by disavowing our feelings…
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