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The Upside of Anger
Written By: Mark Smith

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Anger gets a bad rap. You can't have a healthy relationship without anger. You can't have a healthy career without anger. Anger protects you from unsafe people, from disrespect, from intrusion and from otherwise being taken advantage of. In the movie 'The Upside of Anger' Kevin Costner plays what he plays best, an aging, alcoholic former baseball player with equal parts endearing little boy and real man left buried under all the baggage. You HAVE to see this 2 minute scene. It is powerful. Be warned, there is some language. But the scene captures the 'fire in the belly' manning up attitude that many soft men in our culture of have lost. In our efforts to be good enough, to make women happy, to be a good dad, to be a good husband, to provide enough, and to not look like a jerk in doing so we have bred an entire generation of weak, passive, insecure 'too nice' men who get a hero in Costner's character here...The Upside of Anger "Its Enough!"

After the bathroom door incident Costner's character declined calls from his formerly dismissive girlfriend for a month. His anger said "I will not be treated like a weak little boy by you. I am a man and if you want to be in a relationship with me you will treat me with dignity and respect." It righted their relationship. It gave Joan Allen's character a solid man to respect and admire.

Okay, don't try that one on your wife tonight. Maybe there was a little Hollywood involved here. If you bust down the bathroom door and start dropping MF's I can't guarantee that it will work out for you the way it did for Costner's character. If you go Kevin Costner and the police show up at your house I disavow any responsibility for that. But I think you get the point. Anger lets people know where they begin and where you end. Anger well shared gets people to really hear you. Respect is commanded. If anyone in your life is disrespecting you they do so due to your allowing them to do so. It is much more your issue than it is theirs. If you are being disrespected then make an impression by using your feet and backing up from the source of the disrespect.

I want to invite men with assertiveness issues to join our new 'No More Mr. Nice Guy' therapy group beginning May 31st. We will play audio of the book 'No More Mr. Nice Guy' each week and then discuss family of origin issues, assertiveness, entitlement, boundaries, addictions, rescuing, conflict, friendship, women, sex and other guy stuff. The group will meet every Tuesday at 7:30pm in my office. The cost is $25.00. It is going to be a great, empowering group for men. Email me at if you are interested in the men's group.

I am directing this message to women as well as men. Women historically have much more trouble asserting themselves in relationships. So here is an awesome link for you ladies... Sara Bareilles' Brilliant Anthem on Codependency Recovery 'King of Anything'. I love this song. One of my female Codependent clients told me about it recently.

Here are the lyrics...

Keep drinking coffee, stare me down across the table
While I look outside
So many things I’d say if only I were able
But I just keep quiet and count the cars that pass by

You’ve got opinions, man
We’re all entitled to ‘em, but I never asked
So let me thank you for your time, and try not to waste anymore of mine
And get out of here fast

I hate to break it to you babe, but I’m not drowning
There’s no one here to save

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

You sound so innocent, all full of good intent
Swear you know best
But you expect me to jump up on board with you
And ride off into your delusional sunset

I’m not the one who’s lost with no direction
But you’ll never see
Sara Bareilles King Of Anything lyrics found on

There is fire in the belly of that song. It resonates with assertiveness, playfulness and joy. We also have a weekly codependent's group for women that meets every Tuesday at 5:30pm. It is where passive women come to put 'Braveheart' face paint on to prepare for boundary warfare with husbands, parents, children and bosses. Email me at if you are interested in this group.

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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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