Anger (from Mary Rose)
From: Fred H. Olson (
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999 05:38:12 -0600 (MDT)
Sent from: Lynette Loffel <laloffel [at]>,
Mary Rose, Waitakere EcoNeighbourhood CoHousing, Aotearoa/New Zealand
is the author of the message below but due to a problem it was posted
by the Fred the list manager: owner-cohousing-L [at]
--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------

Kia ora CoHousers.
I?ve been fascinated with the conversation about anger and ways of
expressing it.
I?ve been wondering about it for years, and welcome the chance to add my
bit from Aotearoa- the Land of the Long White Cloud, also known as New
Where to begin?
At the beginning, of course. Which is where I got interested in finding
out about anger: my own and that of others around me. It seemed like the
big bogey: the part of being human that  destroyed relationships,
households, and the ability to work together. It seemed to be everywhere
in one form or another.
A friend showed me how to journal. There was plenty of anger in my
journal: my own and others?.. I journalled for years and then found a
course called Social Ecology at an Australian university that gave me
the chance to read my journals of eight years, writings by other people,
and to make some sense of it all. 
This is the bit of my learning that I found most helpful.
When I express anger, it usually trips fear in others. It also sets off
my own fear. Then I get angry with mself for being scared: and angry. So
there are two cycles of anger and fear set up. One  is between me and
the other: one within myself. When someone is angry at me. I get scared!
And angry with myself for being scared: and angry at them for being
angry. And scared about where all this anger is leading. And so the
cycle keeps going.  My long slow journey has been to learn how to break 
Then I think of that book title ?Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway?. I?ve
never read the book: the title speaks loudly to me. So I?m learning to
know the fear that comes up in me and in others when one or the other is
angry, and LISTEN to what is happening. 
It?s hard, because fear mostly gets in the way of listening. And yet
anger always has a message driving it.
When I get angry it mostly explodes like a volcano: sometimes big:
sometimes quite little. These days I?m trusting my anger and know that
there is something I need to deal with. It?s mostly  set off by
something happening now that touches my sense of injustice, igniting
memory of a parallel happening in my past. Sometimes it is an
accumulation of small irks that I?ve neglected to deal with. The irks
add up to irriitation that can be volcano fuel. 
I mostly write (still journalling!) and talk to others (an advantage of
a shared house) then go back to the person I exploded at and, if they
are willing, tell
them what set it all off - and listen to what they have to say. Some
great conversations have come out of this.
This is how it is for me. It?s probably different for other people.  I
find it helpful to know my own process, and I am interested to hear
about others.

Our project has a list of communication guidelines written in the early
days of the project after a major conflict. The first one is about using
"I statements". This has been found a most useful tool. When I say what
is happening for me, and stay out of "you!" and "we", communication, no
matter how intense, stays clear. When feelings are strong, each ?you?
carries arrows that go right in, and ?we? is just plain fuzzy: most
unclear. ?I? helps to keep the fight clean.
 And I?m getting better at hearing even though I am scared. And am
looking forward to the day when I can sound off, get it off my chest and
the other will do the same. Sounds clean and clear to me. 

I?m not yet in a CoHousing village. While I wait and work towards the
Waitakere EcoNeighbourhood CoHousing project (WENCP) to be built in West
Auckland , I am living in a rented house with four others. Four of us 
plan to live in WENCP. This CoHouse is a great preparation for
It?s great getting messages from other CoHousers. We?re preparing for
The Great Debate on clotheslines. I delight in reading the letters
coming through. 

Thank you.
Mary Rose
Waitakere EcoNeighbourhood CoHousing Project
Aotearoa/New Zealand

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