Healthy and Unhealthy Anger
This is the second in a series of blogs about anger and looks at both healthy and unhealthy anger. Anger is a very important emotion and healthy anger has been described as “a surge of calm energy, an empowered and energised feeling without tension or anxiety.” Healthy anger demands reflection. It requires that we take time and exert the effort to empower the rational mind to override the emotional mind. Healthy anger demands that we have the capacity to pause and assess whether the threat we feel is real and imminent, to determine the urgency of the situation, and to respond appropriately and constructively.
The benefits of anger
- Anger can be a positive emotion. Holding back anger is NOT always the best approach in life.
- It can help resolve disputes when combined with a proactive approach.
- It can be a motivating force and make us push on towards our goals in the face of problems and barriers.
- It can honestly communicate feelings about other people’s behaviour or clear the air – rather than keeping things “bottled up” over a long time
- It can give us the feeling that “I am in control and viewed with respect”
- On a wider scale it can protect us from injustice and/or danger and can help promote justice without resorting to violence
- It can help us to feel more alive and energised, to combat a sense of self instead of feeling worthless
Unfortunately, there’s a whole laundry list of ways that anger can have a negative effect on your life and on the lives of those around you.
Do you ever feel like your anger might be getting out of control? Do you have trouble calming down when you get angry? How do you express these feelings? If anger is a common emotion in your life, chances are you’re causing undue harm to yourself and others.
The negative effects of anger
- Many angry people will die before their time, of cardio-vascular complications brought on by the continuing periods of high physical arousal.
- Life may be dangerous and unpleasant, for themselves and those around them.
- The rising levels of angry behaviour in society are making whole communities more stressful, intimidating and depressing places to be.
- In general communication suffers – people hear only the anger, not the issue. They see only an angry person not the whole person who has many good qualities.
- Over time it can lead to fear and distrust and lead to a breakdown in a relationship.
- It can lead to a loss of control and subsequent shame and guilt.
- Children can learn and copy angry patterns from parents.
- It can escalate into physical violence.
No one MAKES us angry
We choose who we let under our skin and how we will express the anger that results. We can choose to talk calmly rather than scream or become violent. We can choose to walk away from a ﬁght rather than give in to conﬂict. Giving others control of our lives—by choosing to let them annoy us—places us in the victim role and reinforces the feeling of powerlessness. Violence to self or others is not an option. It only temporarily relieves tension, while destroying inner peace and relationships. Experiencing uncontrollable or excessive anger always means that something is not working well in a person’s life. No one is naturally an ‘angry’ person; they are just, temporarily, overcome by anger and can learn how to cease to be its victim.
Need some advice and support?
If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in this article, or indeed any other emotional issues or life challenges and would like to talk things over in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.
See also: Learning About Anger, Anger Management, Control your Anger!