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Why Anger Isn’t A Bad Emotion

Conversations around anger usually turn to how you must learn to minimize or not experience this emotion. When compared to other feelings like happiness and enthusiasm, anger usually has a negative connotation. Across various cultures, anger is often frowned upon and beliefs surrounding the expression of anger are similar; that anger is a dangerous emotion and is not okay to express. The truth of the matter is that anger is a normal and healthy human emotion that serves a purpose. The key is to express anger in a healthy way, rather than a destructive way.

The Top Causes of Anger

Environmental triggers aren’t the only reason people get angry. Researchers break down why people get angry due to different reasons:

Portrait of a stressed woman holding head in hands
  • You are responding to someone’s perceived misdeeds
  • You get irritated because of things outside control, like the traffic, the weather, pain or someone just being plain annoying
  • Memories of traumatic experiences and events become rooted
  • Inherited tendencies, underlying medical conditions and brain chemistry can also increase the expression of anger

You can also have unique anger triggers based on what your surroundings have taught you to expect from yourself and others. For instance, if you did not learn to express angry feelings appropriately, you can keep it all bottled up, which can lead to an unhealthy outburst sometime later.

Why Anger Can Be Good for You

Channeling anger can be a great way to communicate competence and strength. This emotion can also promote reconciliation rather than retaliation while expressing grievances.  Controlled expressions of anger become more adaptive than hostile or pent-up angry feelings.  If you turn your accusing statement into a non-accusing one, such as telling your roommate to do the dirty dishes as it irritates you, it can help solve conflicts that cause anger.  Aside from helping you speak clearly and negotiating, constructive anger can also motivate you.

But what happens when someone’s behavior hurts you, and there is no way to solve the conflict? Several research studies point to one answer: forgiveness. Forgiveness releases anger and calms the body without letting the offender off the hook or inviting any further harm. According to a study conducted by Dr. Charlotte Witvliet and her colleagues, the bodily effects of forgiveness included fewer negative feelings, regular heart rate, and low blood pressure.

Controlling Anger

Anger can be positive when it helps you work towards your issues. On the other hand, if fits of anger make you hostile or frustrated, it can become problematic.  The age-old method of catharsis is said to release angry emotions. Catharsis is the release of repressed or strong emotions. But in many studies, it has only helped people cleanse their rage temporarily. Quite the contrary, catharsis may end by magnifying your anger.

When you find your anger escalating, try these five strategies to control it:

Take a Breather 

When you are angry, your breathing grows more shallow and your heart rate speeds up. When our heart rate speeds up, this sends our blood pumping fast through our body and begins signaling our fight or flight survival response, which throws you into an irrational state of mind. This is when we do not need to think rationally, have good judgement or impulse control because our brain thinks we need to get prepared to physically fight for our lives, or run away really quickly. Diaphragmatic breathing is a great way to quickly decrease your heart rate and get you back into your rational mind. Once your physiology is more settled, you will be much more capable of expressing your anger in a healthy and productive way.

Countdown 

Try a countdown from 100 to 1 to distract and calm yourself. This will also help give you time between feeling completely enraged and impulsively acting on your anger feelings so you can have a healthier response and expression of anger

Remember or Repeat a Slogan 

A mantra or slogan such as ‘you will be okay and ‘take it slow’ will help you stay calm and refocus again. You can repeat the mantra again and again until you find yourself feeling better.

Exercise 

Exercise helps tremendously to calm your nerves and irritation. Anything to counter the negative stress with positive stress on your body can be helpful.

Escape Mentally 

You can slip into a quiet room and visualize yourself in a serene environment. Run your imagination and create a scene that relaxes and calms your anger.

Final Thoughts

Remember, anger is necessary for your survival, so be gentle with yourself. Being angry at the right person at the right time can communicate and sort out issues if expressed in a healthy and productive way. Your goal is to be a master and have control over the expression of your anger.

Posted in Aggression, Anger Management

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