Amanda Gregory, LCPC, EMDR

Do you feel comfortable feeling and expressing your anger? You might not be, as anger has a bad reputation. We tend to label anger as a negative emotion and at times we even judge those who express anger. Have you heard or used these phrases when someone is expressing anger? They have an anger management problem. They are crazy. What’s wrong with them? This bias and judgment against anger can make it difficult for you to feel comfortable expressing your anger. Anger is a healthy emotion and there are many benefits to experiencing and expressing your anger.

Anger Can Save Your Life

Anger is one of our best defense mechanisms against harm. Consider this scenario: You are walking on a sidewalk and someone attempts to assault you. There are many ways in which you might react, such as running away or freezing. You might also express physical aggression towards your assailant which is called the fight response. You may feel intense anger which increases your ability to fight. Anger helps you to fight assailants who intend to harm you.

Anger as a means of survival doesn’t always take the shape of physical aggression. Yelling, facial features, intense eye contact, and certain body postures are methods that can be used to promote safety. Take this example: you are standing on a sidewalk and someone is approaching you. Your instincts kick in, and you feel on guard. You don’t know why, but your posture suddenly changes. Your feet are now shoulder-width apart, your shoulders are pushed back and you appear bigger. You also feel stronger. You are angry and ready to fight if necessary. These expressions are also part of the fight response that promotes your safety.

Anger Can Promote Self Worth

They shouldn’t treat me this way.
This isn’t fair.
I deserve better than this.

There are times when we feel angry when we’ve been mistreated. This is a healthy reaction because this anger reminds us that we have worth. Take this scenario: Your boss gives a raise to a coworker who underperforms and is a disciplinary problem, yet your request for a raise was denied. You may feel angry, as this situation conflicts with your perception of your value at work. In this situation, your anger is a rational response to unfair treatment. This anger may motivate you to advocate for yourself at work or seek another position or company who would acknowledge your value. Anger can help to solidify and promote your sense of self-worth.

Anger Can Serve as an Emotional Bridge

In some cultures, anger can feel safer to feel and express when compared to other emotions such as fear and sadness. Sometimes when we feel fear or sadness we express anger as a way to cope with these emotions. Anger can serve as a bridge to access, express, and resolve emotions such as fear and sadness which may be negatively impacting your moods or actions. Take these examples: You may feel a rush of anger is someone attempts to assault you, but you may also feel fearful. You might feel angry when your undeserving coworker receives a raise, but you also mighthave been feeling sadness or disappointment. When you are feeling angry, you may want to ask yourself: “Is anger all that I’m feeling? Or is there something else?” If you notice that you are experiencing other emotions, it’s important to acknowledge and process them.

Anger’s bad reputation can make it difficult for you to feel comfortable expressing your anger. However, anger can be a healthy emotion and there are many benefits to experiencing and expressing it.

If you experience anger and struggle to manage it, you may benefit from participating in counseling. Symmetry Counseling provides individual, family, and couples counseling which can help with anger management. Contact Symmetry Counseling at (312) 578-9990 to schedule an appointment.