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Is There Value in My Anger?

Jessica Pontis, LCSW

What do you think of when you think of yourself being angry?  Do you see a person who seems out of control, sad, aggressive even?  Anger is an emotion that frequently gets a bad reputation, especially when compared to other, more positively associated emotions.  However, like every other emotion anger has its place in our bank of feelings.  Anger is so closely associated with aggression that many people would rather it be wiped away completely from their emotional memory than learn to connect with it and process it in a meaningful way.  

All emotions have a place and can be appropriate under certain circumstances. Just like happiness and joy can tell us something is right, anger can tell us something is wrong.  How often have you felt angry as a direct reaction to an injustice that you or someone else has experienced?  Do you recall an instance where you felt you were being treated unfairly and wanted to advocate for yourself?  In examples such as these the anger you experienced has a clear purpose.  Let’s take some time to talk about why anger, when constructive and appropriate, is a necessary part of our emotional repertoire. 

Anger is designed to promote survival.

The fight response that we feel when threatened is derived from anger, and from an evolutionary perspective has developed overtime to keep us safe and provide a sense of control.  Sometimes anger arises out of a need to protect ourselves from aggression, and if we can learn to contextualize anger more from this perspective, it can help to make anger a little less scary to confront and analyze when we feel it.  

Anger often motivates problem-solving and social change. 

Almost every social movement in history fighting for the rights of ourselves and others came about from a place of righteous anger.  As so powerfully stated by Moshe Ratson, “Anger serves as an internal guidance system that indicates something is not quite right, that someone has treated us unjustly or unfairly” (2017).  When used in this way anger can be a powerful facilitator for change.  

Anger can drive goals.

When assessed and analyzed in a constructive way, anger can help us identify our desires and take action to pursue them.  If you’ve ever been passed up on a promotion or are sick of not getting paid as much as you deserve then you may be familiar with this type of anger.  Perhaps it motivated you to find alternative employment, go back to school, or negotiate for what you are worth in the workplace.  Anger can be a useful tool in helping us make the change we want to see in our lives.  

Anger can help us build better emotional intelligence.

 Anger is often considered a secondary emotion because it usually covers up a deeper, almost more vulnerable reaction to a hurt we’ve experienced.  Anger can be a response to feeling sad, rejected, afraid, or even confused.  If we allow ourselves space to reflect on our anger we can develop a better understanding and wisdom about our emotions giving us better power to be able to take care of ourselves.  

Anger can lead to better conflict resolution.

While this sounds somewhat oxymoronic, being able to appropriately identify and honor our anger can allow us to speak our needs and experiences, though it’s important to do still do so in a respectful way.  When we learn to allow anger to exist in an appropriate amount, not ignoring it or making it any bigger, we are able to use it as a tool for communication.  If someone has hurt you, you’re allowed to be angry with them and communicate that, though not becoming blinded by anger is an important part of this conversation.  When you learn to recognize and connect with constructive anger it has the potential to lead to better outcomes than simply letting your feelings be swept under the rug.

If you’re interested in learning how to connect with your anger in appropriate and constructive ways, or would like to connect with someone to walk with you on this journey reach out to one of the licensed therapists with Symmetry Counseling.  You can reach out to us online at or by calling us at (312) 578-9990 to set up an appointment.

Ratson, M. (2017, March 9). The value of anger: 16 reasons it’s good to get angry.

Therapy Blog. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from 

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