Overtime, society has developed the mindset that anger is something that is bad and should be avoided. This mindset can lead many individuals to believe they have an anger or anger management problem leading to feelings of shame and anxiety. Contrary to what we may believe, anger is not actually a problem and viewing it as such can actually make things worse. Anger, like any emotion, is part of the human experience and is just as valid as feelings of sadness, joy, happiness, etc. While mismanaged anger can be detrimental, anger that is properly controlled can actually be channeled in order to elicit positive change. In order to be able to effectively channel our anger, it’s vital to challenge a few common myths surrounding the feeling of anger.
Anger is Bad
Viewing anger with this mindset means you’ll shame and judge yourself when this feeling comes up. Anger is an emotion as is happiness and sadness and it will present itself, inevitably, from time to time. Due to the shame that arises when anger shows up, it’s likely you’ll attempt to suppress the anger which can contribute to health problems such as anxiety, high blood pressure and depression. It’s also likely you’ll transfer the negative perception you have of anger onto others who, inevitably, experience anger as well. This judgement frequently leads to avoidance of the person experiencing anger.
It’s also important to acknowledge that anger appears on a spectrum. Not all anger entails yelling and throwing things. Anger can present itself as irritability and easy frustration as well. It’s helpful to view anger as a secondary emotion as there’s frequently an emotion, if not a few emotions, underlying the anger (sadness, hurt, grief, etc.). Taking the time to sit with your anger and think about what it may be telling you can be very beneficial. Often times, when you listen to yourself, you’ll find your anger is indicating a separate issue that needs to be solved.
Being Angry Means I’m Out of Control
While it’s certainly possible to feel out of control while angry, this isn’t always the case. We all need to practice self-control in various areas of our life which requires fostering self-awareness and utilizing external resources. The importance of self-control is not strictly linked to anger but all emotions. Instead of focusing on the feeling of anger, shifting focus to ways to practice self-control can be beneficial. Often times, when we’re tired or burnt out, the ability to maintain control becomes difficult. Viewing this practice as preventative instead of reactive can ensure the rest and self-care is in place to allow you to approach self-control from a place of understanding instead of frustration and self-judgment.
Anger Must Be Avoided. Period.
While anger may need to be controlled, there is always a cost to avoiding an emotion. Pretending things are okay when they’re not can lead to building resentment over time. The feelings of anger/frustration will inevitably show themselves at some point which can lead to confusion from the person on the receiving end. While avoiding the issue may allow for temporary relief in the moment, it causes the inevitable confrontation to be much more uncomfortable and confusing than if it were addressed in the moment.
To sum things up, anger is neither bad nor good. It doesn’t mean you’re out of control and shouldn’t be avoided for temporary comfort. Anger is an emotion that wants to be directed somewhere. Understanding this can allow you to direct this anger in a productive way that can lead to beneficial outcomes.
If you’ve found yourself struggling to manage your anger or channel it affectively, it may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment for therapy in Chicago with one of our very skilled counselors today!