This isn’t a trick question. If you’re like me, you have seen quotes on the internet about why not to be angry and how damaging anger is. Basically I get the sense that everyone recommends that you are not allowed to be angry.
This angers me…
Anger is an emotion and it is OK to have
Sadness is an emotion and it is OK to have
Joy is an emotion and it is OK to have
Do you see a theme here?
Living every moment in anger and anger being your main emotion is not healthy. It is OK to be angry and it isn’t a BAD thing to get angry sometimes.
So instead of saying “Oh I’m Angry and I shouldn’t be angry…” …”bad, bad, bad….” and judging yourself for being angry, ask yourself what the benefit of your anger is?
There is a benefit?
Sure there is!!
We human beings are pretty smart and complex. Our emotions and behaviors are often serving some type of goal. We have a very complex psychological system inside and it usually does things for a reason.
“My anger protects me from feeling hurt”
“My anger keeps other people away”
“My anger hides my insecurity”
The list can go on and on, but you get the idea. Your anger is beneficial to your psychological system in a variety of ways and can be very different for different people. Therefore I’m not one to denounce anger as this “bad” emotion that should just “go away” and say “stop it.” It is an emotion to be explored. It is there for a reason! If you stop using it abruptly, the whole system could fall apart and then we have a big mess to clean up… and frankly, I’m not one for cleaning :-/
By looking at the benefit your anger is serving you, you can learn more about why you are pissed off. You can understand why that person chewing so loudly is bothering you so much. But really, Why are they chewing so LOUDLY?!?! The loud chewing is not likely the root of your anger. Your anger is serving you something in that moment. Maybe you were triggered and are anxious and scared? Maybe it is protecting you from other feelings? Maybe it is doing a job that is was trained to do when you were younger… so many functions your anger could have at any given moment.
Sometimes my clients worry that as their therapist I don’t want them to feel certain ways or that I’m going to just take everything that seems negative and say this needs to go out the window, when in reality I’m not about to take something that is helping you and rip it out from under your feet.
First we need to understand the purpose of your anger. Where it is coming from, what is it really about, and then we can move on from there.
So bottom line is when you get angry don’t think to yourself “Oh I shouldn’t be angry,” stuff the ange,r and feel bad about getting upset. Think, “What is the benefit of my anger? How is it serving me?”
The answers can be enlightening!