Anger gets a bad rep. But anger is a normal, healthy emotion in a vast array of emotions (we all have).
That’s not to say it’s always comfortable. But a lot of the discomfort we feel towards anger is because we haven’t been taught what to do with it. It’s seen as an “ugly” emotion – something we need to get rid of or suppress.
But anger in itself is not bad – it’s a normal, healthy response to feeling wronged in some way. It only becomes bad when we harmfully impose our anger onto others.
When anger isn’t validated, it doesn’t just disappear. It festers. Very often our anger is alerting us to something that needs to be changed.
Learning how to express our emotions in a healthy way can help us release them. The word emotion itself comes from the Latin “emotere”, literally meaning “energy in motion”.
Emotions need to be felt and experienced – given the space to move, and eventually pass through. Of course, that’s not to say we should be going around venting our anger and frustrations onto everyone we meet…. But stuffing our anger down comes at a cost – to both ourselves and others.
Learning how to sit and “be” with our anger can guide us towards living a life that is in line with our values.
Below we’ve listed some of anger’s valuable qualities:
Anger is there to protect us
Anger is one of our most primitive emotions, and it is there to protect us. Anger can trigger the body’s fight or flight response, helping us to fight or flee from danger. It alerts us that something’s “up”. Anger isn’t the “bad guy” – it’s simply looking out for us.
Anger teaches us where our boundaries are
When something angers you, look inward for the underlying cause. Are you being threatened? Is something you love and care for being threatened? Are your boundaries being violated? Anger can be used as a powerful indicator for where our boundaries are, motivating us to look out for ourselves – and the people we care about – more effectively.
It indicates that something wrong has been done to us – or to someone we love. It indicates that changes need to be made. Of course, that doesn’t mean acting aggressively but it’s an instigator for growth.
Anger enables us to get our needs met
Anger can alert us to injustice, and to reach out and strive for what we deserve. It can inspire us to take up our rightful place in the world.
Anger can motivate us to enact positive change
Whilst some of the more joyful emotions tend to guide us towards the positive, anger can guide us away from the negative – which is just as important. Anger has the power to move us away from dangerous or destructive people, places or even systems or beliefs.
Humans are emotional beings. To deny that is to deny what it is to be human – and it only causes us more harm than good. Instead of suppressing anger, try mindfully leaning in to it – see what it has to say, and use it for positive change.