How often do you find yourself feeling angry? What about the guy who took your parking spot, or the coffee shop that is out of your favorite drink, or the speeding ticket you got on your way home from work? Do these things, or others, really “get your goat?”
While these are all plausible occurrences in any of our lives, some people let a single incident erupt like an angry volcano inside of them – spoiling their day and impacting their health and the health of others around them. But, does anger actually have a place? Is it right to get angry, and what can we do about it when we do get angry?
There is much debate on the subject of anger and whether or not it is useful in our lives. Some experts feel that anger is a necessary emotion that brings change, while others feel it has no purpose at all and only causes damage.
Anger is Natural
According to therapist Michael Kimmel, anger is a sign that our needs are not being met, and it is natural and healthy to feel anger when we are treated wrongly. Kimmel says that all anger has to go somewhere, or you will explode.
His recommendation is to find a middle ground between reacting and repressing. Mental health, he says, is dependent on finding this ground because suppressing anger can cause great damage.
Chronic anger occurs when we have a reaction to old stuff that we have not dealt with. People who are chronically angry are often unhealthy in many ways, both physically and psychologically.
Kimmel says that anger management therapy asks people to think, not react, first. Since our thoughts create our emotional responses, this is key to coping with anger. We have to address our anger, even that which is very deep-seeded. We must admit that we are angry and find a healthy way to deal with it.
The worst thing possible to do when angry is to yell at someone or blame someone for our anger. When we do this, we can destroy relationships with the ones we love; we tend to take our anger out on those we are closest to first.
Here are a few healthy ways to express anger:
The most important thing is that you THINK first, before you say or do something you will regret.
What about living a life where you never get angry? Is that even possible. Some say yes and that anger is a gift that you don’t have to accept. Noted author and lecturer Wayne Dyer said, “there is no psychological reward for anger…. Anger is debilitating.” In the physiological realm, it can produce hypertension, ulcers, rashes, heart palpitations, insomnia, fatigue and even heart disease.
In the psychological sense, anger breaks down love relationships, interferes with communication, leads to guilt and depression and generally just gets in your way. You may be skeptical, since you’ve always heard that expressing your anger is healthier than keeping it bottled up inside of you.
Yes, the expression of anger is indeed a healthier alternative than suppressing it. But there is an even healthier alternative than suppressing it–not having the anger at all. In this case, you won’t be confronted with the dilemma of whether to let it out or keep it in.
Dyer says that where we harbor angry thoughts, resentment and hostility, we make no room for peace and forgiveness. He suggests trying to examine all relationships in our lives where we feel judgmental or have thoughts that are angry and make an effort to replace those thoughts with energies of acceptance, cheerfulness and love.
This is not easy and will take a personal commitment to recognizing and admitting to feelings of anger. Dyer says that when you send love instead of anger you are able to see that even your worst enemies can become your best teachers, because they allow you to examine the emotions of anger and revenge and move away from them.
Perhaps Buddha got it right when he said “We live happily indeed, not hating those who hate us. Among men who hate us we dwell free from hatred.”
-The Alternative Daily