Anger is one of our most primal emotions, a first-alert response to something we have interpreted as a threat, often without knowing what or why. At its best, anger protects us, defends us, and helps us survive. But unmanaged anger can increase relationship stress, decrease our overall satisfaction with life, and even contribute to significant health issues such as cardio-vascular disease and lowered immune response. In fact, chronic anger can be linked to symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Anger is not our enemy. But ignoring anger or trying to suppress it can turn it into a negative force in our life, when it has the potential to be a very positive force indeed.
When I work with people who bring concerns about feelings of anger, my first task is to encourage them to view anger as their ally. We can’t “fight” anger because that only increases our anger’s need to express itself. By enlisting our anger as an aid to self-understanding, we can begin to hear the power and truth of the message anger brings.
Anger does have a message — an important one. And often it is linked to our deepest sense of identity. We all have a need, and indeed a right, to hold our self-hood inviolable, and to expect that others do the same. Anger lets us know when our sense of self-hood feels threatened. And that, in turn, can be an opportunity for us to find better ways to support our self-hood, and help it thrive.
If you would like to feel more empowered, and less controlled, by your anger — I encourage you to contact me.
"You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here."
from the Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann