Is anger a negative emotion? Is anger bad for us?
From observing people and their anger to listening to clients, I think that anger has been given a bad name. There are so many people walking around feeling as if they are bad people or just feeling unworthy because they are angry.
Our society has turned anger into a weapon and showcases it as a destructive force. These portrayals have left people terrified of facing their anger, and so some pretend that it’s not there, some give into it and become consumed by it, and others just do the best that they can to manage it.
But, if you are reading this post, then you are interested in developing a better, a healthier, and a more useful relationship with your anger. So, let’s get started.
Here are 5 things that you should know about anger.
First things first; no, anger is a not a negative emotion.
Anger is an emotion just as joy and sadness are. Emotions help us relate to our surroundings as they describe our subjective experiences. They are neither bad nor good. However, humans tend to label everything and because anger can vary in intensity – especially when uncontrolled – it gets blamed for a lot of bad behaviors. Anger is considered a negative emotion because it’s viewed as a darker emotion, and sometimes, an unacceptable emotion.
Anger is an internal signal that something is wrong. It is there to help guide us and implores us to examine our internal world to find out what went wrong. But most often, people will seek to avoid the anger or hide it. Anger does not go away, it will only continue to build until it erupts.
Anger is a secondary emotion.
When anger surfaces, it is normally covering another emotion. Many times, we may have an emotional reaction to a stimulus but may not understand why we were triggered. Our emotional reactions are sometimes subconscious. The anger rises to the surface as a protective emotion to help us avoid feeling any pain.
The problem with this is that this is where many people stay. They live in the anger. Sometimes, people embrace the anger so much so that they get stuck in the anger but still never truly understand what’s really bothering them. The anger then becomes a defense mechanism that helps them avoid dealing with the true feelings piling up below the surface.
Anger is protective.
Since anger is a secondary emotion, it protects people from their true feelings; it helps us avoid the things that we do not want to think about or face.
When we feel angry, we feel empowered, instead of vulnerable; we feel outraged, instead of the victim; we feel wronged, instead of being the one at fault. The anger helps us to feel in control and strong, instead of feeling vulnerable and hurt.
The problem with anger is that most of us do not know how to express it in a healthy manner.
The problem with anger is that many of us have never been taught how to express the darker emotions, such as sadness, frustration, and anger. But all emotions – see point 1 – are not good or bad, they just are. We must learn to be present with our emotions, and to do this, we have to start letting go of some of the old stories and lessons that we have been taught.
Emotions are how we make sense of the world around us. Our emotions reflect how we relate to the world and demonstrate how we are coping with the information we are receiving from our environments and relationships.
Some healthy ways to express anger are:
- Yelling into a pillow, a car, or yelling out loud somewhere private so that you can really let out the emotion without harming anyone or having to explain anything to anyone.
- Talk to a close friend who will give you the space to work out your emotions.
- Talk to yourself out loud. Some of you may find this crazy but saying things out loud sound extremely different than when you say them in your head. Think of reading out loud versus reading in your head.
- Laugh! Again, another silly idea but sometimes the laughter is so unexpected, it works. It takes the tension out of you and the situation. It takes your mind off the anger. And it gives you the release you need.
- Exercising provides a great emotional release. Best of all, you can go as hard you need to so that you can get the anger out. Exercise is not just going to the gym, it can be going for a walk, a run, a swim, or playing a sport. You will feel so much better afterwards. Bonus…you got a great workout as well!
- Journaling! Writing is always soothing and helps you gather your thoughts in a cohesive manner.
Avoiding the true feelings below the anger does not work.
I like to think of our emotional experiences as a well…The Emotional Well. Just because you do not see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. The more you put into the well, the more it fills up. If you never empty the well, it will eventually overflow.
The more emotions you avoid and push down, the more you pile on top of it. Eventually, those emotions are going to erupt. Unfortunately, this is where many people find themselves because they do not take preventative steps to heal themselves. When your emotions start to overflow, you are now in the reactive phase. You are just reacting to what’s happening inside of you.
Another way to look at this is self-care. This is why self-care has become such a buzz word. Self-care includes checking in with yourself, monitoring your emotions, and checking to see where you feel overwhelmed or where you need to give yourself some care. When you practice self-care, you will quickly notice when your emotions are becoming overwhelming and you will do the work to examine what’s causing the overwhelm, and you will be able to create a plan to care for the overwhelm.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of anger as an emotion. How can you use this knowledge to improve your life? Is Anger a Negative Emotion? Take the time to do your own internal work with the below resources.
Why not start by downloading the anger worksheet here and start the process of truly getting to know yourself. Remember, self-awareness is the key to making changes that you want in your life. And be sure to checkout our Printable page for additional resources.