Lately, more and more people seem to be stating, “I don’t know why I feel so angry”. Some of these people have entered into therapy to resolve feelings of anger and learn coping strategies to handle the feelings. Many find feeling angry uncomfortable or upsetting especially when the reason for the anger feels ambiguous. Also, the concept of anger has been deemed “bad” by society in general. Anger is a normal human emotion and, when expressed in a healthy manner, can be used to help us feel safe, motivated, and can be a catalyst for change.
Justified anger has led to positive change in the confrontation of inequality as well as the protection of self and others. However, unhealthy anger can become destructive if not expressed in a positive way. At times, anger can be unleashed in the forms of mistreatment of self, others, and property. Yelling and name calling is common with maladaptive anger. Unexpressed anger which is bottled up within us can lead to physical issues such as headache, increased blood pressure, and decreased immunity to illness. At times, one may lash out and destroy property such as in punching walls or kicking doors. Harm to self and others may occur when anger is released in explosive manners.
There are healthy ways to express anger. Confiding in a friend, working out, and working toward productive change in the world are examples of the positive release of anger. There are other ways to effectively discharge these sometimes intense feelings. Such healthy expressions of anger include:
- Deep and slow breathing
- Visualization of a peaceful and calm setting
- Taking space away from the situation that is leading to feelings of anger and revisiting the issue at another time
- Voicing the frustration in a productive manner
- Reframing the situation in a positive and constructive manner
- Talking with a mental health professional
The avoidance of anger because of societal expectations and upbringing can lead to maladaptive methods of the release of emotions. By using healthy coping skills to express this natural human emotion, one can find more peace as well as the potential for encouraging change. Anger is not a “bad” emotion. Anger is part of being human and it can be used in a productive and meaningful way.