Emerge Therapy

Does anger get a bad press?

General

As an anger management specialist I frequently scan the web for articles relating to anger and rage. I often come across articles and quotes that talk about the bad outcomes that can occur when anger is mishandled, undirected or used to foster violence and hate. Believe me I know from my work and personal experience what a dangerous emotion anger can be. But I also get frustrated by a sense of anger being demonised as the bad boy of emotions. If you believe the press you may get the idea that anger is inherently bad; an unwanted emotion that needs suppressing or hiding. In fact I believe the opposite to be true.

Anger is one of a small number of emotions that psychologists refer to as primary emotions. In short this means that anger is a natural human emotion that is felt by people from all races and cultures. In fact I believe that anger plays an important role in our development as a species, and in particular to our ability to stay safe and maintain good self care.


Anger is linked to our bodies fight or flight response. It is part of the way in which humans are programmed to deal with an impending threat. When we sense imminent danger our bodies control system moves from the prefrontal cortex to the amygdala.This allows us to react quickly without thinking but also means we may momentarily lose some of our rational capacity. This can lead to the sense of feeling blank or out of control when we are really angry. At the same time our body is flooded with adrenaline which acts like a turbo boost giving us a surge of power to run or fight. It is this surge of hormones that may make us feel hot and tense when we are angry and may leave us feeling shaky as the anger subsides.


Fortunately most of us no longer live in an environment where we face daily threats to our existence. However anger can still play a vital role in helping us get our needs met, in standing up for our rights and fighting injustice. Anger now becomes that internal signal that something in our environment is not as it should be – a sign that our emotional boundaries have been crossed and most importantly a call to action. To quote Julia Cameron “anger is not meant to be acted out, it is meant to be acted upon.


The challenge we face is what to do with our anger. Unfortunately the choice for many seems to be to explode with aggression or to bottle it up, burying it deep inside where it festers away leading to resentment and frustration. Fortunately there is another way. In my work with clients I help people to understand the positive role that anger might be playing for them, identify what needs to be changed and find positive and assertive ways to express this powerful emotion. Once clients learn to focus their anger on making positive change they report feeling happier and more confident which in turn leads to them building better relationships with those around them.

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As an anger management specialist I frequently scan the web for articles relating to anger and rage. I often come across articles and quotes that talk about the bad outcomes that can occur when anger is mishandled, undirected or used to foster violence and hate.

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