Why Your Anger is Actually Healthy
Most of us have spent our lives believing that anger is inherently bad. In our minds, it could be synonymous with violent aggression. And for some of us, the very idea of healthy anger seems silly.
We could believe (even subconsciously) that experiencing anger is due to some kind of failure on our part. We might habitually repress our anger, pushing it down deep inside ourselves and refusing to deal with it.
So… Would you be surprised to learn that anger itself is actually healthy? Let’s talk about different types of anger, the value of anger, and what it means for you.
When is Anger Healthy or Unhealthy?
Anger is a natural, healthy emotion.
Anger in itself is not negative, but the effects of repressing anger can be negative and unhealthy. For example, repressing your anger and refusing to address it (or refusing to address the cause of your anger) can quickly become toxic and harmful.
So, while anger is a natural emotion, the danger lies in how we respond to that anger. For example, it’s natural to be angry if we find ourselves in an unjust or unkind situation. However, responding to that anger by shouting, sulking, or even becoming violent is a toxic reaction.
It’s important to search out the root cause of our anger before you respond. There are four key ways to respond to anger, but only one of those ways is healthy for you and those around you.
Make sure to read: Why All Emotions Are Good Emotions
Healthy Anger Vs. Unhealthy Anger
Once again, it’s important to know that while the emotion of anger is healthy, the way we respond to it may not be healthy. Repressing anger can be unhealthy for your body, causing high blood pressure, heart strain, emotional outbursts, and compounded mental issues.
Let’s discuss the four key ways of responding to anger.
Aggression is a response we tend to associate more often with anger, and it’s the worst possible way to respond to anger. Aggression is all about violence. We might shout, hit, throw things, or try to intimidate others.
It’s worth remembering that aggression and anger don’t go hand in hand. Anger is an emotion, whereas aggression is a conscious action, and one will often occur without the other.
Aggression isn’t necessarily aimed at the real cause of your anger. For example, bad treatment at work can leave a person feeling resentful and angry. However, they may not deal with their anger at work. The feelings simmer until they get home. Then, the person’s friends and family feel the brunt of their aggression.
Aggression is a violent, destructive way of dealing with anger. This is never the right way to deal with your feelings.
Passive-aggressive ways of dealing with anger can appear when a person doesn’t feel entitled to react with aggression. Non-violent people may use passive aggression to display their displeasure, instead of communicating and working out a solution.
Sulking, silent treatment, or throwing the blame on others are all elements of passive aggression.
Passive aggression isn’t a good way to vent your feelings. It allows you to avoid dealing with your anger - and its cause. Feeling simmer, leading to long-term anger and resentment.
Suppressing anger can be dangerous. It might mean that you don’t lash out there and then, but it only postpones the problem. Not only does this mean you aren’t addressing the cause of your feelings, but it allows resentment to build up.
This can lead to passive aggression, or even reacting aggressively later on.
Suppressing emotions is never a good decision. While it’s something we might do subconsciously, it can lead to mental issues like anxiety or depression, as well as compounding any future feelings of anger.
Read this next: 3 Rituals for Moving Through Anger
The best way to handle anger is to be assertive.
This is definitely the most difficult way of dealing with anger, and it may take some practice. It involves assessing and understanding how you feel, why you feel that way, and communicating with those around you.
What to Do When You Experience Anger
Any emotion needs to be investigated, especially a powerful one like anger. Anger is your mind’s way of telling you that something is off. In some circles, anger is even used as a synonym for being hurt.
How you react to that wrongness is up to you.
Even if your natural response is to handle your anger in a negative way, try and make a conscious effort to work through your anger positively.
For example, anger can help you understand that the way you’re being treated in a particular situation is wrong. Anger can fuel you to confront the root of your feelings (in a calm and rational manner, of course) and work through a situation.
This is an expression of healthy anger and often leads to a satisfying resolution.
If you find yourself prone to fits of temper, possibly leading to aggression, it’s good to take a break before you respond to the situation that made you angry. If necessary, distance yourself from the situation and calm down first. Your anger will still be there, but it should be less aggressive and more assertive.
When is Anger Healthy?
Understanding and accepting our anger is better for our mental, physical, and emotional health. Anger can help us understand what we’re willing to tolerate, and can fuel us to confront the person or situation that has pushed past our boundaries.
Of course, the danger comes when we allow our anger to become violent and aggressive. Allowing anger to cloud our thinking (become reactive, instead of rational) can cause us to gloss over our own mistakes.
After all, just because we’re angry doesn’t mean that we’re not at fault in any way!
However, it’s important to understand that feeling anger is a sign of healthy self-esteem and firmly set boundaries. Being assertive (which is the healthiest way to work through anger) involves respectfully making your needs and boundaries clear to others. It means that you act reasonably and fairly, listening to others and taking responsibility for any mistakes you might have made.
Anger isn’t wrong.
It isn’t unhealthy either - it’s our mind and body telling us that something is wrong. Taking the time to address your healthy anger, identify the “wrongness”, and fix it or explore that! This will help you to grow as a person, creating a better version of yourself!
Related article: Breathwork to Release Anger & Frustration