Does your Anger get a bad rap?
Are all emotions beneficial? Of all the emotions, anger seems to receive the worst rap, possibly because it is the most passionate of all the emotions. To that end, it is also the most dangerous as its purpose (and our ancestors can attest to this) was to destroy barriers. When 9-11 occurred, the President showed anger for the entire nation to see. Thus, we were letting others know that the United States was strong and motivated to act. Anger may be a soft noticeable bell that we sometimes call “irritability.” Around a certain person or in a particular situation you notice that you feel irritated, a bit out of sorts, and you’re not exactly sure why. Anger can also be a loud alarm signaling the importance of needs going unmet. Recognizing anger early is a good way to manage your life and your relationships before the soft bell becomes a loud alarm.
Not yet convinced that Anger is a good emotion? Here are 5 reasons why anger is an emotion worth listening to:
1)Anger emotion as arousal.
As your anger is rising, you notice a series of physical changes like increased tension in your muscles, increased heart rate, or changes in your breathing. Each of these changes is caused by your body’s gearing up to protect itself as you perceive a situation as somehow threatening. Learning to identify and understand these changes as they are beginning is a major theme in managing anger.
2) Anger as a productive emotion.
Anger is productive when it energizes vigor, strength and endurance. When circumstances change from what they should not be (injustice) to what they should be (justice), anger fades away.
3) Anger as a coping function.
From a functional point of view, emotions evolved because it helped animals deal with life tasks (explore their surroundings, attend to emergencies). Anger for example, will ready the body for attack. The function is to prepare us for an automatic, quick historically successful response to life’s events.
4) Anger as a social function.
When one shows anger, it can be a social deterrent. Some will bare their teeth; or they will posture to show others, “Hey, you need to back off.” And people will respond.
5) Anger as conflict resolution.
By confronting the problems you face in an assertive (rather than aggressive) way, you can successfully minimize conflict, calm passions and resolve issues as they arise. Sounds great right? Successfully communicating anger involves much self-awareness. You cannot successfully state your thoughts, feelings and needs if you have not taken the time to define them.
Harriet Lerner said, “Anger is a signal worth listening to.” Although many of us feel anger is the root cause of unhappy relationships, it is not the conflict itself that is the problem, but rather how we handle it. Venting anger constructively can do wonders to “clear the air” and can take you from a so-so communicator to a successful communicator.