Can Anger be a Gift?
Can Anger be a Gift?
04/21/14 James Winston
Many people are very uncomfortable with their anger and perhaps they have grown up with certain experiences which shape how they express and think about anger. Anger can become a useful tool to assist you in your life. Since we all have and experienced anger, it also becomes more of a question of how we express ourselves with anger and how we use it to change and better our life. Many of us grow up in families where anger is not modeled for us in healthy ways to know what to do and how to handle it in a positive fashion.
Since anger is usually an intense feeling, it can get you more in touch with yourself. Although granted, it can be confusing at first as to what may be causing the anger or more likely why something upsets us so much. Using the intensity can be good in that we may try to look deeper into the causes for the anger reaction. An example is simply asking yourself when you feel angry, “What do I fear?” It may not be a fear of being harmed or hurt, it may be fearing that your needs or control of what you want being threatened or denied. Figuring this out can be helpful in changing our cognitions, and often if we seek out a cognitive behavioral therapist, we can learn what irrational thoughts are present and find ways to respond differently.
Anger can be helpful in noticing what triggers us and what patterns seem to be evident in our life. Oftentimes, just knowing that early experiences with anger have taught us how to respond in a certain way gives us the freedom to change our response. An example would be if you grew up with a family member who treated you unfairly, and now you currently notice that when people in your life treat you a certain way you respond with the same behavior as you did to the family member. By responding to this person in a totally different manner may change your perception about them. Keeping a diary card of your anger episodes can sometimes help you identify common patterns that have been learned.
Anger can affect change in your environment and help you become instrumental in connecting with others who support your issue. At times we feel angry, and at the same time unconnected to people. If you find a positive way to express your anger, it may affect change and gain support for an issue that you may have thought was unique to you. Many people have taken political action and connected with others to bring about change with their anger. Mothers against Drunk Drivers are an example that resulted in legislation that has changed people’s perception about the use of alcohol. By listening to your anger and finding others who can validate your response can be very soothing to someone who feels no hope for a problem. Validation is the act of understanding a person’s perspective. You may not agree with the perspective, but to understand the person’s perspective can feel healthy as you stop the judgment you may have about your anger that could cause increased frustration and intensity.
Take a look at your anger and see if you find a different meaning.