In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading a very interesting book about anger: Anger, Rage and Relationship by Sue Parker Hall. The author has an easy way to explain complex ideas related to anger. She insists on the positive qualities of anger. Being a firm believer in the necessity of feeling and processing anger in a healthy way, her words have deeply resonated with me and inspired this post.
First, she makes a difference between anger and rage. She defines anger as a pure emotion characterized by a medium state of arousal and always related to the here-and-now. It is proportionate and expressed in a respectful way for a positive purpose. Rage is a defence mechanism that is created when the environment fails to support an individual’s physical or emotional needs. It is rage that will normally propel people to look for help with anger issues. These are the positive qualities of anger:
- Anger helps you to grieve – In the Kubler-Ross model that states the different stages of grief, anger is present. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Any loss in your life will make you feel angry. It is part of the process, so feel the anger and rest assured, it will not last. If it turns into rage, look for help with anger issues.
- Anger is an antidote to depression – Anger is a positive emotion that is letting us know that something is not right and something needs to get done about it. If it is left unprocessed, it may become rage or things are left undone, certain illnesses can ensue, including depression. Processing our anger and feeling supported to take action in our lives is one of the tasks of in-depth psychotherapy. Learning how to do this can be a life-changing experience into a more fulfilled life.
- Anger helps you keep your boundaries – If we are not able to identify and keep emotional boundaries, we can end up in dysfunctional, co-dependent relationships. In co-dependency, the self is abandoned on behalf of another. It is as if you have abandoned yourself and you will constantly feel abandoned or be afraid of being abandoned. If you are able to keep good emotional boundaries using your anger, you will be able to look after yourself, and you will be and feel looked after.
Anger is always a raw emotion that helps you to look after yourself. Observe this emotion and see what it is trying to tell you. Look for the action that you need to take and act consequently. If you frequently having outbursts of anger (rage), it may be necessary to see a counsellor or psychotherapist who will be able to navigate through your complex emotions and help you with anger issues.