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Differences between anger and rage

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Anger, and related emotions, seem to be banned by our society. It appears that it is not good to be angry, to get angry, to be seen angry. However, we all get angry. It is a human emotion. All human emotions are useful, so anger must be useful too. Rage is also useful. They are both telling us a story, but they both tell a different story.

angerAnger and rage are teaching us about ourselves. They are trying to transmit a message that we need to hear to grow into more mature and whole human beings. Anger is teaching us about self-care. Rage is teaching us that our past needs healing.

Anger is a pure emotion. It comes to existence to protect our boundaries. Anger appears in the here-and-now and lasts for a few minutes. When self-care is threatened by a situation, anger will appear. It can be an aggressive anger or a passive anger. It can be directed to the person or the situation causing the anger or to innocent third parties. Learning how to say no, to assert your needs and to respect your boundaries is essential for your health and maturity. Anger can help you recognise when your boundaries are being trespassed.

Road rage rules with this infuriated driver shaking his fist

Road rage rules with this infuriated driver shaking his fist

Rage is a defence-mechanism used by infants when their environment does not meet their needs. It is pre-verbal, which means that it was created before one can speak. So, when you fly into a fit of rage against someone or something, you may not know the reasons behind. Rage is a disproportionate anger for the situation at hand. Rage is telling you that your needs were not met when you were a child, and you have unresolved emotions that need processing. When pure emotions are not processed in the here-and-now, they can be suppressed and later expressed in unhelpful ways. Rage is one of them.

Both anger and rage have very consistent physical bodily reactions: a twitching stomach, shallow and fast breathing, tense shoulders, a racing heart. If you become more aware of your body, you may feel these symptoms as they appear in your body, and recognise them as anger. When they are getting out of control, it is time for you to take time out from the situation you are in. Time for reflection is essential. Working with a counsellor can help you recognise your anger as it arises so that you can prevent damaging your close relationships. Counselling can also help you explore what unresolved issues may be causing your anger.

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