Why Anger May Not Be ‘All Bad’
Anger is a powerful emotion that people perceive as negative or destructive. Everyone has asked themselves at least once, “Is it possible for anger ever to be beneficial?” When you think of anger, you might think of shouting, screaming, or violent displays of emotion. But what if anger isn’t all bad?
“Your anger is the part of you that knows your mistreatment and abuse are unacceptable. Your anger knows you deserve to be treated well and with kindness. Your anger is a part of you that loves you” - Lyndsey Gallant.
Anger can be a valuable and adaptive emotion that protects, reveals and motivates. You can also harness anger for personal growth, improved relationships and well-being.
Here are some of the positive effects of anger.
Anger Can Motivate You
A recent Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study shows that anger may help you achieve your goals. In the study, 223 university students were divided into groups by emotions like desire, amusement and anger. The researchers used pictures to elicit these emotions in students then asked them to complete different tasks. The results show that angry students finished 39% more puzzles than neutral students. They were also more persistent in trying to solve the puzzle.
Ultimately, the study shows that when you embrace your anger as a potentially useful emotion, you can use it to persist in making a change in your life or solving a problem. This speaks to one of anger's most significant positive effects as a powerful motivator. When you feel angry, you feel a strong urge to take action and address the situation. This can lead to increased productivity, creativity, and innovation.
Anger Can Help You Fight For What Is Right
Anger can play a crucial role in promoting justice and morality. Righteous indignation can motivate individuals to challenge unethical behavior and fight for what they believe is right. If you think of social activists and how they channel their anger into campaigns for justice and equity, anger can lead to positive change.
Anger can also bring people together and foster a sense of unity and solidarity. When individuals share a common goal or grievance, anger can create a sense of camaraderie and purpose. This can lead to stronger social connections and a greater sense of belonging. In this way, anger facilitates open and honest communication, enabling individuals to express their true feelings and concerns.
Anger Can Reveal Where You Need to Heal
Anger can be a transformative force for personal growth and self-awareness. When you examine the root causes of your anger, you may discover underlying issues or unresolved conflicts that need attention. Maybe you feel slighted by a co-worker or feel your partner could be kinder with their words in arguments. When you feel angry at someone’s actions, it shows you where you need to resolve conflict.
Although there are many reasons why you can get angry, one lesser-known reason for anger is depression. Considering that 16.2 million adults in America experience at least one major depressive episode in a year, it's essential to examine your feelings so you can solve the problem or heal from situations that have hurt you.
For people with depression, negative bias may cause you to overlook the positive and recall events in a negative light, which can make you feel angry. If you feel sensitive to criticism, are critical or angry at yourself, irritable, and have a short temper, your anger could be trying to tell you that you need to sit with your emotions and learn how to cope with depression and anger.
Anger Can Help You Set Boundaries
Anger can empower you by giving you the confidence and assertiveness to express your needs in relationships and stand up for yourself. When you feel angry, you are less likely to tolerate mistreatment or disrespect and more likely to speak out against injustices. This can push you to improve your communication skills, set healthy boundaries, and learn conflict resolution.
Maybe you work from home and your partner or roommate tends to knock and interrupt you during an important project. It may make you feel like they don’t respect your work space and think working from home means you can drop what you’re doing and pay attention. You could either express feeling disrespected with short, blunt answers to dissuade them from the conversation or use your anger to help set a boundary around your workspace.
Maybe they have the misconception that working from home isn’t as serious. You can ask them for a quick chat and let them know you would appreciate if they could respect your working space and wait until you’re on a break or finished with your work day to talk.
Anger Can Improve Relationships
When people understand that anger can sometimes be a shield for other difficult emotions like grief or sadness, they can make space to understand each other. This can help improve how you communicate and solve relational problems.
Think about Riley in the Disney Movie Inside Out. When they get to their new home in San Fransisco, anger and the other emotions are disappointed about the new home. Joy tries to lighten it by suggesting they decorate, but the moving van is delayed, infuriating Anger even more. While all this is happening, Sadness begins to touch Riley’s memories of her previous home and Anger gets annoyed.
When Joy and Sadness are sucked into the memory, Anger, Disgust and Fear try to fix things, which only makes Riley feel worse. Anger suggests they run away since Riley’s happy memories are back in Minnesota. Before she runs away, Joy and Sadness return and the emotions realize that it’s important for Riley to feel sad over moving away from the only home she knew. So she tells her parents how she feels and they reassure her.
Anger's role in the story is an advocate. He wants to ensure all things are fair for Riley and he blows up when they aren’t. In the end, Anger realizes that they all wanted Riley to be happy but she needs to go through every emotion while she navigates her new life and home.
The movie explains how emotions can work together and how kids may express themselves through anger when afraid or sad. When parents create safe spaces for children to feel and express their emotions, they can better help them self-regulate and deal with big feelings like anger.
Anger Can Help You Relieve Stress
Anger can help you make sense of the world around you and serves as a safety valve for stress and frustration. When you feel angry, you may engage in physical activity, such as exercising or punching a pillow, which can help release pent-up energy and reduce stress. These movements can also help you remember that anger is energy and doesn’t have to control your actions.
It’s why rage rooms are so popular. When you release anger in a safe way, you provide relief, like scratching an itch. Channeling your anger into physical activity feels like reclaiming your emotions and can empower you to deal with the situation with a new perspective.
Anger Is Not All Bad
While anger is often perceived as a negative emotion, it has many positive effects. Anger can motivate you to take action, empower you to assert yourself, foster social connection, promote personal growth, inspire creativity and advance justice and morality. Individuals can benefit greatly from this powerful emotion by learning to manage anger effectively and channel it into positive actions.
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