COVID-19 Update: I have openings for tele-therapy (video or phone sessions) and would be honoured to support you during this time of uncertainty. I use a secure online video platform called OnCall Health.
Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. Like all of our emotions, there's nothing wrong with it in and of itself. It's our human response to something that occurs, or at least to our perception of the problem. In fact, some anger is good; we should get angry when we see some injustice or when someone is trying to violate our personal property lines. In such cases, our anger is what motivates us to take appropriate action. But after anger motivates us to do something good, we can't afford to let it linger inside us. We have to get it out. Anger is a good emotion when it gets us moving, but if we let it take root, we set ourselves up for a great deal of potential harm.
When it is expressed appropriately, you are letting go of the stress and frustration that you are experiencing, and those around you understand and accept that you are upset. When anger is expressed inappropriately with blame and aggression, it can be a destructive force - both to the person experiencing it and for those subjected to it.
Living with angry people is like living in a minefield. If you say or do the wrong thing, kaboom! They explode all over everyone. And you're left thinking, Oh, I had no idea that one thing I did would cause such a reaction.
As with other things that are negative, there is a tendency to hold something or someone else responsible. When you hold someone else responsible for your stress, anxiety, or frustration, you feel that you have the right to express it in an aggressive manner.
Many times we feel anger to avoid feeling some other emotions, such as anxiety or hurt, or when we are frustrated because we want something and can’t have it. Sometimes, feeling angry is a way of mobilizing ourselves in the face of a threat or is a way to protect ourselves from getting hurt.
Anger may also be a response to stressful situations, such as being in a hurry, feeling overwhelmed or overworked, feeling attacked, feeling out of control. For example, you may have been rushing all day in your home office to meet an impossible deadline. Your daughter bounces in after school and gives you a big hug as you furiously type on your computer. You snap, “Not now! Can't you see I’m busy!”
Actually, anger is a secondary emotion, not a primary feeling. It arises out of fear, frustration, hurt, or some combination of these three.
Primary feelings we feel deep down within us, such as fear, hurt, sadness, loneliness, or joy, peace, and love. Secondary feelings are surface feelings, such as anger, stress or tiredness. Secondary feelings are usually the first signals that we feel. They act as communicators giving us feedback on what is happening inside of us. They act as dials or indicators on a car dash board, where we are giving instant feedback in how the engine is feeling.
Once we begin to feel angry, there are several things we can do to stop the anger from getting out of control.
Recommended Workbook to help you get a complete grip on anger: Anger Control Workbook
(2000) Matthew McKay & Peter Rogers.