How Anger Can Hurt, But Also Heal Your Life

By Georgia

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Last Updated: September 3, 2021

Anger can seem like a simple feeling.

Intense frustration builds up in your brain, chest or stomach and bursts out through your body.

But anger hides a whole host of unpleasant emotions that we have all felt at one point or another. It can feel impossible to deal with another person's anger, be it seething passive aggression, chaotic outright attacks, or a verbal tirade.

It is natural to feel afraid of someone's fits of rage, or cower from threats or physical assault.

These more extreme examples of anger are totally unacceptable and deserve professional and legal intervention. But at the very least we need to protect ourselves from anyone who is emotionally or physically unsafe. 

 

What Lies Beneath Anger? 

Anger is more than feeling upset.

Dig a little deeper into anger and you'll likely find:

  • pain
  • trauma
  • insecurity
  • anxiety
  • feelings of failure

Some people display anger as part of a personality or mental health disorder.

Others have learned to use is it as a means to control others and the world around them. Because anger is easy to access within ourselves and a clear outward sign of displeasure, we often use anger to communicate when it is inappropriate or muddles the message.

Anger is an intense emotion you feel when something has gone wrong or someone has wronged you. It is typically characterized by feelings of stress, frustration, and irritation. Everyone feels anger from time to time. It’s a perfectly normal response to frustrating or difficult situations. - Verywellmind.com

Anger can hide many emotions:

  • hurt
  • embarrassment
  • shame
  • guilt
  • anxiety and fear
  • confusion
  • disgust
  • panic
  • vulnerability
  • sadness
  • disappointment

This applies to feelings of insecurity, inferiority, incompleteness or being damaged, as well. It can also be a response to more complex experiences, like feeling dismissed, disrespected, or losing control, choice or autonomy in your life.

Anger can additionally emerge in response to physical stimuli, like pain, suffering, weakness, fatigue, instability, and more.

 Read this next: Why Letting Go of Toxic People Will keep You Sane 

Excessive Anger

Feelings of anger are natural, and under normal circumstances anger is a healthy reaction.

Excessive anger, however, indicates a problem and can become toxic to the person feeling it and the target of their attacks.

The chronic stress of experiencing excessive anger, or dealing with someone else's, can have a drastic negative effect on the body and the psyche. The overlong release of stress hormones harm our internal organs and can change the structure and function of our brains.

A person's ability to reason, think critically, judge appropriately, predict consequences, communicate clearly, and maintain emotional control often lapse in a fit of anger.

Over time, the way a person thinks and feels adapts to constant frustration and the threshold over which anger bubbles up plummets.

Soon anger becomes not only the default response to any situation. It devolves into a personality trait and is constantly present, despite having potentially pleasant experiences.

 

Appropriate Anger

Anger can harm relationships, opportunities and people.

However, sometimes anger is the correct emotion to have and can teach you to value and believe in yourself.

Sometimes, you have to get angry to get things done. - Ang Lee, Film Director

Righteous anger is necessary to defend your honor and right to happiness in the face of a toxic family, partner or community.

When those around you try to break your spirit, crush your self-esteem, and wither your self-worth, use anger to fight for the life you deserve.

You don't need to scream or slander anyone when they attempt to manipulate you with guilt or shame, or gaslight you into being the selfish or evil person in the situation.

Don't let anyone scapegoat you into being the problem when you are not.

You can stand up for yourself, demand consideration, compassion and respect, establish and enforce boundaries, and express your wants and needs, along with consequences for failing to live by your rules.

Reduce or eliminate contact with anyone who doesn't like having to treat you well.

 

Unfair Double Standards

Men unfortunately often feel they have fewer socially acceptable emotions to choose from, and so are more inclined to express a wide range of negative feelings as anger.

Conversely, women's anger is often dismissed as hormonal or petty, and devalued as not worthy of consideration or seriousness.

Adult anger is more highly valued than that of minors, often delegitimizing the cause of adolescent and teen anger, leaving it unexamined.

The anger of those living in privilege is also often dismissed even if the content of the complaint is legitimate and would be taken seriously if presented by a person of lesser means.

Not All Anger is The Same 

Anger gets a bad wrap and is blamed for a lot of pain and destruction in the lives of those who use it as a crutch or tool of abuse.

It can explain behavior but never justify it. In the end, anger can help destroy a person's world or rebuild a broken life.

Do what you can to understand it, respect it for what it is, and utilize it in ways that can help instead of hurt.

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

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