March: Can Anger Be Healthy?
Every day, we feel and observe a plethora of different emotions; happiness, sadness, anticipation, jealousy, fearfulness, etc. Each of these internal feelings helps guide us through our experiences, reactions, and life. Anger is one of these feelings that we need for our survival and healthy functioning. However, how we relate to and express our anger can become problematic.
When we speak about anger, we tend to conjure up images of someone becoming red in the face, shouting, and maybe even acting out violently. This may happen because we can get hijacked by certain emotions. However, it’s important to note that anger can be one of two things – it can be destructive or it can be constructive.
Your anger exists in you as an emotion because it offers an evolutionary advantage. When we talk about anger, we unfortunately sometimes talk about how to stop getting angry, to relax, to calm down or even to “let it go” making us feel as though it’s wrong to feel anger. But just as the feeling of being thirsty indicates to us that we need to drink water, our anger is telling us to take action and reveals our boundaries and our needs that aren’t being met; an injustice or something unfair is happening; the need to defend ourselves; and our goals are being thwarted – it’s a healthy emotion to have.
Anger is healthy, but how we express it may not always be. For example, if someone is stepping on your toes, you could act out in a fit of rage and hit them in the face (explosive anger). You could also say nothing and continue to suffer in silence (passive/suppressive anger). Or you could be assertive and ask them to kindly remove their foot because it’s causing you a discomfort/pain (healthy anger).
- It means observing and experiencing anger without being overwhelmed by it and reacting to it.
- It means recognizing our anger as a signal to explore the feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations that precede it.
- It means viewing anger as a signal to direct our attention inward to identify our core desires, needs, and values.
- It calls for developing self-compassion, which includes skills to enhance our sense of safety and connection.
- It includes developing strategies to let go of anger, which may include forgiving others and yourself.
- It encompasses compassionate practices that don’t cause suffering for others or for yourself.
- It means learning how to communicate assertively with others.
- It enhances our resilience and overall well-being.
By working on cultivating the practice of healthy anger, we benefit ourselves and others. We can be more genuine and happy in our relationships. It increases understanding, mindfulness, self-compassion, self-awareness and ultimately leads to a healthier lifestyle.On that note, we are happy to announce that starting March 16th, we will be offering our 8 week anger management program “Get a Grip” created by our director Paula Lorimer. If you’d like to work on how to learn to better manage your anger in a healthy way, call our clinical coordinator Emilie Magaud to get more information at 514-907-8800.
Émilie Rose Casey