Karin Lawson, PsyD, CEDS-S, is a licensed Florida psychologist. She holds a certification as an eating disorder specialist and approved eating disorder supervisor as designed by IAEDP. Karin currently works with adult clients in her private practice locations, Miami and Plantation, FL. She also works as an adjunct professor and intensive supervisor at Nova Southeastern University’s doctoral program in clinical psychology. Karin shares why anger is different from other emotions in this week’s blog post.
Of all the emotions, anger is perhaps the one that most people have the hardest time experiencing and accepting. A 2017 survey of 2000 people by the Mental Health Foundation found that 28% of those surveyed were sometimes worried about the level of anger that they feel.
While feeling anger can have negative consequences, anger, in general, can move us toward a happier and healthier life.
Here are 5 ways anger is not all bad.
1. It’s Motivating
Anger is an energizing emotion. It gets our blood and adrenaline pumping. And while other emotions tend to make us withdraw from others and life, anger causes us to want to engage. It can actually help us create change. When we see something that is harming someone else, that anger is not bad. Someone needs to be angry to intervene and make it stop.
2. Anger is Complicated
Anger is not a singular experience, but rather a grouping of feelings. When we become angry, it is because we first feel something else: marginalized, hurt, disrespected, sad or neglected. In this way, anger is much more complicated than other emotions and again, not all bad. It’s protective in this way, because those others emotions tend to be more vulnerable and less energizing.
3. It Yearns to be Expressed
Other emotions can simply be felt silently, but not anger. It wants to be famous, a star, something that everyone knows about. Anger insists that it be expressed out loud. This self-expression is not bad. Somethings needs to be called out and attended to . . . as long as it’s expressed in a way that isn’t harming someone else and is effective toward creating change.
4. It Can Be Turned Inward or Outward
While we are directing and expressing that anger outwardly,sometimes we can just as easily direct it inward toward ourselves. We generally don’t even realize we are doing it until we have done emotional damage. Some professionals even speculate that some kinds of sadness is actually anger turned inward. So, be on the look-out for the stealthy anger that can be quieter and directed inward.
5. Excessive States of Anger Can Hazardous to Your Health
While anger is one of a full range of emotions that all people experience, living in chronic states of anger can have some negative impacts on health and well-being. For example, some research has suggested that individuals prone to anger are more at risk for heart attacks and cancer.
While anger can be destructive to relationships and our health, it can also energize us and lead to positive life, social and political changes, if harnessed properly. The keys to using anger in a healthy way are to become aware of it when you feel it, recognize the true cause of it and give some attention to how you want to express it, so that it’s heard clearly and effectively.
If you are having trouble dealing with feelings of anger and are interested in exploring therapy to better understand it, please contact me today. I would be happy to talk with you about how I may be able to help.