The benefits of anger: how to get angry right
Man among people
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle attributed anger to virtues. In his work, “Nikomakh’s Ethics,” it says: “He who is angry at a just cause and at those who deserve it, and, moreover, how it should be, when it should and how much follows, is worthy of praise.”
But Aristotle did not have to live in our days, when articles about the connection of anger and heart disease flashed everywhere.
He did not see David Banner (note: a character from the Marvel Comics universe) turning into a giant green monster, nicknamed the Hulk, if he gets angry. Aristotle did not know what it would be like to be on the fast track side by side with aggressive drivers.
Today, many consider anger a negative and completely meaningless emotion. According to a survey on this topic, 28% of participants said that getting angry is unacceptable, because anger is harmful or useless. We hardly like ourselves when we are angry, and certainly not happy to be among angry people.
Nevertheless, Aristotle is right. Anger can be beneficial, primarily because it protects us ourselves, our relationships and our view of the world. In the endless confrontation between “right” and “wrong”, bodily manifestations of anger serve to make us understand that something is going wrong.
Try to imagine anger as a policeman who travels to a crime scene
We live in a world of goals and expectations. Some are purely personal: let’s say we expect to advance in service or hope that loved ones will not forget about our birthday. Others are dictated by social standards: we believe that everyone should patiently wait for their turn to the bank office.
When someone or something goes against our expectations or impedes the achievement of goals, we get angry. Try to imagine the anger in the image of a policeman who travels to the crime scene. He makes a remark, writes out a protocol and says: “This is impossible! It is forbidden!”
This guy is always on the alert. Because it’s impossible not to be angry at all.
When our internal policeman appears for legitimate reasons and responds correctly to the situation, he is beneficial. If he stops the intruder and explains to him how such problems are solved, the emotion works fine. On the other hand, if he is an unbalanced type who, just a little, shoots to kill, or a cowardly newcomer who does not know how to handle weapons, he begins to harm.
How to deal with anger
To determine in which cases anger is useful, it is necessary to consider this emotion from all sides: why we are angry and how we behave in this state. Suppose you are angry that you spent an hour with dirty dishes, while your spouse calmly sat in front of the TV. You are outraged, because you also do not mind watching TV and did not wait for help with the housework.
The more you think about it, the more you become convinced that you are quite rightly angry. You boil, blood pulsates in the temples, wet hands clench into fists. What will you do? There are three ways to express anger: drive it in, splash it out or control it.
The first option: fly into the living room, plop down on a sofa with a stone face and stubbornly refuse to explain to your spouse what happened. There is nothing good in this way of expressing anger.
The second option: to break into the living room and start throwing freshly washed plates on the floor. This scenario will not benefit either you or the dishes.
But there is a third option: go in calmly and explain what makes you angry and how to fix it. Then you will turn anger to your own good. Study participants described controlled anger as a state of insight. It helps to see the strengths and weaknesses of each other. Angry, you can change a lot in a relationship.
If you choose the third method and control your anger, the statistics of heart attacks and early deaths will lose value. On the contrary, the first way, when anger is driven inside, can lead to depression. Studies note that women who constantly suppress anger are three times more likely to die prematurely than those who do not.
The second scenario, where violence and aggression are involved, is dangerous for the relationship. A third way of expressing anger is good for us and for relationships. The state itself says that something is not right, and if we want to stay with this person, it is better to understand the situation. It will really benefit both.
A study at the University of Michigan Psychology and Social Hygiene Department found that couples who can express anger productively live longer than those who try to suppress it. But what to do if the business has taken such an unfavorable turn that it is impossible to talk heart to heart?
Anger and control
Anger is considered an extremely negative emotion, mainly because we cannot always control it. Some theorists believe that anger has a “utility scale.”
But perhaps it’s worth going beyond theory and thinking how to make it useful. For example, you lose your temper when cars sweep through an intersection without even slowing down. You would like drivers to pay attention to children who cross the road and ride bicycles.
You can scream and honk, trying to stop the trespassers, but standing all day at the transition, watching the reckless people and waving your arms is far from the best way to control anger.
It is much more effective to contact your local traffic police department and request that restrictive signs or traffic lights be installed in a hazardous area. This is the simplest example of how anger can lead to positive changes in society.
There are other global examples: the civil rights movement or the movement to give women suffrage. By initiating change, you regain control of the situation.
The bodily reaction of anger is very similar to the reaction of fear. The body produces the same chemicals in order to prepare for an action called “hit or run.” But if we decide to accept the challenge, anger is definitely stronger than fear.
Carnegie Mellon University psychologist Jennifer Lerner argues that in a stressful situation, anger is more productive than fear, because it gives you a sense of control and inspires optimism. During the experiment, experts analyzed the facial expressions of the participants, noting the manifestations of both emotions.
Those who more often felt fear had increased blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. Another study by the same psychologist found that those who responded to the September 11 attack with anger rather than fear were more optimistic and soberly assessed the risk of such attacks in the near future.
Perhaps some thought that these people had lost the ability to think that rage had clouded their brain. Anger really changes thinking, but, according to recent research, it changes for the better. An experiment at the University of California, Santa Barbara, made it easier for angry people to distinguish between strong and weak arguments. Those who were not angry could be convinced by any reason. It turns out that anger helps to focus on the important and make an informed decision.
What to do if anger is directed at yourself
Anger is not in vain associated with flame: it also goes out without fuel. Unrestrained anger, like flame, grows and leads to monstrous destruction and sacrifice. But anger, like flame, can be noticed in time, tamed and turned into an assistant.
The fuel that feeds anger comes from a variety of sources: problems at home or at work, the imperfection of the world, our own inability to cope with difficulties. Interestingly, one of the largest fuel resources for anger is self-sabotage, our actions, sometimes involuntary, that support this condition. Do we really want to get angry?
Anger is an extremely powerful and somewhere insidious emotion, especially for those who try to seem strong, cold-blooded and balanced. For those who lack joy or pleasure, the excitement caused by anger often becomes one of the most vivid sensations in life. It seems they prefer to feel bad than not feel anything.
Another form of self-sabotage is to turn anger against oneself, moreover in the physical sense
It turns out that we ourselves are gradually kindling the flames of our anger. How? One way is to seek communication with other angry people. They are everywhere, just go online or take a walk around the area.
You can easily find gangs, forums, and hate groups that welcome anger in every way. Want to throw out your anger? Join us, you are one of us.
Another form of self-sabotage is to turn anger against oneself, moreover in the physical sense.
Sometimes this manifests itself in ordinary, culturally acceptable habits, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, sometimes worse – anger spills out into a drug addiction or a tendency to self-harm. Some stop paying attention to personal hygiene or eat without measure and drive themselves into obesity.
Some stop taking life-saving medications or drive a lick.
There is an excuse for each type of behavior, but in reality they all feed on the desire to maintain inner anger, although we are not fully aware of this. The more we are drawn into such habits, the less attractive we are to others.
Accordingly, we are increasingly angry with others for being criticized, harassed and misunderstood!
The third sign of self-sabotage is a way of getting into trouble and, again, shifting blame onto others. Sometimes we enter into a relationship based on personal ideas of what a partner should be, or we get a job under the influence of fantasies about ghostly prospects. Sometimes we take on a project, not taking into account either our own skills or probable costs.
The cycle of anger can be stopped. Instead of frustrating yourself or others, it’s worth trying to express thoughts and feelings differently
In any of the above cases, we doom ourselves to failure. However, having failed, we violently blame the partner, the boss or the whole world. We do not always recognize our anger. But if people step back or ask why we are so angry or lose our temper, it means that we need to think about our behavior. Self-sabotage destroys and hurts: if its symptoms become too noticeable, perhaps it is time to consult an anger management specialist.
The cycle of anger can be stopped. Instead of frustrating yourself or others, it’s worth trying to express thoughts and feelings differently. Learn to build relationships with people without causing pain to anyone.
You can direct anger into a constructive direction! But you can’t get angry and wait for improvements. In anger, as in everything, one must know the measure. It is important to understand why we lose our temper and how we cope with this condition. Recall Aristotle: get angry when it should, how much should and how it should.
Today, Western culture has formed the ideal of a man who is almost alien to such a feeling as anger: he is soft, polite, knows how to restrain his emotions. However, anger turns inward, on ourselves, which causes hypertension or other psychosomatic symptoms.
“You cannot put up with ordinary violence”
The assault is an obvious, but not the only form of violence that one of the spouses can suffer from, the psychotherapist Alexander Orlov is sure. Psychological violence does not inflict physical injuries, but because of this it does not cease to be cruelty.