Nobody wants to feel angry, right? We learn to use all these anger management skills in order to prevent ourselves from getting out of control. On the other hand, anger is an acceptable emotion and better to feel angry than sad, right? This puts us in a bit of a bind. It’s ok to feel angry instead of sad, but we don’t want to feel either.
The problem with not feeling emotions is they all have a purpose. If you haven’t read my blog Emotions: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly read that upon completion of this blog. It’s a great blog discussing the importance of feeling emotions.
Unfortunately, when we don’t want to feel a certain emotion, we tend to push it down, try to forget about it, or try to ignore it. This never works well.
The downsides to not feeling emotions is they will creep up again. Sometimes at very unhelpful times. Furthermore, the more we ignore these emotions, the less likely we are to be able to handle them appropriately when they do come up.
Not only does pushing emotions away make them harder to deal with when they do pop up, but we also start to believe certain things about ourselves “I’m strong and don’t cry.” “I can handle anything without support.” These beliefs end up being more of a hindrance than a help to us in the long run.
Perhaps you used to feel emotions such as anger or sadness, but your job told you to push away feelings (this is not uncommon with first responders as emotions can get in the way of effectively handling a crisis).
Or maybe you cried as a child and your family told you to stop crying or “grow up.” You learned that feeling sad is a bad thing and you’ll get reprimanded for it.
So, you pushed the emotions down; ignored them.
At the time, it might have felt good to be able to push emotions aside. You fit in better. You believe you are more competent at your job. People look up to you and respect you for always keeping a level head.
You were no longer told you were a cry-baby.
Unfortunately, all this did was reinforce the thought that pushing emotions away is good. Pushing anger and sadness away just has a rebound effect that will make it 10 times harder to deal with later.
Eventually, you figured this out and are currently in a place where you feel completely defeated and worthless. You feel unproductive at work and home, which in turn leads to feeling weak and the belief that something is wrong with you. You can’t handle little things in life anymore.
This has been eating away at you for a long time now. The more you push the feelings aside, the worse you actually feel.
The truth is, you are normal. Whenever we push something away, it has a rebound effect. You are not weak for doing what you needed to at work. Nor are you weak for wanting to please your family. Having this rebound effect now is also not a weakness.
It’s true that you are terrified of losing control of yourself. However, once we understand the purpose of anger, we can start to regain control over these emotions and our minds. When we understand these reasons, it is entirely possible to start to feel normal again relatively quickly. It is entirely possible to regain control over ourselves and our minds, living life on our terms, and feeling competent and capable.
Keep reading to learn 3 reasons why anger is not a bad thing
YOU HAVE BEEN PUSHING DOWN THE EMOTIONS FOR SO LONG. NOW YOU DREAD GOING TO WORK AND FIGHT WITH YOURSELF DAILY ABOUT FEELING WEAK; WONDERING WHETHER YOU ARE A FAILURE
The biggest downside of continuing to push down emotions is losing everything. When you push down emotions for long enough, they come back with a horrible rebound effect. All it takes is one instance of losing control to lose everything you have whether you end up in jail, divorced, or dead.
At the very least, your family feels your pain along with you. You are not fighting this battle alone, despite what you believe and hope. They know you are not yourself. They know things have changed. They see your distress. You feel powerless to your emotions and thus the resulting behaviors. They are not blind to this.
You can’t help but feel defeated by this at some point. You’ve done a great job for a long time, but what you’ve been doing just isn’t working anymore. In fact, things seem to be getting worse, not better at this point.
HOW GREAT WILL IT BE TO ENJOY GOING TO WORK; TO FEEL PRODUCTIVE AND EFFECTIVE AGAIN?
Although you worry that something is wrong with you, you have the potential to feel confident and useful again. Knowledge can give us a great deal of power. With knowledge comes the ability to figure problems out and overcome the problem.
You have the opportunity to make a choice and pick up the pieces of your life. You can make a few changes based on understanding anger which will give you the confidence to pull your life back the way you want it to go.
3 REASONS ANGER IS NOT A BAD THING
I know you may still be wondering how anger is not always bad. You may be confused about how knowledge of anger will provide you with the confidence to pull your life back.
The fact is, all emotions have a purpose and all emotions can be either useful or not in a particular situation. Anger is no different. The key is understanding anger’s purpose and what to do with the anger you feel.
Using anger and other emotions in a positive, healthy way is not as difficult as you may think. It takes a bit of getting used to, but like everything else, the more you practice, the better you get at it.
Check out these 3 reasons why anger is not a bad thing
1. Anger can fuel change/it is motivating
When we think something is unjust or unfair, we get angry about it, right? When we feel our rights are violated, we want to do something about it. Anger is a great motivating force to change.
Anger to fuel change can be done in several ways, both violently and non-violently. I strongly encourage the non-violent ways, but I am simply pointing out that anger as a change agent can be done both violently and non-violently.
When we feel violated or feel something is unjust, it is a great idea to then take a step back, look at the situation from an outsider’s viewpoint, and then decide what action to take. After deciding on an action, sleep on it before initiating the action. This way you are sure that the action you want to take is going to help the situation and not hurt you more in the end.
2. Anger alerts us that something that is wrong
When we feel strong emotions (anger, fear, excitement), the same physiological response happens in the body – all of the bodily systems that are not needed for survival shut down and only those needed for survival continue to work…overtime. You may be asking, isn’t this fight/flight? Yes, it is.
Fight/flight is a physiological response that happens when the brain perceives something dangerous in the immediate environment. Breathing quickens, blood flow is increased to the extremities, heart rate increases, muscles tense up, we have a difficult (or impossible) time thinking clearly, we may get tunnel vision (not seeing clearly, and especially not seeing more of our surroundings than is right in front of us).
Have you noticed these same things happen when you’re angry? How about when you are super excited? If you take the emotion and thoughts out of it, you can see that the physiological response is the same to all strong emotions.
If you are scared, you might be thinking of ways to survive. If you are angry, you might be thinking of how you were just wronged. If you are excited, you might be thinking about that situation. But in all cases, the body reacted the same.
If we feel angry, the survival part of the brain (amygdala) has noticed a threat, but the part of the brain that surveys the environment (hippocampus) noticed no immediate threat to your life. If the hippocampus sees an immediate threat to your life, you’d feel intense fear, not intense anger.
If you feel angry because something is wrong (you were treated unfairly, somebody said something offensive, etc), it is a great idea to take a step back and ask yourself where this thought is coming from. Most of the time our beliefs come from our childhood. Those are very deep seeded beliefs that can take a lot of time and effort to change (if you want to change them).
Once you know the feeling (anger) and where the thought came from, you will be able to make a more balanced, thought out response that will feel right to you versus immediately acting on that anger and later regretting it.
3. It helps us get our needs met
Whether or not you want to admit it, anger is a great tool for getting our needs met. When a person is angry, often others are uncomfortable with that anger and will placate you. I am not saying this is good or bad, it just is.
That being said, we can show the anger to get our needs met in many ways. Think about the parent who gets quiet when they get angry. The kid knows they pushed too far, but the parent didn’t scream or throw things.
Tone of voice is a huge indicator in whether someone is angry. Additionally, body language can tell us a lot of someone’s emotional state. Put tone of voice and body language together, and one has a pretty good indication of someone’s emotion.
If someone’s tone of voice and body language indicate anger, the other person will respond accordingly. You can get your needs met when you’re angry without screaming and carrying on.
If you are angry and want to communicate a need, it is a great idea to take a step back and determine the best way to handle the situation. How would a friend tell you to respond? What impact are you looking for? Will this response give you that impact? Is it harmful? How will you feel tomorrow about your action today?
Anger is a useful emotion and balancing the emotions so that you feel them during appropriate times will help you feel confident and in control of yourself and your life again.
Anger is not all bad as it is a great change agent/motivator, it alerts us that something is wrong, and it can help us get our needs met.
You absolutely can regain control of yourself and your emotions without having them backfire on you or rebound.
Here at Meg Young, LCSW, PLLC, I help my clients understand the purpose of their emotions, including anger, where the thoughts behind the emotions came from, and help them create a plan of action to feel and release their emotions in a way that makes them feel in control, safe, and productive.
I stated that all emotions have a purpose several times throughout this blog, but I focused on anger and understanding three reasons why anger is not bad. If you have not yet read my blog on emotions in general: Emotions – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, now would be a great time to read that one.
You are not weak. You are not a failure. It is time for you to use the strength you have to take back control of yourself and your mind, thus allowing you to feel productive, safe, and calm.
Call me today to reclaim your strength and confidence. 941-462-4807.