Anger, like all other emotions, is not necessarily toxic, it is simply a part of our makeup as humans in a world that is often filled with challenging events (Kolts & Gilbert, 2012).
We can think of anger as an emotion that signals to humans that a choice needs to be made: a choice between standing up for what is unfair or accepting what is not in our best interests to fight for. Learning how to carry both of these out with dignity and quiet strength is not easy.
It is perhaps easier to fall into patterns of surrender or overcompensation with anger (Leahy & Tirch, 2008). What might this look like?
- Anger gets pushed away on every occasion: it then turns into numbness, anxiety or depression.
- Anger turns into aggression: you can quite easily stand up for yourself but go about it in a way that loses the respect of others.
- Anger has an addictive and repetitious quality because it helps you to feel a power you don’t feel in other facets of your life. You may feel anger here when you are in fact primarily feeling fear or sadness.
- You hold beliefs that anger is dangerous and cannot be controlled, so instead you think and ruminate your way through anger: this makes your experience of anger linger for long periods of time.
If you relate to any of the above and want that pattern to change, seeing a clinical psychologist may help as a place to start. You can potentially learn how to react differently, or gain insight into how such patterns developed. It may be possible to form a healthier relationship with anger when it inevitably emerges throughout life.
Kolts, R.L., Gilbert P. (2012). The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger. New Harbinger.
Leahy, R.L., Tirch, D. (2008). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for jealousy. International journal for cognitive therapy, 1, 18-32.