Is getting angry good for your wellbeing?

Anger

What really gets your hackles up? What frustrates or even infuriates you? Injustice? A broken promise? Or is the wrong word or an insulting gesture sometimes enough? Do you remember the last time you got really angry about something? Do you know why this happened? How did you deal with this emotion?

We all know what it feels like to be angry. Anger frequently arrives at short notice and as a result we say or do things that we really never intended to. Our society has a negative view of anger. Venting your spleen is frowned upon – always being calm and composed is much better. Yet getting angry and showing these feelings openly can definitely be advantageous. In this article, you will learn what these advantages are and how to use your anger as a force for good.

Where does anger come from?

Anger is as one of our basic emotions. This not only means that we can all feel it, but also that it is known and understood across cultures and by different generations. If anger rises up within us, our bodies react with typical signals. The brain releases stress hormones, which results in increased blood pressure and quickened pulse. We start to breathe more rapidly, and our muscles tense up. Our body language unmistakably changes. In this circumstance, we send out a message that cannot be misunderstood: a boundary has been crossed and we are ready to defend ourselves.

Why should I express these feelings openly?

Anger does not feel good. What’s more, it has a bad reputation in our society. Nobody wants to be perceived as impulsive and churlish by their fellow human beings. In the ancient world, philosophers saw anger as a character flaw. There is, however, a lot to be said for making space in our lives for anger and frustration. Like all other emotions, they are part of being human.
Frustration and anger both provide us with information. Anger signals that someone else has crossed a boundary – or maybe even that you have. This emotion can therefore be used to get to know yourself better. Why do I get angry? What winds me up? Who or what triggers this emotion in me? Is something more important to me than I realised?

To obtain information from your own feelings, it’s important to be consciously aware of them and to think about them carefully. You can positively use your anger by facing it. Anger can motivate you to self-reflection, emphasise your credibility in discussions, help to set boundaries, help you to say yes or no unequivocally and, as the case may be, result in a change in circumstances. If you bottle up your anger within yourself, or simply swallow your frustration, it can not only negatively affect your health, but may also mean that the people around you have no information about your wellbeing. How can they know that something has upset you, annoyed you or absolutely infuriated you if hide your emotions from them?

Another reason for not always suppressing your frustration or anger is the overall negative effect of emotional suppression. These effects are exhibited not only when anger or frustration are suppressed, but when any emotion is suppressed. Suppressing a feeling, rather than expressing it, does not make it go away. From the outside, you might seem neutral, but on the inside, the emotion you experienced remains. The active suppression process is arduous and costs you a lot of energy. What’s more, suppressing emotions is stressful and can cause any number of illnesses (e.g., cardiovascular conditions, depression, anxiety, diabetes etc.).


«Use your anger to transform the world around you. »
- Anni Lanz -


How can I successfully manage my anger and frustration?

So that you, and above all the people around you, better understand why you are angry, it’s important for you to be able to communicate your emotions accurately. Screaming at people, or throwing things around you incoherently, or even getting violent, won’t get you very far. Remaining even somewhat calm is difficult when you’re seething inside. So, when anger or frustration is mounting inside you, try to take a few deep breaths first. Maybe it will help you to take a short break from the situation, to gain a bit of distance. For example, go outside for some fresh air, or push yourself during a brief workout. Let off some steam and get angry. Tell the people you’re talking to why you’re doing this. Say clearly why you are angry. Don’t suppress your emotions – accept them and talk about them. It’s entirely OK for other people to know that you’re angry right now. Your body language will help to emphasise your clear words. When you’re not angry yourself, but another person is angry with you, don’t allow the emotion to infect you. Be aware of the emotion and, most importantly, take it seriously. Find out what the problem is. What has triggered the anger?

Find your own way of handling emotions. What helps you? Exercise? Nature? Talk about it, whether it’s joy or anger. Get angry. Share your feelings and use your emotions to become clear about what’s happening inside you, and what you would like, or would not like. The people around you should sense what you feel, and learn why you feel that way – even when you feel angry or frustrated.

 

 

 

 

References
Brandstätter, V., Schüler, J., Puca, R. M., & Lozo, L. (2018). Motivation und Emotion. Allgemeine Psychologie für Bachelor (2nd ed.). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-56685-5
Einstein. (2019, 7 August). Wut – eine Emotion bestimmt unsere Gesellschaft. Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen. https://www.srf.ch/play/tv/einstein/video/wut---eine-emotion-bestimmt-unsere-gesellschaft?urn=urn:srf:video:35f2eb0c-1096-4615-8363-12cb59e4830d
Flynn, J. J., Hollenstein, T., & Mackey, A. (2010). The effect of suppressing and not accepting emotions on depressive symptoms: Is suppression different for men and women? Personality and Individual Differences, 49(6), 582-586. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2010.05.022
Gross, J. J. (2002). Emotion regulation: Affective, cognitive, and social consequences. Psychophysiology, 39(3), 281-291. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0048577201393198
Kienle, D., & Witte, S. (2016). Heilsamer Zorn: Über die Wut und ihre positiven Wirkungen. GEO. https://www.geo.de/magazine/geo-kompakt/15270-rtkl-psychologie-heilsamer-zorn-ueber-die-wut-und-ihre-positiven
Nezlek, J. B., & Kuppens, P. (2008). Regulating positive and negative emotions in daily life. Journal of personality, 76(3), 561-580. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2008.00496.x
Webb, T. L., Miles, E., & Sheeran, P. (2012). Dealing with feeling: a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of strategies derived from the process model of emotion regulation. Psychological bulletin, 138(4), 775-808. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027600

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