Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Is showing anger healthy? Know the Why's and How's!

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Anger is a normal emotional phenomenon but despite its normality, there is always a cloud of confusion surrounding it. We don't see being angry as a good sign and the angry person is often faced with righteous scorn and often fear by others.

But did you know, showing and not suppressing your anger can be healthy?
By bottling up our anger, we are at risk of heart attacks, depression bouts, self destructive habits. feelings of worthlessness, negativity and a general bleak outlook to life with low self confidence. Such people often become loners, live in a shell of their own misery and are at a greater risk of facing complete emotional breakdown leading to extreme situations like suicides.

We have forgotten the benefits of anger but famous people like Aristotle knew the benefits of this often looked-down-upon emotion. Aristotle, the great ancient Greek philosopher, thought anger could be good for a person. In the "Nicomachean Ethics," he wrote: "The man who is angry at the right things and with the right people, and further, as he ought, when he ought, and as long as he ought, is praised."

Being angry is beneficial in the following ways:

1) It can act as a motivating force.
Sometimes anger instills in us the much needed motivation to do better. Research has shown that people who embrace their anger when they fail to get something they want, are more likely to strive harder the next time in comparison to people who suppress their anger and feel sorry.
For example: I worked really hard in office but still the promotion went to someone else and the reason my Manager gives me shows that my efforts just lacked a little. While this makes me angry at myself, it also motivates me to reach that promotion the next time. Instead of feeling sorry and worthless which suppressing my anger will make me feel (try it out sometime to see how true this is), I use my anger to wash away any such feelings and pledge to do something about that promotion I want!

2) It can better our relationships.
Showing our anger to our loved ones when we dont like something they have done can better our relationships. As weird as it sounds, it's true.
When someone close to us like our brother does something to make us angry and we tell him that this habit or gesture isn't liked by us, he is less likely to repeat it. However, if we suppress our anger and don't show that we resent his actions in that instant, he wont know that something is wrong and thus, will most likely repeat that same actions again and again, filling us with more frustration and anger which in the long haul will definitely sour our relationship.

Also when we feel angry, we are more likely to bear the anger of others and in turn, we become more self-possessed and confident of handling emotions, maturely.

3) Anger shows us that something is wrong.
When we get angry, this is a signal that something is not right either on a personal level, a societal level or interpersonal level. It causes us to investigate the cause and often drives us to solve the situation. When we investigate the cause, often times we understand ourselves better and are more streamlined never to repeat those same circumstances again.

4) Anger makes us positive and relieves stress.
We already know that anger motivates us to strive harder to achieve our goals but did you know it also makes us more positive and relieves stress?


When we are motivated to perform better, we automatically see the future as being more positive and we are more confident of reaching our goals.
Similarly, once we have exhausted our anger we feel relaxed, more calm and stress free and most definitely, lighter. Take another scenario where we bottle up our anger. We don't feel lighter, we definitely feel stress and are often more likely to feel negativity towards everything and everyone.

5) Anger shown at the right time and to the right people can solve problems.
Carefully expressed anger in the right situations can prove beneficial and also solve problems.
For example: A well aimed frown and rebuke works wonders when no amount of love filled coddling works to improve our children.

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While all the above pointers are true, handling and expressing anger the right way is important to achieve all the benefits of this basic human emotion because there is a very thin line between anger which is healthy and mismanaged anger which is destructive.

To reap the maximum benefits from being angry, follow these simple steps every time you feel you are out of control with anger.

1) Stop to take deep breaths and count from 10 to 1. Look for signs that show that you are getting angry like sweating in your palms, 
hotness and twitching in your face, clenching fists, desire to run away or even shout at someone and short breaths.

2) Think about the consequences of your actions if you go through with the violent and negative thoughts running through your mind as you feel more and more anger. This will help in assuaging your anger and turning it towards more constructive channels.

3) Question yourself why you are angry? What is it that is causes you anger? Is something wrong or is it just frustration that you are confusing as anger? We often take out our anger on people close to us and often misdirect our anger causing more problems that solutions. Shouting and raving on innocent people only causes more disharmony and never brings us the satisfaction that we want.
Instead of taking out our anger on any and everyone, we should focus on identifying the cause, the person responsible and the need that wants fulfillment when we are angry. Once the anger is assessed correctly, if the solution requires another person's involvement, we should talk to him/her but only after we have calmed down and when we both have the time to hear each other out. Resolving anger like this will not only solve problems but also bring more satisfaction without destroying our relationships.

4) Reduce and control your anger through more constructive activities like taking deep breaths, going on a walk, swimming, listening to relaxing music, taking a nap etc. It is okay to take time to calm down. Only when we are calm can we resolve our issues properly. Whenever it's time to talk to someone responsible for making us angry, use "I" instead of "You" in your statements like "I feel angry when you do this." instead of "You make me angry when you do this."
Using "I" calms the other person and motivates him to listen to our issues instead of lighting up again feeling as if we are accusing him.

5) Reward yourself when you feel that you have handled your anger constructively. The reward can be anything from taking a holiday to eating out at your favourite restaurant. A little motivation goes a long way in helping us harness our anger to get the best results from this powerful albeit often misunderstood emotion.

The Dalai Lama said he deals with his anger by meditating for hours — sometimes days.

He has extensive teachings about how to not let anger grow.
"When a situation does arise that makes you angry, you should directly confront your anger and analyze it. Investigate what factors have given rise to that particular instance of anger or hatred," he writes in The Art of Happiness.

Do you use these above techniques to harness your anger? What are your go-to techniques when you are angry? Do you feel that your anger has proven to be beneficial? Share your views with me in the comments.

-Njkinny
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