When does anger become unhealthy?

by rodney on July 1, 2013

AngerAnger is something that we all experience in our lives. We have either been angry ourselves or we have been around someone who is angry and it is not a pleasant experience. Anger has well known negative consequences on people’s lives.

What we tend to forget is that anger while not only normal, it can be healthy and bring about some positive changes in not just your life but in the world around you.

It was anger that sparked the civil rights movement in the 60’s which brought about lasting changes for millions of people in America. It is anger that has started many charities which help the poor, disadvantaged and needy and it is anger that will bring about equal marriage rights to millions of same sex couples throughout the world. When used in a positive and constructive method, anger can be incredibly healthy.

So when does anger become unhealthy and more importantly how can what can we do to stop anger being an unhealthy force in our lives? Ask yourself these questions.

Am I becoming violent?

Violence is an unhealthy reaction to anger. It is destructive, causes pain for not just others but yourself as well and it has negative consequences such as legal issues. Worst of all, it does nothing to solve the issue that has caused you anger in the first place. You can vent this anger and energy off in healthy ways such as exercise, go for a walk or a run or even take your anger out on a punching bag instead of other people. Screaming can also help vent pain and anger. A method used in the 70’s was called Primal scream therapy to great success. Find yourself in an isolated place where you are unlikely to be heard and scream until the urge to be violent is gone.

Am I focused on revenge?

My two favourite quotes regarding revenge are: Revenge digs two graves and an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Many people confuse revenge with justice but they are both different concepts. Revenge is about making someone who has wronged you pay by making them hurt just as much, if not more than they hurt you. Justice is about making the wrong right. The two are opposite sides of the same coin. Revenge is the unhealthy side, justice is the healthy side. If you are angry because of someone else’s wrong doings, focus on justice instead of revenge.

Does my anger cloud my thinking?

When we get angry, we experience what is known as the fight or flight syndrome. Our bodies get us ready for some type of action. What happens in the brain is that the blood goes quickly to the parts of the brain which aid that action. This leaves our neo cortex, the part of the brain that controls thinking, without blood and oxygen. This is why when we become angry we can lose our ability to think rationally. This is why we hear people talk about going into a “blind rage” and saying that they “snapped” and couldn’t think. Even though this can be normal, it is unhealthy as we lose our ability to make rational judgements, which then cause us to behave in unhelpful ways. If you lose your ability to think when you’re angry, first is be aware of what is happening and then take in a number of deep breaths. This will help you to calm down and think clearer by increasing the oxygen in your body and awakening your neo cortex.

Anger can be healthy if it is used in a constructive and positive way, however when you are dealing with the pain that often comes with anger, this can be easier said than done. If you do need help with managing your anger you could seek help via many anger management courses on offer or through professional counselling.


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