We all get angry. It's a natural human emotion.
There are so many external factors that can trigger one's anger. But did you know that there is HEALTHY anger and there also is TOXIC ANGER?
Understanding the difference between the two is essential for our mental health and well-being. But before we dive in, let's discuss why anger isn't always a NEGATIVE emotion. Anger has a negative reputation. People compare it to happiness or enthusiasm and label it as a BAD or NEGATIVE emotion. Here are a few reasons why this isn't true.
WHY ANGER IS NOT ALWAYS "NEGATIVE"
Anger energizes us. Anger guards us when someone wants to hurt us.
Anger motivates us to solve problems. Anger propels us to take action when things aren't going well.
Anger makes us aware of injustice. There is a lot of injustice in the world. Anger serves as our internal guidance when we (or others) are being treated unfairly.
Anger can lead to self-improvement. Looking at what triggers anger makes us more self-aware.
Anger increases cooperation. Anger shows others that there is something you are not agreeing with and that something needs to change. This makes people listen.
THREE WAYS PEOPLE EXPRESS ANGER
There are three ways that people tend to express anger - expressing, suppressing, and calming.
The manner of expression makes all the difference - expressing toxic anger in the exact way that we want to isn’t the most productive way forward.
In fact, “research has found that "letting it rip" with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you're angry with) resolve the situation” (2).
Suppressing, on the other hand, turns the anger inwards or diverts its method of expression (ex. passive aggression, cynicism, etc.). This can lead to a plethora of health issues, including heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression. The third method, calming, is when you proceed with controlling both outward expressions (words and actions) and internal reactions to anger (heart rate, quick breathing).
Of these, “expressing your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express anger.”
A healthy expression of anger includes “making clear what your needs are, and how to get them met” (2) while being respectful of others. Here are some other ways that we can differentiate between healthy and unhealthy anger:
Healthy anger is...
Problem-focused, not people-focused.
Still aware of how that anger might affect others.
Productive. It can even aid your focus and help you to work towards a goal.
Unhealthy anger is...
Irrational and definitive.
It is more based on emotion than on fact.
Can make us feel impulsive and out of control of our actions.
Not conducive to conversation and does not make space to problem solve.
This form of anger it’s not productive and doesn’t address the anger itself. It alienates the other party and leaves no room for open communication and problem-solving.
If you need help understanding your emotions as well as learning the healthier ways to express your emotions, feel free to reach out. Our mental health coaches are here to help.
https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/recognize https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/strategies-controlling https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-forward/201706/do-you-have-toxic-anger-issues-and-not-know-it https://openmindmatters.com/psychology/toxic-anger-part-1/