Anger 101

Anger is a universal emotion; when we see an angry face, we are able to instantly recognize the emotion. It is also our safest emotion; we know not to ‘poke an angry bear.’

Anger is a useful emotion in that it produces an action; it also provides relief. Anger however, is only productive when it is in our control; as soon as it moves to aggression (raised voice, yelling, hitting, name calling, etc.) it is no longer in our control and then works against us. When that “angry bear” shows up, it is either going to keep others from engaging with us or increase the conflict (anger will automatically make you feel defensive; it’s a survival strategy.)

We are in a much better place when we can recognize our anger and then work to keep our cool. Anger is always precipitated by another emotion. Sometimes this is sheer frustration, but other times we skip over our vulnerable feelings such as sadness, guilt, fear and go right to anger to keep us safe from those tougher emotions. When we feel anger rising, we need to take a deep breath and ask ourselves “What am I feeling first?” Just focusing on this initial feeling can often help keep the anger away from a place that begins to feel out of control.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Thomas Lefebvre on Unsplash

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