We all know one thing, getting angry is not the most pleasant feeling. It makes our hearts race, our palms sweat, and causes us to feel jittery, anxious and scared. Modern society, by and large, is driven by the ‘pleasure principal’, i.e. an instinct to seek positive feelings and experiences and to avoid discomfort or pain. If there is any feeling that we don’t like, we try to get rid of it. Therefore, more often then not, we all end up burying our anger and wishing for it to go away.
While this might feel like the right thing to do, not facing your anger can cause us a lot of emotional discomfort like stress and anxiety, lead to health issues, and end up erupting in an intense, uncontrollable rage. When you're afraid of anger or are afraid of people becoming angry with you, you also commit to inaction — you stay away from people and experiences that might stir up unwanted emotions, and thus end up missing out on opportunities, experiences or even potential relationships. According to Soraya Chemaly, author of the book, Rage Becomes Her, "Contrary to rhetoric and popular self-help. And an entire lifetime of being told otherwise, our rage is one of the most important resources we have, our sharpest tool against both personal, and political oppression"
So, can anger actually be good for you?
None of us enjoy being angry, and we certainly don't want to be around angry people. Yet, anger can also be good because it is designed to protect us, and our relationships. The fact of the matter is, anger is meant to make us uncomfortable. That's how it gets us to pay attention to it. Each of our emotions, including anger, plays an important role in our lives, by providing us with information. To fully experience and tap into the wisdom of our emotions, we must learn how to experience discomfort. Without discomfort, there is no change and no growth. So, why experience the discomfort of anger? Here are four reasons why feeling angry could actually be good for you.
1. Anger helps you to get your needs met
Don’t know what your needs actually are? Listen to your anger. For example, if you're headed home after a long, hard day at work and your partner—who's had a relaxing day—asks you to pick up groceries and make dinner, that jab of anger that you feel? It’s a sign that you feel stretched thin and you need your partner to help out more.
2. Anger helps you discover your boundaries
Does your stomach twist into a knot every time you see some friends or family,because you know they're going to ask you when you're going to get a better job, settle down with a nice spouse, have a kid? If meeting a certain people makes you feel anxious, it’s a good indication that you need to set some boundaries with them. Maybe it’s time to politely but firmly tell them not to ask you about your personal life and career choices, now or ever again.
3. Anger helps us get things accomplished
Are you upset because your boss doesn't appreciate all of your hard work? Use that anger to propel you toward a job that's more rewarding. Does it make you mad that there's income inequality in this country, or the gender wage gap? Let that anger motivate you to become involved in activism or local government. Anger, when used to fuel positive action, can actually be a good thing.
4. Anger strengthens relationships
According to marriage and relationship therapists, one of the worst things they ever hear patients say is, "I never fight with my partner." This is terrible because anger actually strengthens relationships. It's in your conflicts and disagreements that you truly learn about your partner, including their needs and boundaries. Equality in a relationship means working through things together, compromising, and seeing things from the other person's perspective.
So, is anger and emotional discomfort good for you? The answer is a strong yes! . Until you learn to mindfully sit with your anger and listen to it, it will continue to make you feel uncomfortable—and you won't benefit from it. The next time you find yourself getting angry, pay attention to what action you need to take based on that emotion, and use it to propel your life in a positive direction. That way, you can create some value out of the discomfort you feel and use it to improve the quality of your life. Don't know about you, but we are certainly planning to binge watch Anger Management this weekend.