"I feel like a volcano always about to explode"

Healthy Anger. Unhealthy Anger. Telling the difference.

Date posted: 11 August 2016

Anger especially in our society is often considered as a negative and destructive emotion that needs to be suppressed. Yet anger is actually a positive response when used constructively. It can be a powerful motivating force to push us towards achieving our goals in the face of problems and barriers. It is a way to communicate our personal boundaries if someone has done something wrong, and when expressed can be a good first step to try and solve a problem. 

Yet there is healthy anger and unhealthy anger. Telling the difference is important because you’ll be better able to understand whether your anger is a good anger and be confident when expressing it, or whether you might want to seek ways of understanding and managing an anger that is unhealthy for you and those around you.

Healthy Anger

Healthy anger is experienced as a vibrant fresh emotion focused on resolving a problem or communicating an injustice. The feeling is often short-lived and dissolves once working towards a resolution. Healthy anger is expressed with little or no vindictiveness. It is not about being vengeful, having power or hurting another (verbally or physically). It is communicated clearly and effectively and you don’t stay preoccupied with it long after the event. Perhaps the clearest indicator that your anger is healthy is if it leaves you feeling OK about yourself and the other person once expressed.

Unhealthy Anger

Unhealthy anger generates thoughts of wanting to hurt another, make them feel what you feel, or worse. The feelings of rage can be so strong that you can feel in danger of losing control, and this anger can be frightening because you risk losing so much more than just your temper. You can certainly be sure that your anger is damaging if it is harming others (emotionally or physically) and also if it is having adverse affects on yourself. Other signs of unhealthy anger is if you find it hard to let go of your rage and after the event are preoccupied with negative thoughts towards self or other.

The root of unhealthy anger usually lies within our emotional baggage from the past. If you suspect that underneath all your rage and resentment there is a deep sense of hurt or sadness, feelings of rejection, being ignored, shamed or humiliated then your anger is likely to stem from unprocessed feelings from the past rather than the present source that has re-triggered it. It can be hard to identify or admit that underneath our anger lies all these other feelings. This denial is hardly surprising, because the intrinsic emotions might be so tightly suppressed and defended against as a way of overcoming the hurt or sadness at the time. It was a way of survival. Yet if unhealthy anger is now the consequence, then this way of being, this way of surviving is no longer working for you, and this is where I believe counselling can help.

How can counselling help?

Counselling can enable you to identify the root of your anger and offer you support as you talk through the experiences and feelings that lie beneath it. Counseling can help you to identify your own triggers and enable you to learn how to express your feelings without hurting either yourself or others – and when you do you’ll feel better about yourself, and find that you are able to get your needs met. In this way you will see an improvement in your relationships and lead a more positive, healthy and satisfying life.

If you would like help with your anger please get in touch on 07718 584554 or email info@humankindcounselling.co.uk.

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