Anger – Positive USES

if I’m just ‘nice’ enough

PREVIOUS: Anger Types, #2

SITEs: “The uses of Anger” + Richard Prior story
• “Making Anger Your Ally

BOOK: “Surprising Purpose of Anger ~ M.B. Rosenberg, PhD

BASIC purpose of anger: To manage internal & external stimuli (PPT) which produce emotions of fear, hurt or frustration in us

Fear is for keeping us safe, Love is for bonding & Anger is for righting wrongs – so the emotion of anger is never the problem, only how we act

CONSTRUCTIVE use of anger usually involves both sides of a dispute, not just the angry person. In best-case scenarios, the angry person expresses their grievance, the target person listens, & then responds appropriately. If the anger is justified & the response suitable, the misunderstanding is usually corrected. The Q. then is not “Should I express anger or should I suppress it?, but rather “What can we do to solve the problem?” (MORE…..)

• In our culture, on the one hand, anger is respected as a sign personal strength & self-confidence. On the other hand, most people are afraid of someone being angry because it’s associated with aggression & violence. However, this is not automatic or inevitable. Anger can actually help reduce violence in many social settings, because intimidated people become more obliging than usual, who will placate the angry one, thus minimizing their upset & preventing escalation.

— Authors Howard Kassinove PhD & Chip Tafrate, PhD, tells us that “In fact, anger seems to be followed by aggression only about 10% of the time, & lots of aggression occurs without any anger”. And – James Averill, PhD, from U. of Mass. says that “When you look at everyday episodes of anger, as opposed to more dramatic ones, the results are usually positive”.  (MORE…..)

NEURO-PLASTICITY can correct negative Beliefs & painful Emotions: Our brain is like putty – neuro[plasticityit can be trained & repeatedly reshaped. Since stressful emotions & uplifting emotions occupy the same ‘real estate’ in our brain (the amygdala), we can use our anger to tell us what experience or disappointment or bad news triggers our inner Green Hulk.

For example, getting stuck in heavy traffic often generates frustration & rage, but it’s not the delay that creates those emotions – they come from what we’re saying to ourselves: “Get out of my way you jerks, I’m going to be late, everyone’s always causing me problems, this is going to screw up my appointment, why does this always happen to me?….”, even tho these thoughts are probably outside our awareness. Feeling angry every time we’re in heavy traffic strengthens a specific neural pathway, cementing the emotion. (ALSO: Humor & negativity)

• When there’s nothing we can actually do in that moment but accept the delay, it would help instead to notice & then change what we’re saying to ourselves, which can change how we feel. If we redirect our attention to something we like very time we’re on the road (remembering a beloved pet, a recent success, talking to the Inner Child….), it will eventually form a more pleasant emotional response. We can start linking traffic with stillness or comfort. We can listen to interesting tapes, sing along to our favorite music, think thru a knotty problem or create/ design something we can make later.

• Because the Amygdala also holds memories associated with various emotional responses, it will remember the positive changes we makestuck in traffic
when we combine a diligent observation our own personality traits + what sets us off + a willingness to change our automatic responses. It takes patience & repetition to form a new pathway, but by not using the old one (neural inhibition) the brain will be rewired. As we keep practicing, being more peaceful gets easier & more natural. The ability for self-evaluation & change provide self-mastery, which gives a feeling of empowerment, key factors in feeling happy.

PERSONAL – Healthy Anger-Expression CAN:
• help defend & preserve our identity, encouraging self-esteem
• provide a break from feeling afraid, vulnerable or hurt
• give a sense of personal empowerment & positive control in situations where we once felt powerless & defeated
• definitely tell us when our needs aren’t being met
• be used to vent tension & frustration, burning off an accumulated backlog of Es (when in overwhelm)
• provide the energy & motivation to take some action (perhaps something that’s been put off)
• stop abuse as it’s happening, & stop future potential abuses (verbal attacks, domestic abuse, bullied at work….)internal changes
• encourage us to work on changing whatever caused the anger in the first place – if at all possible. When it’s not, it can give us the courage to leave a hopeless &/or dangerous situation
• provide an opening to express our values (righteous anger), to challenge & change difficult interpersonal injustices
• it’s a stage of mourning, on the way to accepting an inevitable loss
• it’s a characteristic of optimism, because there’s still a sense of possibilities & the ability to fight if necessary (depression=hopelessness)

SOCIAL – Healthy Anger-Expression CAN:
• send a strong message to an offender they’ve done something wrong
• give us the courage to ask that someone treat us better from now on
• let others know our true position about something, with the appropriate intensity of emotion suited to the situation
• motivate us to constructively work on healing an emotional injury – without attack, blame, causing guilt, humiliation or shame
• set needed boundaries, to stop others from encroaching on our rights & propertysocial activism

• get someone’s attention (to be heard), especially if the person is talking over, interrupting or ignoring us
help us stay connected to our social group, rather than withdrawing
• build or improve relationships by forming appreciation, connection, respect, sense of understanding & trust
• set a president for better communication in the future, & the groundwork for acceptance, letting go & moving on
• energize our fight for legitimate rights, overcome oppression or topple a tyrant (slavery & apartheid, women’s suffrage, civil rights…). Handled correctly, our anger can motivate others to help us with our cause

NEXT: Anger – Negative uses


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