, Gloucester, MA


November 15, 2012

Personal Matters: Dealing with our feelings of anger

“What should I do with all this anger I feel?”

Whether they are angry with themselves, their spouse, the boss, their children, in-laws or neighbors, many of my coaching clients often feel overwhelmed by their anger. It is interesting that, in contrast, I seldom hear anyone say they do not know what to do with all the joy or love they feel.

In a culture like ours — where anger is usually considered a “bad” or negative emotion — it is easy to think that being angry is not only unpleasant and unattractive but also unacceptable.

The truth is that anger is a basic, primal emotion that is part of our human emotional constitution. Just like our other emotions, it is available for your well-being, protection and appropriate expression. It is appropriate to be angry if someone threatens your or a loved one’s well being. It is appropriate to be angry at injustice whether personal or societal. Anger is a friend when it stimulates us to take action to protect others and ourselves.

Since anger is not an emotion that is easily accepted in social situations, you may, in the process of avoiding the expression of it, learn to numb yourself and therefore not even feel it. You may, and this is common, allow your natural, angry responses to build up inside of you until you finally explode. Some small incident may become a huge issue because your stored up anger is simply too big and inappropriate to the incident.

Suppressed, hidden anger may affect your physical health producing symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, high blood pressure. Unexpressed anger may also lower your concentration levels or you may experience a general sense of edginess or dissatisfaction with your life.

For some, built up anger may result in eating binges or over consumption of alcohol. In these instances your unexpressed anger has become a foe that is working against your best interests.

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