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The emotion of anger is a guardian at the gate of ourselves and what we hold dear.
If someone or something threatens our treasures – such as loved ones, opinions, property, self-respect, a favorite pair of shoes, or our health – the emotion of anger lets us know our protective boundaries are being breached. This is good information to have and is highly personal.
Emotional information is personal because it is colored by our individual beliefs and perceptions, or how we see things. One person receiving a diagnosis of diabetes may feel angry with God, while another may feel rage toward their body. Yet both are angry because something of value has been threatened and they want it restored.
Restoring things the way we want them is where we expect too much of anger. Anger tells us something of value is at stake, and it energizes us for action, but it cannot make our lives the way we want them. For instance, no amount of anger can take away a diagnosis of diabetes.
Using Anger Wisely
Emotions are only useful when we feel them. A healthy response to an emotion is acknowledging it without judging it good or bad, right or wrong. After all, feeling anger when our health is compromised is normal. Our well-being is threatened, and anger rises up to warn us and energize us for action.
What anger cannot do is tell us what our actions should be. For that, we need to engage experience, knowledge, and wisdom. By bringing our thinking and intuitive minds (and those of others) into the mix, we can decide how to use the information and energy of our emotions. Without the addition of wisdom, emotions can easily stir up chaos.
Anger, for example, is not a good leader, but it is an excellent motivating force. If the energy of anger can be channeled into purposeful, effective action, such as disciplined glucose monitoring to restore or maintain well-being, it can be of service to our health.
Anger becomes toxic when we resentfully stuff it and stew in its juices, or use anger as a weapon to blame others or ourselves for our plight. We may naturally have thoughts of blaming God for allowing diabetes or be miffed with ourselves for eating too much cheesecake, but continuous resentment and attack resolve and heal nothing – and that is a fact.
If you are angry talk about it, write about it, punch the air, draw or color it until you can choose a way to put the energy to use.
Persistent or Hidden Anger
Our beliefs about anger and our habitual responses to it are formed during childhood. By adulthood, these beliefs and responses are ingrained in us. It takes conscious effort and courage to become aware of them and learn to manage anger differently.
If you are chronically angry, or are afraid to show anger, you may need professional help to change this, since emotional understanding is not achieved in a vacuum. We first learned about emotions in relationship with our caregivers, and we need relationships to expand our awareness and expression of emotion. A therapist can provide that relationship in a supportive, safe environment.
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