Anger is a healthy, positive emotion that is a message to let us know that our boundaries have been transgressed, or that something has happened that we are just not OK with. When this is an experience that we have occasionally, that passes once it’s done it’s job, all is well. Everyone gets angry sometimes, if you’re not able to feel angry there’s actually some exploring to do to work out why!
It is an unfortunate truth, however, that many people are afflicted with habitually being angry. They may feel injustice after injustice, or many set-backs they take personally, or perceive that many people in life are out to get them, and as a result find themselves stuck on high alert and ready to react when something does not go as planned. Anger may then be a frequent companion, with consequences for relationships and life satisfaction.
Anger directed at other people in a hostile or threatening way is never acceptable, nor is out of control rage. Safety has to be a priority, and anyone who is subject to someone treating them inappropriately is well advised to get help and support.
That said, it’s easy when someone is ‘hot-headed’ to focus on the anger and make judgements. And yet, the anger is only part of the story. I’ve yet to meet anyone who is actually happy being volatile or regularly angry. It’s a painful experience, and often one that feels beyond conscious control.
So what is going on? In a word, vulnerability. When anger is regularly at the fore, there is a vulnerable soft spot that is being protected. There is an insecurity, a fear, an anxiety, a hurt…it can take many forms, but there is something that is being protected. Repeated anger is a form of brittleness, a defence, a way of keeping the soft spot ‘safe.’ The trouble is, the very behaviours designed for safety are actually increasing disconnection, harm, and even relational danger.
If you’re experiencing anger as a theme in your life, digging deeper and coming to know what it is that is fuelling it from the inside is a very useful endeavour. Circumstances and others can not be continually blamed if you want to break the pattern and address anger, it takes introspection and self-development to change this painful internal dynamic.
I frequently work with anger in clinical practice, particularly when working with couples. Bearing witness to the gradual opening up and healing that occurs as soft spots are brought into awareness, shared and honoured can be magical, it changes lives and relationships. Anger calls attention to what needs healing. If this resonates with you, will you be brave enough to hear that call, stop and listen?