3 Reasons You Should Befriend Your Anger
Stop suppressing your anger. Why? Well, because it’s a natural and powerful emotion that arises for a good reason. In fact, it’s an important part of your embodied intelligence. Besides, the real problem with anger is how you think about it, manage it (or not), and express it. Instead of fighting with it, consider three reasons why you should befriend your anger.
In reality, just knowing more about anger, why it arises, and how to relate to it, will help you stop struggling. Furthermore, you’ll be able to relax your inner judge, self-reflect, and access the benefits of anger.
Is Anger Bad or Good?
Many people think that anger is bad, a negative emotion, and something that’s best suppressed. This is particularly true of women. While most cultures tolerate, or at least understand male anger, they denounce and shame women who express theirs. In this type of cultural context, it’s often extremely difficult for women to express or even befriend their anger.
Emotions Are A Part of Your Natural Embodied Intelligence
In actuality, all emotions are nonvalenced: neither positive nor negative, good nor bad. This is because they are natural, innate, objective, and mostly subconscious signals of change within the body and the external environment. They actually help you effectively respond and regain your equilibrium. (See A. Damasio, G Claxton, A Fogel, and Karla Mclaren as excellent sources.)
In coordination with other bodily substances and systems, emotions stimulate hormones, neurotransmitters, and other bodily processes to orient the body and mind on how best to respond to threshold levels of change. In other words, they’re an essential part of basic body functioning and your body-mind.
For more on embodied intelligence see my blogs entitled: Your Embodied Brain and Three Ways to Get to Know It and How Your Embodied Mind Shapes Your Life.
Anger As Natural Embodied Intelligence
Each emotion has a unique role in orienting you to a specific type of change and the need to respond. For example, anger’s primary role deals with boundaries and the underlying beliefs and preferences that define them. While sadness supports the process of releasing, letting go, and creating space for something new.
But, let’s look more closely at anger and the boundaries it protects. Boundaries act as a defense against intrusion, force, and harm of any kind on any level: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. These threats can be real or simply perceived.
By way of illustration, see if you can recall situations when you expressed your anger in different ways: apathy, frustration, offense, seething, aggression, or hostility.
Perhaps a good friend overstayed her welcome. In response, you chose to loosen your boundary, maintain your patience, and attend to her with continued hospitality.
Now contrast this with a situation such as a noisy neighbor who yet again played his music loudly late into the night. Here, you held fast to your boundary. In fact, you may have snapped at him, shouted, or even threatened to call the police. Alternatively, your response might have been to shed tears if you’re a woman who has trouble accessing and expressing the energy or force of anger.
The point is anger, like all of your emotions, is actually trying to get your attention and point you toward the right path for your highest and best interest. When you don’t listen, it pushes harder. And, to contend with boundary intrusions of increasing severity and/or persistence, you, just like other people, have a tendency to ratchet up the force of the anger response. Hence, it will progress from a soft expression like boredom to a hot or volatile outburst such as rage.
The key is to notice your unique personal signs. Then pause and reflect. Only then can you choose the right response for your best interest and/or outcome.
These Three Beneficial Attributes Are Why You Want to Befriend Your Anger
1. Befriend Your Anger to Discover and Maintain What’s Important to You
Anger can help you maintain, and even discover boundaries you didn’t even know you had. They may relate to your personal, social, professional, or spiritual life and vary between these contexts, e.g., be lax for close friends and firm for strangers.
If you regularly pay close attention to your interactions with others, you’ll become familiar with those circumstances when you appropriately ease your boundaries as well as when you tend to abandon them against your best interest.
Furthermore, you might find that you get triggered or cling to habitual responses based on past experiences, but you’ve actually outgrown the need for them. If you listen with compassionate curiosity to how you express anger (e.g., boredom, detachment, impatience, irritation) you’ll be able to notice those obsolete and ill-suited reactions and consciously choose to let them go for the sake of more authentic and effective options.
2. Discover and Release Exiled Emotions or Parts of Your True and Authentic Self
Oftentimes, one emotion will step in and overshadow another in a form of protection. This is called masking.
The way to expose the underside of an anger mask is to again listen to your anger with compassionate curiosity, regardless of whether it’s expressing itself in a subtle and soft or a loud and sharp manner. By doing so, you can free that exiled emotion or part of yourself and gain access to more of yourself. That is, when you free these parts from their baggage and bring them online, they’ll contribute to your greater personal authenticity and effectiveness.
Typically, when anger or any other masking emotion is released from its protective or defensive role, your presence, self-resources, clarity, purposefulness, and effectiveness grow.
3. Access and Control the Power Within Your Anger
Taking a broader view, anger is a critical part of the body’s overall defense system. It pops up with the detection of potential threats. Even more central to threat surveillance, is the body’s autonomic nervous system (ANS) and its sympathetic response, more commonly known as the fight/flight response. Anger derives its power and force from the ANS.
I was once told that my anger is my warrior and protector. Not only was I stunned by the remark, but my perspective shifted drastically. I now respect, appreciate, and work compassionately with the natural and informative range of its expressions. You can do this too?
You may be thinking it’s better to bottle up that energy. Restrained anger is essentially resentment. In fact, anger and resentment are, respectively, the outward and inward expressions of the same force. But be forewarned. While resentment is seemly gentle, over time chronic resentment will rake havoc on your health and well-being.
In sum, anger is an important part of your embodied intelligence and a strong and capable ally. If it is attended to and understood, it can reveal a great deal about your history and current outlook. Most importantly, anger helps you maintain your integrity and unique identity as well as show up confidently and competently.
For More On Anger, Your Emotions, and Your Embodied Mind, See:
- Make Peace With Your Emotions: Stop Doing These 3 Things
- How Your Embodied Mind Shapes Your Life
- Your Embodied Brain and Three Ways to Get to Know It
Patricia Bonnard, PhD, ACC is a ICF leadership coach, certified Martha Beck Wayfinder life, certified energy healer, and embodied practitioner. Her articles appear on Medium, Pathway Living, Your Tango, Linkedin, and several blog sites. See more and contact her at Starchaser Integrated Coaching and Energy Healing.