Anger, as an emotion, does not have the best of reputation. Even though it is a universal and primal emotion, an integral experience of being human, we curb, contain, and hide it. Understandably so. We do not want to be labelled angry. People do often attribute conflict, disharmony, and aggression to anger.
Having said that, there might be more to anger than meets the eye. It can act as a catalyst for growth, shed light on our values and beliefs, and act as an important indicator when we are being wronged or mistreated. Happiest Health explores five things you should know about anger.
1. Anger helps us survive
A 2017 research study published by researcher Riccardo Williams, in Frontiers Psychology journal, showed that it has served a significant evolutionary purpose in safeguarding our survival.
The fundamental “fight” reaction is rooted in anger, urging us to stay vigilant in identifying potential threats and enhancing our concentration. Whenever our safety is compromised or we face an assault, anger is instinctively triggered, compelling us to defend ourselves. Essentially, it acts as an alarm system, signalling when a threat is present and furnishing the necessary aggression to confront the threat.
2. It gives us a sense of control
According to the same research by Riccardo Williams, anger also helps us in gaining a sense of control over our lives and helps in asserting our autonomy. It showed that this emotion can be enlisted to achieve various goals like personal control, conflict resolution, and defence of personal integrity. So, this is a means of asserting oneself and maintaining a sense of control over our values and decisions.
3. Anger might be masking other emotions
Jodhpur-based counselling psychologist Vandana Saini, says that anger can be a cover for more vulnerable feelings. “Sometimes what looks like anger might actually be sadness, irritation, fear or frustration,” she says. Understanding what is beneath our anger is crucial for effective emotional regulation. Uncovering the underlying emotion, she says, helps to deal with the exact concern or issue.
4. It can help you get to know yourself
Saini adds that anger can also arise if something happens that does not align with our principles. “This can help us in realising what our morals and principles are. This helps us in knowing ourselves better,” says Saini.
This means that it can indicate to us when our boundaries are being violated. It gives us a clearer picture of our own values and thinking patterns. It is a very good indicator for when our needs are not met.
Releasing anger with a workout
While anger affects one’s health, finding a healthy way to express this emotion can be useful to our health. Exercise may help in not only managing it but also help us stay emotionally and physically fit.
A 2019 study published in the Asian Nursing Research journal found that those who exercise regularly exhibit lower levels of anger. Clearly, the catharsis that exercise provides can be a useful tool in regulating this emotion.
Therefore, when we feel angry, it is worth asking ourselves what our anger trying to tell us. Instead of dismissing this feeling, it can be a valuable way to get to know ourselves better. And finding a healthy outlet for our anger can help us lead a healthier and more fulfilling life.